United Airlines NYC Half Marathon

by Christine Bishop and Friends

On March 17, 2019 the 14th New York City Marathon erupted at 7:30 a.m. in Brooklyn as runners raced toward the finish line in Central Park.  A favored elite who was running it for the first time was amazed by the difficulty of the course.  Paul Chelimo, a 5,000-meter silver medalist at the 2016 Olympics making his half-marathon debut, said the following: “I think I’m very fit, but New York hills are no joke—it’s nothing like the track. The terrain here was hilly, flat, hilly. At some points, my legs felt dead, but then they recovered. I feel like I can do well at the long distances, but I have to build up my mileage and get my legs used to it.”

Just as he described his experience running the Half, I asked members of our club to tell me of theirs.  Enjoy!


Christine Varley

I have never been much of a large city race fan mostly because of the logistics of getting to the starting line and not having my own creature comforts on race day. This year the NYC half reminded me of that. The only way for everyone to get to the start in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, was to take a train, and for me, another train. Being a subway newbie, I messed things up and got myself to the start with literally 1 minute to spare.  Yikes! I had a nice sprint warm up to get to my corral.  Sorry, cool Prospect Park.  I will have to come explore you another day. If the NYRR did not have such an impeccably organized start area in this big park, I would have missed getting into my wave altogether. Once the race went off, all stress went away and I enjoyed this really amazing race. It was a gorgeous sunny mid-March morning, with just a bit of wind. This year’s start had 5 waves, with each wave having A through H corrals. 25,000 participants. The buzz of energy from the hundreds of runners around me was just incredible. We walked slowly for 9+ minutes before we could actually start running, but then things opened up quickly and it was easy to find the pace right away. The first 5 miles went through the streets of Brooklyn before heading up the largest hill of the race, the Manhattan Bridge. What a gorgeous view as we climbed and then zoomed down into Manhattan. Things flattened out for the next 5 miles along the East river. Nice time to pick up the pace since most of the course’s hills are behind for a while. At mile 10 or so, the real city vibe started as we turned onto 42nd Street and a very energetic crowd that would line the course the rest of the way home. Lots of sights to be seen and high fiving to be done if you had the energy. My lack of training started to bite me here as we hit a gradual uphill. So there was no high fiving energy for me, but I did appreciate the spirit of the crowd! We took 42nd street along for a mile and turned onto 7th Avenue as the crowds thickened and got even more spirited. Running through Times Square with only the thick traffic of runners instead of cars was totally astonishing! Mile 12 took us along and into beautiful Central Park, one of my favorite ever places to run.  A mean little hill in the last half-mile made sure that I was totally spent at the end! It was a great and challenging course especially if you are a go-out-too-fast-never-learn kind of runner like me! Don’t come for the after race food, but do come for the pretty finisher medal! The finish line area was as impressively organized as the start was. Bravo, NYRR! This is a must try race! I have never done the NYC full, but I imagine this race captures the NYC spirit and energy, but on a smaller scale. If the full is too much of a stretch for your training, or you just want to have fun in a shorter race and still have energy afterwards to have some city fun, this is race for you!


Samson Dikeman

NYRR set up an excellent but surprising hilly course this year from Prospect Park to Central Park. The run across the Manhattan Bridge was particularly amazing for those who took a second to enjoy the view. It was my first go at a Half Marathon, so I tried to keep the first few miles under control, finding packs to keep my splits consistent. I started to push my tempo around mile 6 as we got into Manhattan and ran up FDR Drive. Around mile 11 up until the last 400 meters, I started to coast, feeling some fatigue setting in, but the last 400 was everything I had which happily enough, helped me get well under my goal of 1:30.


Jennifer Lawrence

This was my fourth running of the NYRR New York Half Marathon, the largest field of this distance in the country I believe. I've qualified by running either the 9+1 program or the borough challenge.

I prefer the previous course of running down the west side of Manhattan, for the tailwind and slight downhill grade. I haven't done as well with the flip to the east side, which seems windier and more tiring.

But I love running in NYC, especially with my adopted hometown club, Queens Distance Runners. Last year I got to run for them in the summertime's Team Championship. It was such a thrill to run with all the other New York clubs and feel like pokey me belonged. I even achieved my fastest NYRR pace by one second at the Pride Run in June, so New York running is very close to my heart and soul.


Sally Drake

I was lucky enough to run the NYC Half-Marathon on March 17 with a good friend, and we enjoyed every moment of the weekend. After a long winter of cold training and countless SUNY loops, we were excited about this destination event!

The race starts in Prospect Park where we arrived at the crack of dawn to join over 25,000 other runners heading to the start area. NYRR events are extremely well organized but you have to be prepared for long lines and waiting. Once corralled, however, the race seems small as you run with a few hundred people close to your pace. The course is a beautiful trek into Manhattan over the Manhattan Bridge, through Times Square and ending in Central Park. The Manhattan Bridge was my favorite part despite the hill--the view is stunning. Times Square is a lot of fun with big crowds cheering you through the last few miles. The last mile was uphill in Central Park--you truly have to work to finish this race! As beautiful and entertaining as the course is, I found it to be very difficult with lots of hills and windy sections. It was one of my slower half-marathon races but I thoroughly enjoyed the scenery and the people as we ran through this dynamic and always energetic city. I have always felt running is the best way to experience a place and nowhere is that truer than NYC.

In classic NYC fashion, after the race, we enjoyed brunch at a hip restaurant and did a little shopping in Chelsea Market before heading to Penn Station for the train home.  A fun, memorable adventure made possible by running!


Colleen Brackett

Since my daughters move to Manhattan, I set a goal to run the NYC Marathon once again. In preparation I ran the 2018 NYC United Airlines Half and discovered such a fun and well organized race that I easily talked my Willow Street teammate Sally Drake to join me for the 2019 running

We set out on a very crisp 32 degrees making our way to Prospect Park via Uber for the start. New York City never fails to disappoint me and NYRR does the best job of organizing their events and supporting their runners. After a very windy Saturday we were pleased to have just the warmth of the sun and cool temps at the gun. The beautiful sunrise made the climb onto the Manhattan Bridge much more tolerable but the energy of the crowd running through Times Square is my favorite. I could do without the 3 miles on the FDR. It felt endless by the time we made the turn onto 42nd street. The slight uphill as you enter Central Park to the finish is tough (it’s the opposite direction of the downhill finish for the marathon). Anyone familiar with running NYC knows the course is not an easy one. It is far from flat.

A respectable finish and a delicious brunch with Bloody Marys made for a perfect Sunday.

1:42:29
11th in my age group
80% age graded


Alyssa Risko

This year’s new course started in Prospect Park, Brooklyn and then we ran past the Barclay Center, across the Manhattan Bridge and then turned off the FDR onto 42nd Street right by the United nations Headquarters, and then past Grand Central Terminal and  Bryant Park, through Times Square, and then to the finish in Central Park!

This is my second time running this race and it had close to 25,000 runners this year, which was a record number. The starting area had a large screen televising the beginning of the wheelchair division and elite runners for all of us to watch while waiting to start!

The course had rolling hills and the Manhattan Bridge was a steady climb!  Security was tight entering the race and there were helicopters and a large police presence throughout.  NYC does a wonderful job handling these events!

This year’s NYC Half was amazing!  I was a bit nervous about running this new course while dealing with an IT band issue but had a solid run.  The views were spectacular from the crossing the Manhattan Bridge to hitting Times Square!  If you haven’t already, you should definitely run a race in the Big Apple!


Roadrunner Sports Article

Wikipedia Article

Jacob Andrews Winning 2016 Hannaford Half Marathon

FYI – Jacob Andrews  of Troy, NY, placed 37th overall in the race and was the top Albany area runner.  Time:  1:09:01  Pace per mile: 5:16 

Splits were:  5K 0:16:18, 10K 0:32:46, 15K 0:49:03. 20K 1:05:30.

Congratulations, Jake!



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