Running in the New Year with Harry’s Handicap

Unlike last year where we celebrated New Year’s about as far away from home as possible in Nairobi, Kenya (and I kissed a giraffe), this year we celebrated close to home by going to a newly opened bar in our neighborhood and then going to see fireworks at Prospect Park at midnight. There was a pretty sizable crowd at Grand Army Plaza, but it felt like a cozy neighborhood event. Thanks to the unseasonably warm weather, standing outside was comfortable and made for a pleasant viewing experience. The nicest part was when it was all over, it took us just minutes to go home.

This morning we participated in PPTC’s New Year’s Tradition – Harry’s Handicap. It’s a super fun casual race of one loop around Prospect Park. The twist is that when you register, you provide your 5K, 10K, and prediction for 3.33 miles and based upon those times, they handicap you. The slowest runners start first, and other runners start based upon their handicap. So the fastest runners are last to go. If the handicaps are done correctly, then we should all be heading to the finish line at the same time.

As we were getting our bibs, we can fun comparing our handicaps with other runners. Some of the handicaps were a bit “off” to say the least. One of the fastest girls in the club got a very generous handicap and was assigned to be one of the first runners to start. Ben felt a bit pained because his start time was the same as the fastest guys in the club and their 5K times blows Ben’s.

I was assigned to start 15 mins after the start. Originally we decided to have Bandit run with Ben, but she protested. After I started, Bandit escaped away from Ben and ran toward me. Ben tried to chase her down, but I yelled that I would run with Bandit and we began hunting down runners who started ahead of us.

Bandit seemed to understand that we were only chasing down certain people because she got really excited about chasing down red-clad runners and complained vocally when red-clad runners past us. Other runners she ignored. It’s amazing

I finished the loop in 26:16, which is right in the range of what I predicted (26:00 – 26:20). We cheered for the other runners who came in after us, including Ben. I actually finished a race ahead of Ben. Ha!

Afterward we all headed to a community center where PPTC rented a room for the post-race New Year brunch. A huge buffet of bagels, eggs, home fries, bacon, pasta, and a ton of baked goods waited for us. I brought a chickpea spinach curry as our contribution. We ate a lot of food and mingled with other teammates. The older club members talked about their memories of Harry, who founded PPTC and the history of the club. It was a wonderful way of learning about the club and feeling connected to its past. Harry’s Handicap was a fun way of starting out the New Year and I think this may be a start of a new New Year’s tradition for us.

6 thoughts on “Running in the New Year with Harry’s Handicap

  1. That sounds like a perfect weekend. It’s so nice that you found the neighborhood for yourselves and a run club and activities that are perfect. We didn’t make it to midnight but we were watching a little Times Square action on TV and they talked about how nice it was to be inside and not freezing and I made Rock look up the temps. It looked far too nice out to be complaining about the weather!

  2. I just heard about these types of races, they sound really fun. I like picking off runners so this would be right up my alley lol.

    Crazy that bandit knew which runners to go after. Dogs can be amazing at times.

    • Yeah, picking off runners was probably the best part of this race. I even found a last minute kick because a guy that I had earlier passed was coming up on me. I thought to myself that I worked too hard to pass him to get passed by him as we were approaching the finish line. I turned it up another gear and took off.

    • We do have such fun events and I haven’t covered all the stuff PPTC does because I couldn’t make some of the events. For the second year in a row, I missed the annual pajama run where everyone shows up in PJs. The photos of the post-run crowd in a local cafe all in their PJs are hilarious. Some of the runners really get into the theme. We’ve had runners in the past wear a negligee over their running clothes and put their hair in curlers.

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