To view all of my photos from this race, click here!
This past weekend I had the pleasure of cheering my first New York Road Runners (NYRR) race in Central Park under the Cheer Everywhere moniker – the Fred Lebow Manhattan Half! It is the first of many such races happening this year. NYRR loves Central Park, just like NYCRUNS loves Roosevelt Island. It’s their home turf. So this was a good opportunity to figure out the logistics of getting to Central Park from Brooklyn on an early weekend morning.
The Manhattan Half is part of NYRR’s five borough series – six races that take runners across the five boroughs (duh). Runners who complete at least four of six races in this series get guaranteed entry into the NYC Half, a popular lottery-based race. The Manhattan Half is the least interesting of the five-borough series races in that it takes place entirely in Central Park. Contrast this with the Brooklyn Half – a race that takes runners from Prospect Park all the way down to Coney Island. But hey, it could be worse. I ran the Manhattan Half in 2015 – back when finishers received a Fred Lebow-style cycling cap and no medal! NYRR have since corrected this injustice (though the cycling caps were pretty cool).
I took the Q train from Cortelyou Road to Times Square, and the 1 train to 110th Street. I walked over from there to my cheer spot on Harlem Hill. It was a pretty smooth trip in that there were no major disruptions to my travel. That being said, it’s a long trip! I left my apartment at about 6:20 AM and arrived at Harlem Hill a little before 8. So that’s about an hour and a half of travel for two hours of cheering. Worth it? Totally! Plus, in comparison to the trip to Patchogue for last week’s 10 miler to the Blue Point brewery, it was easy peasy.
Once I arrived at my cheer spot, I had about a 20 minute wait before the first runners came through. I spent some of that time taking in how beautiful Central Park is at 8 AM!
Normally I’ll use the phrase “dead zone” instead of “cheer spot”, because I’ll try to find a section of the course that is lacking in crowd support. On one hand, this is a race in the most famous park in NYC on a Sunday morning – when plenty of runners are out getting their miles in. No zone is really “dead”. On the other hand, it is 8 AM on a weekend, so there aren’t going to be very many spectators out. I figured as long as I had a spot in the northern part of the park, away from the finish line, my cheering could be of some use!
At my cheer spot, the runners were heading south/southeast as they ascended Harlem Hill on the main path. I originally took a spot on the west side of the path so I wouldn’t be boxed in as the traffic picked up. One good thing about showing up early is that you have plenty of time to gauge whether or not your cheer position is optimal. The fastest runners are quite spread out. So if you think you’re in the wrong position, you can switch your spot in between patches of runners (but don’t do this if you tell your friends in advance that you’re going to be on a specific side of the path!)
I quickly decided to switch my primary cheer position to the inside of the path. This put me closer to the runners and out of harm’s way from bicycles. I did move back to the outside for a bit to snap a few photos. Because of the way the path curves, you can see more runners coming in the distance. This makes for some great shots!
While the Manhattan Half is a typical NYRR Central Park race, there was no shortage of awesome runners smiling their way up Harlem Hill! I took a lot of pictures. All of them are available here via Flickr. I’ve included a sample in a gallery at the end of this post.
Want some more cheer in your life?
Next race: NYRR Gridiron 4 Miler.