by Paul Thompson
Every so often Sham and I drive to a race in New York City – and it usually ends in raised blood pressure and ‘never again’. Today was like this. In fact getting to the start line proved harder than getting to the finish line. Soon after leaving our place in Peekskill we were faced with a ROAD CLOSED sign at the entrance to the main highway to the city. Thirty minutes, several WTFs, and a 10 mile detour along country lanes later and we were finally heading towards the Bronx.
The irony was the road closure was all because of the Toughman Half race. My warm-up had given over to my blood boiling. The fun did not end there: on arrival at Yankee Stadium the one hour line for parking also meant Sham never got to see the start – I bailed out and jogged to the start. Enroute I popped into a portable toilet only to find a forklift truck trying to move it while I was in residence. At this point I wondered whether I was stuck in a bad dream.
Fortunately things improved. I got to the start and even had a few minutes to do some strides. And to appreciate the great weather and change of scenery from Central Park. I set off on this out and back course at a steady clip of 5:25-30 miling and settled into 3rd behind Warren Street team mate Sebastien B and John Henwood. For 4 miles the course heads up the Grand Concourse, a main artery through the Bronx, gently undulating while steadily gaining altitude. Sebastien and John inched away, 3-5 seconds per mile.
By mile 4 I was isolated, essentially running a time trial with lots of early riser residents giving me bemused looks. The course then does a 2 mile loop around Bedford Park and the Mosholu Parkway before getting back onto the Grand Concourse. The final 4 miles were quite different to the first. Hundreds of slower runners applauded and offered hi fives (which I politely declined as it might have slowed my forward momentum). Both uplifting and humbling, the support fellow runners give you is one of the great things about running in New York.
The final mile descends slightly allowing for a fast finish. I crossed the line in 54:17, first age grade and first M45-49. It was a great day for Warren Street. Sebastien was 2nd overall and 1st M35-39 in 53:33 while Aaron Mendelsohn was 16th overall and 3rd M35-39 in 59:47. Both ran PRs – though it was their debut at the distance. (Full results and more photos here.)
After watching our 4th man, Pascal Lauffer, cross the line in 62:09, good enough for 47th overall and 7th M45-49, all four of us did a warmdown. Sham and I then set off to meet friends of ours, who are relocating to New York from London, at the Vinegar Factory. Coincidentally Sebastien and Pascal were there too. No guesses for what they were tucking into – French toast.