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As many runners will appreciate, the first thing I look at when preparing for a visit to a new place is where to run. I always like to also check if there are any races going on in the local area or parkruns nearby. The US doesn’t seem to do parkrun (??) so, with a work trip to New York upcoming, I found myself on the registration page for the Staten Island 5k. This was part of a larger running festival incorporating the Staten Island Half, which in turn was part of an annual NYRR series of races!
The issue I faced (I know, get your violins out) was that my flight got into JFK airport at 8:30, meaning I got to my hotel at 10pm. I’d measured the distance from the hotel to the Staten Island Ferry, which I would have to take in the morning, at 6k. With the race starting at 8:30am and still needing to pick up my number, I figured I’d need to leave the hotel at around 6am. This wasn’t a problem as due to the time difference I was wide awake at 4:30 and ready to go by 5am!
So just after 6am I crept out of my hotel and out on to the dark New York streets (East 27th and Madison if you must know). My route was simple and idiot proof; follow Broadway all the way south through Manhattan until I reach the South Ferry terminal. Running on the streets of New York is quite stop/start though as the grid system means you have to stop every minute for the lights to change. One observation – there are a LOT of homeless people on the streets of New York. All hail the British welfare state as this made for a guilt-laden, melancholic run, dodging around sleeping bags and cardboard boxes along the darkened sidewalk.
After 30 minutes I reached the ferry terminal, got myself a drink and waited for the ferry. Side note: The Staten Island Ferry runs 24/7, every 30 minutes at that time of day and is completely free – definitely worth a trip if you get the chance as the boat ride takes you right past the Statue of Liberty!
The sky was blue and the morning cool, but quickly warming in New York’s Indian summer. The registration and finish was at the Staten Island Yankees baseball ground, with the start line just behind and it was only as I warmed up that I realised that I hadn’t eaten since my flight the previous night… No food available anywhere so downed half a cup of Pepsi then jogged to the start line!
The start had us 5k runners penned in on the road, in front of several thousand half marathon runners who were starting just after us. A cooly dressed young ‘dude’ stepped up to sing a ‘we love America’ song acapella and then we were off.
I started hesitantly, half because a lot of quite obviously slow runners had started at the front in front of me, and half because I was knackered from jetlag, worried that I hadn’t eaten and unsure how tough the course was going to be. After about 400 metres I’d overtaken some of the more optimistic runners and sat in about 15th place. The route sloped downwards tracking around the edge of the island and of course, what goes down… must come up! I upped my pace along this downhill section and passed a few more people, all the time reminding myself to ‘look up!’ and ‘enjoy it!’ but this is hard to do in a flat out 5k! I vaguely saw the Statue of Liberty in the distance and thought ‘that’s nice’, before returning my eyes to the floor.
At the half way point we turned around and followed a parallel route back towards the baseball ground. This involved some uphill climbing although not a significant amount. The course then finished on a couple of hundred metres of downhill before being directed into the baseball ground and finishing! I then ran straight back up the steps of the stadium, up to a hotdog stand and breakfast on the most delicious hotdog I ever did have!
Managed to come 7th/1000 in 18:12. Full Staten Island 5k results
A great race, well organised and brilliant atmosphere!
The view from the return ferry ride, with the sun still only just risen!
Other things ticked off the list in NY last week included:
– Run down to the Hudson and follow the river along to East River Park athletics track
– Walked along the High Line, a disused railway line elevated above the city and transformed into an oasis of green running through Chelsea.
– I sat outside a bar in the sunshine with a beer, reading the NY Times and watching the world go by for 6 hours on Sunday afternoon in Greenwich Village. Amazing.
– Travelled up to the top of Hearst Tower and saw the amazing view over Central Park from the 46th floor!
– Walked through the Upper West Side, across Central Park and meandered back through the Upper East Side to Flatiron
– Shake Shack at Flatiron (Madison Square Park)
– Watch the NY Knicks beat the Philidelphia 76ers at Madison Square Garden
– Visited Ground Zero. Very poignant and sad but a fitting memorial. Still a sense of loss and destruction 14 years on.
– Lovely dinner at a restaurant called County in Flatiron district