by Paul Thompson
I have to confess the chance of winning the masters category and pocketing a princely prize purse of $150 dollars ($120 net of expenses like race entry fee, post race coffee etc.) was not an insignificant motivation for running this race. As it turns out I was 2nd and after dinner with Sham the same evening there wasn’t much change. So for now I’ll stick to making ends meet with my day job at IFAC.
Aside from the cash incentives, which extended to top 5 teams (we are still waiting to see if Warren Street got 4th or 5th in the final results), the other great attraction of this race is the fact it’s a break from the NYRR cookie cutter affair in Central Park. This one is deep in Harlem and follows a varied urban loop which, apart from some initial climbing, is relatively fast.
This was my second stab at this event, the first being back in 2012. My race report back then tells a story of the politicized countdown before the starting gun and ending up with 16:02. This time I wanted to duck under 16 and, knowing Bobby Asher shared the same aspiration (according to his Facebook post at least), I figured he’d be a good man to target.
So after the first quarter mile I settled onto the tail of a group of 4-5 runners including Bobby. The first three, which included former clubmate Emiliano Garcia, quickly got a sizable gap on us. I got to the one mile mark in 5:15, slightly slower than my goal pace of 5:10 which would give me 16 dead. I was now trading strides with Peter Brady, USATF Masters 800m champion in 2013 and 2014. It was only when checking the results after the race that I realized who he was – and that he’d gotten that $150 cheque for first M40 plus.
While the course is advertised as flat or downhill from one mile the reality is, at least according to my Garmin data, the course keeps rising gently until around 2 miles. I got to 2 miles in 10:26 and was now starting to slip away from Peter and Bobby. The final mile is fast – a steep descent past City College, followed by two sharp left handers and then flat 800m on a great wide roadway gets you home. I chased the 6th placer hard but 16 minutes slipped away from me.
As team mates gathered in the finishing area – Carlo Agostinetto, Aaron Mendelsohn and Michael Watling blew big holes in their PRs with 16:34, 16:43 and 19.54 respectively (boy it would be nice to run a PR).
I quickly got acclimatized to 16 minutes and 6 seconds change and being 2nd masters. After all I did win the M45-49 and was 3rd AG with 90.17%. But on the warm down with Carlo, Aaron and Mike I realized I was the odd man out. The only man without a PR from the race.