NYRR’s Top Moments of 2017
From opening a new community running space in January, to rolling out a reimagined youth fitness program in June, to the launch of NYRR Virtual Racing later this month, 2017 has been a big year for the New York Road Runners community—one full of innovation, inspiration, and celebration.
Join us in taking a look back at the top 17 moments from 2017 and get excited about all that’s in store for the year ahead.
1) Doors Open at the NYRR RUNCENTER featuring the NB Run Hub
On January 10, 2017, NYRR brought to life its mission to help and inspire people through running with the grand opening of a new community running space on West 57th Street in Manhattan. Since January, the NYRR RUNCENTER featuring the NB Run Hub has hosted 235 free events, including yoga classes, panel discussions, pro athlete appearances, book clubs, and group runs.
In addition to serving as a meeting spot for runners across NYC’s five boroughs and a convenient place to shop for shoes and gear while picking up race materials, the RUNCENTER is also home to the 1 for You 1 for Youth shoe donation program that benefits youth runners in New York City and nationwide. When you purchase a pair of shoes at the NB Run Hub, New Balance will donate a brand-new pair to a kid in our youth programs.* Since the program launched, NYRR has distributed more than 3,500 pairs of New Balance running shoes to participants in its nationwide free youth running and fitness programs.
2) Hat Tricks for Molly Huddle and Ernst van Dyk at the United Airlines NYC Half
On March 19, American runner Molly Huddle and South African wheelchair racer Ernst van Dyk both clinched their third-consecutive United Airlines NYC Half titles as they led the way for nearly 20,000 runners traversing the 13.1-mile course in Manhattan.
Huddle, an NYRR Team for Kids Ambassador, took the tape in 1:08:19, just ahead of her training partner Emily Sisson, who was making her half-marathon debut on the streets of New York and finished in 1:08:21.
South Africa’s two-time New York City Marathon champion and 10-time Boston Marathon champion Ernst van Dyk won his third consecutive title in the men’s wheelchair division, clocking in at 47:28 after taking the lead very early on in a hilly Central Park.
3) NYRR Open Run Expands to Three New Parks
This spring, NYRR Open Run, a community-based initiative that brings free weekly runs and walks to local neighborhood parks in New York City, expanded to three new sites, bringing the total number of NYRR Open Run locations to 13.
NYRR Open Run rolled out in Queens’ Flushing Meadows Corona Park in April, Brooklyn’s Highland Park in May, and the Bronx’s Soundview Park in June.
“NYRR Open Run truly fulfills New York Road Runners’ mission to help and inspire people through running,” said Michael Schnall, vice president of community engagement initiatives for New York Road Runners. “Since the program’s inception nearly two years ago, we have seen community members at all ability levels come together for the common goals of leading active lives, becoming invested in their local parks, and developing new social networks in their neighborhoods, and we’re thrilled to be able to offer this initiative to three new deserving communities.”
April also marked the 100th NYRR Open Run for Remi Chian, a mechanical engineer from Brooklyn and the first person to hit this milestone. Chian’s made a habit out of attending multiple sessions each week and has run in nearly every park in NYC.
4) We Reimagine Our Free Youth Fitness Program
In May, we announced a restructuring to our youth programs; what had been Mighty Milers and Young Runners would become Rising New York Road Runners, a new approach to youth fitness focused on physical literacy and long-term athlete development.
The program launched in full with the start of the 2017–2018 school year, and NYRR youth programs continue to serve nearly 267,000 students, including 134,000 within New York City.
One example of this new curriculum can be seen in our youth events. While previously participants would take place in a single race of varying distances, participants in Rising New York Road Runners are now grouped into stages based on their age and fitness level, and take part in several fitness activities before their running event.
Rising New York Road Runners had a presence at the TCS New York City Marathon, with more than 3,000 students participating throughout race week at the Rising New York Road Runners Jamboree Presented by Tata Consultancy Services, the TCS Run with Champions, and the Rising New York Road Runners Youth Invitational at the TCS New York City Marathon. In addition, five Rising NYRR Youth Ambassadors—one from each New York City borough—served as Grand Marshals in the lead vehicle on race day, accompanied by Rising New York Road Runners Ambassador and Special Advisor Jenny Simpson.
5) We Host the Biggest Half-Marathon in the Country
A total of 27,445 runners crossed the finish line at the 2017 Airbnb Brooklyn Half on May 20, making it the largest half-marathon in the United States in 2017. The course took runners through the heart of Brooklyn, beginning near the historic Brooklyn Museum, over the rolling hills of Prospect Park, through Grand Army Plaza, and down to the finish line on the world-famous Coney Island boardwalk.
It provided the perfect backdrop for the official kickoff of wedding season. Participants Alex Salazar and Krissa Cetner tied the knot at Mile 6 on the course. Amanda Hughes and Joel Tse celebrated the start of their wedding day by traversing from Prospect Park to Coney Island with 60 of their friends and family racing beside them. They finished the day saying their “I do’s” in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood.
6) Global Running Day Treadmill Challenge Goes for 36 Hours
In celebration of Global Running Day, the world’s greatest running community came together on Wednesday, June 7, for the NYRR Global Running Day Treadmill Challenge. The relay continued for more than 36 hours (36:13:37 to be exact) at the NYRR RUNCENTER with 250 runners each completing one mile at 9:41 pace or faster.
Among these 250 runners were New York Road Runners members, NYRR staff and board members, club runners, professional athletes, local celebrities, city officials, and participants in NYRR Striders, NYRR Open Run, NYRR Team for Kids, and NYRR Run for the Future.
We took a shot at a world record as a way to draw attention to the transformative power of running. Though ultimately Guinness World Records officials were not able to ratify our world record, we sure had fun attempting it!
7) Races to Embrace the Entire Community
Building upon the momentum of Global Running Day, NYRR events throughout the month of June showed how the running community—around the world and especially in New York City—welcomes runners of all backgrounds and abilities.
On June 10, the NYRR New York Mini 10K celebrated its 46th running through Central Park. As the world's original all-women road race, the event welcomed Olympic-caliber athletes to lead a field of more than 8,000 women. Mary Keitany, who had set a marathon world record for an all-women race at the London Marathon in April, broke the tape for her second win at the Mini.
The last weekend in June featured a double-header of races, with the Front Runners New York LGBT Pride Run (5M) on the 24th and the Achilles Hope & Possibility (4M) on the 25th.
The Pride Run, in its 35th year, continued NYRR's strong relationship with Front Runners New York, the city's first club for LGBT runners. The next day's race, operating in partnership with Achilles International, featured divisions for wheelchair athletes, handcyclists, ambulatory disabled, and visually impaired athletes, providing them a space right alongside 5,500 fellow runners.
8) Serious Fun Is Infused Into Summer Racing
As summer heated up, so did our line-up of social-themed races. On June 4, more than 7,500 runners took a trip back in time at the NYRR Retro 5-Miler, an annual favorite that gives participants an excuse to don old-school running gear in Central Park.
Then came the first-ever NYRR Brooklyn R-U-N 5K on July 17. The Monday night event was held in Prospect Park and invited nearly 4,700 runners to kick back with friends after work. Following their 3.1 miles, runners enjoyed lawn games, food truck fare, and frozen treats, while watering holes throughout the borough congratulated finishers with craft beer specials.
On Thursday, July 27, it was Manhattan’s turn: More than 4,800 runners swapped their work clothes for shorts and singlets and raced the original NYRR R-U-N 5K in Central Park.
9) Running for Youth in Central Park
On July 8, more than 1,900 runners took on the inaugural NYRR 1 for You 1 for Youth 4M, an event with a unique—and heartwarming—twist: For the race souvenir, entrants received a pair of New Balance running shoes, and as part of NYRR and New Balance's 1 for You 1 for Youth program, a runner in NYRR's youth programs also received a pair of New Balance shoes, free of charge.* In this way the event supported the 1 for You 1 for Youth initiative, launched this year to provide young runners with new and high-quality running shoes.
When students receive their shoes, there’s always a celebration. On September 18, for example, New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner joined NYRR to distribute New Balance running shoes to students at P.S. 43 in the Bronx.
10) Jenny Simpson Snags Her Sixth Win at the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile
Jenny Simpson is a regular at the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile—and on its podium. This year, the 31-year-old Olympian and Team New Balance athlete raced to her record-extending sixth win, matching the event-record time of 4:16.6 set by PattiSue Plumer in 1990.
“I thought the course record would have been out of reach for my whole career, so I’m really proud to have equaled it,” Simpson said on race day.
The September 10 event had 7,710 finishers, the most ever in the 37-year history of the 5th Avenue Mile, the world’s largest and longest-running road mile race.
11) NYRR Youth Wheelchair Training Program Participants Shine Bright
It’s important to us that people of all ages and abilities have opportunities to take part in our events, and the NYRR Youth Wheelchair Training Program is part of that. Held on Saturdays throughout the year, the program introduces youth ages 7 to 21 to the sport of wheelchair racing and teaches them the basics, like chair fit, pushing technique, and safety. Many of the 15-20 youth who attend the weekend sessions go on to race in NYRR events like Rising New York Road Runners at the United Airlines NYC Half as well as the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile.
This year, NYRR Youth Wheelchair Training Program participant Emma Albert (above, third from left), a 14-year-old from Manhattan, served as a Youth Ambassador at the TCS New York City Marathon and was one of the five Rising New York Road Runners selected to serve as Grand Marshals at the event. Another participant, 8-year-old Gabriel Mora, was named one of the “10 coolest kids we met in 2017” by Scholastic Classroom Magazines.
12) New, Easy-to-Use Online Tools Unveiled
This year, we’ve made it easier to access the NYRR community on the go, as we launched a redesigned results system, a year-round mobile app for race registration, and a blog for stories about NYRR runners on and off the course.
As 2016 turned to 2017, we transitioned into our new NYRR Race Results system, offering an easy-to-read, mobile-optimized experience to view and share your race results. In this new database, stats from NYRR's weekly races and the New York City Marathon are combined, so you can check all of your past results in one place.
In February, we released the NYRR App, a new tool for race registration, live runner tracking, learning about NYRR RUNCENTER programs, and more—all from your phone. The app is free and available in the App Store and in Google Play.
Finally, in May, we launched The Run On, a blog where, well, you know what it is—you’re reading it right now. (And if you didn’t realize that, then welcome!) The Run On is our space to share stories from our running community. In 2017, we covered Global Running Day from the NYRR RUNCENTER and around the world, featured in-depth stories about runners taking on this year’s TCS New York City Marathon—including individuals training through the hurricanes that swept through Puerto Rico—and counted down to Meb Keflezighi’s final competitive marathon with our weekly Meb Marathon Moment Mondays series. We can’t wait to show you what’s in store for 2018!
13) Public Schoolyards Are Transformed Into State-of-the-Art Community Playgrounds
During TCS New York City Marathon week in 2016, NYRR announced a new partnership with The Trust for Public Land, breaking ground on a project that would revitalize the playground at C.S. 154 Harriet Tubman Learning Center in Harlem.
The playground was one of three projects that the partnership would complete in 2017, as NYRR made a $1 million contribution to refurbish outdoor spaces at C.S. 154, the Piagentini and Jones Educational Complex in the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx, and P.S. 120 in Flushing, Queens.
One year later, on October 30, 2017, NYRR celebrated the opening of the C.S. 154 playground with a tape-breaking ceremony, as Rising New York Road Runners Ambassador and Special Advisor Jenny Simpson accompanied students in NYRR’s youth programs across the playground track’s finish line.
Stay tuned for more from this initiative—in 2018, we'll begin refurbishing four new playgrounds.
14) USATF 5K Championships Are Part of the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K
The Abbott Dash to the Finish 5K annually invites runners to cross the TCS New York City Marathon finish line a day before the big race, but this year the Dash came with an added bonus: The event incorporated the USATF 5K Championships, bringing some of America’s fastest professional runners out to compete through New York City streets and into Central Park.
The men’s race came down to a six-man sprint over the final 200 meters, with Shadrack Kipchirchir breaking the tape in 13:57. On the women’s side, Molly Huddle followed up her United Airlines NYC Half win from March by breaking her own Dash 5K course record in 15:24. The victory marked her sixth national title in the road 5K and her 13th-straight win at a national championships event on the roads, as well as the 19th national road title of her career.
15) With an Emotional Finish, Shalane Flanagan Wins the Women’s Open Division at the TCS New York City Marathon
In 1976, the New York City Marathon moved out of Central Park and into the streets of New York City, on a course that united all five boroughs within 26.2 miles. That year, Miki Gorman of the United States won the women’s race, and she successfully defended her title the following year.
An American woman hadn’t reached the top of the New York City Marathon podium since Gorman’s win in 1977, but on November 5, Shalane Flanagan broke the tape and the streak. Crossing the finish line in 2:26:53, Flanagan won the women's division of the open race, recording the second-fastest time by an American woman in event history.
Born in Boulder, CO, raised in Marblehead, MA, and currently living and training in Portland, OR, Flanagan became the first American woman to win the open division of an Abbott World Marathon Majors race since Deena Kastor in London in 2006.
Flanagan is also the third NYRR Team for Kids Ambassador to have a New York City Marathon title to their name; Meb Keflezighi won the race in 2009 and became an ambassador in 2014, and Tatyana McFadden, joining NYRR's Team for Kids in 2015, has won two of her five titles in the team's signature green jersey (2015 and 2016). In August, Flanagan kicked off her involvement with NYRR's youth programs by serving as a race buddy at the Percy Sutton Harlem 5K Run, running alongside a student in NYRR’s Run for the Future program.
16) We Celebrate the Final Finishers in the TCS New York City Marathon
Continuing the New York Road Runners tradition of welcoming everyone to the finish line—from the world-class athletes at the front, to the mid-packers, to the final finishers—NYRR president, events, and TCS New York City Marathon race director Peter Ciaccia brought along a few friends to join the celebration at the TCS New York City Marathon.
Hours after they themselves had completed the race, a group of professional runners and wheelchair athletes, including 2017 women’s open division champion Shalane Flanagan and five-time women’s wheelchair division champion Tatyana McFadden, came back to the finish line to support their fellow marathoners and hand out finisher medals.
“I feel like I just won the lottery,” said one finisher after receiving his medal from Flanagan.
Before the race, Ciaccia had written a post for The Run On, explaining why he sticks around as night falls:
Knowing how much commitment it takes to train and how hard it is to run 26.2 miles, I want them to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I want them to know we truly care. I want to say thank you to each of them for being part of this day. And that is why I stay at the finish line in Central Park and wait for them all to arrive, no matter how late.
Read more about Ciaccia celebrating our final finishers at all NYRR races, and be on the lookout for some of NYRR’s “night owls” at next year’s marathon
17) Meb Keflezighi Races His 26th and Final Career Marathon on the Streets of NYC
After a professional career that spanned nearly 20 years, Meb Keflezighi ran his 26th and final competitive marathon at the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon. Keflezighi, who made his marathon debut in New York City in 2002 and won the race in 2009, completed his 11th run through the five boroughs in 11th place, finishing in 2:15:29. Joining him to celebrate were more than 30 members of his family, who flew to New York City from around the world to see him run his last 26.2-miler.
In the lead up to the race, NYRR’s The Run On posted a weekly Meb Marathon Moment Monday story, detailing each of his past experiences at the New York City Marathon, and followed up with one last story the day after his grand finale this year.
Thank You for Being Part of the NYRR Community!
To the runners, staff, volunteers, teachers, students, parents, and partners who make up the most vibrant running community in the world, thank you for an amazing 2017! We’re ending the year feeling energized about all that’s to come in 2018 and we can’t wait to see you again at an upcoming race, community run, or RUNCENTER event.
*1 FOR YOU 1 FOR YOUTH DISCLOSURE: For every pair of athletic shoes sold to a customer at the NYRR RUNCENTER featuring the NB Run Hub in New York City, New Balance shall donate a pair of new athletic shoes to New York Road Runners, a 501(c)(3) public charity, for the benefit of a New York Road Runners supported youth program, up to a maximum value of $500,000 based on New Balance’s then current wholesale pricing. This Promotion shall run from December 12, 2016 to December 31, 2017. For more information about New York Road Runners visit nyrr.org.