NYRR Team Championships 2019
TEAM PRIDE , TEAM PICNIC AND A SLURPEE STRATEGY: HARRIERS CRUSH TEAM CHAMPS
Saturday, July 27, 2019
It was a typical hot July summer morning, as 78 Harriers toed the start line of the 2019 NYRR Team Championships race.
The 5 mile loop of the park is a popular one for the Harriers and many other local teams. With separate races for the men and the women, it’s an opportunity for teammates to cheer each other on. It’s also a big targeted race for the team.
First up this year were the women. There were many strong performances, Michelle Hillenbrand crushing a PR as the first woman Harrier across the finish line in 30:00. Directly behind her were Morgan Lingar (30:31) and Laura Kelly (31:34). Additionally Mirjam Lablans, Donna Duque and Trish Piekarski all set personal bests.
The women’s team was buoyed by the men cheering at Mile 1 and again a half mile from the finish. Ari Scott, running her first Team Champs and placing for the masters team, says seeing all the Harriers as she approached the home stretch “helped push me to my fastest mile of the race!”
For many, the Harriers training plan was a big boost. Mirjam Lablans, who placed for the women’s masters team, says her training partners on the course inspired her to push through the more challenging moments. “Big shout out to Christina Wong -- I couldn't catch her, but tried to keep her ever-shrinking H jersey in my line of sight.” Another morning crew runner, Liza Tarbell, zipped by Mirjam during the last half mile to help her cross the finish line in an enthusiastic (and painful) quarter mile sprint.
The men were up next with some strong finishes as well. Thomas Kennedy came in first (27:25), Jack Fitzhenry (27:28) and Matthew Billings (27:58) hot on his tail. Justin Perkins, John Lynch, Dan Goldstein and Stephen Lunsford all nailed PRs as well.
John was also grateful for the coaching support and “a really solid training program,” particularly the “10 x Cat Hill Repeat workout and the 12 x 400 workout (as painful as they were) -- that helped me shave some time off of my 5 mile PR.”
Stephen, who was doing his first Team Champs, credits the women’s cheer squad for helping him crush his race. “I’m super grateful to be a part of such an awesome team,” he says. Gavin Goldstein agrees: “I loved seeing so many Hs on the line and in the field.” Harriers Treasurer Aaron Gaskins says he “couldn't help but speed up as I passed the gauntlet of Harrier women,” and given the unforgiving summer weather, “was pleased to just survive that humidity!”
That humidity was no match for one Harriers’ new pre-race strategy. Dan points to a study that shows, “drinking ice slush” as the most effective pre-race cooling strategy. Science motivated his 7-Eleven pre-race run to deliver some delicious Slurpees to Harrier Rock, which he and others sipped before the starting horn sounded. “That, combined with pouring water over my head at every aid station, yielded great results,” he says, pointing to his nearly 3 minute PR. Perhaps next year’s race will feature a group order from the nearest convenience store.
Team Champs isn’t just about racing, it’s also about fun. The day brings together the entire running community with many of the local teams coming out not just to cheer on their teammates, but to celebrate afterwards with team banners, photos and picnics.
Eduardo Brandao pushed through a tough race, finishing just shy of a new PR. The annual post-race picnic at Harrier Rock took out some of the sting. “As usual, the picnic was awesome!” Dan seized the opportunity to hang out with his teammates “and even see Harrier friends from out of town who came in for the race.”
The team made quick work of the delicious picnic-fare and cool beverages, and basked in the company of their fellow Harriers, celebrating the women and men open teams’ top ten place and the men’s masters team in 5th.