Name of the race: Cypress Hills Cemetery 5K
Where: Cypress Hills Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY
Date: June 25, 2017
Time: 9:00 am
Distance: 3.1 miles
Entry fee: $35
Post-race Food: Bagels with cream cheese and butter, orange slices, bananas, apples, fruit cups, iced tea, lemonade, orange juice, and water
Swag: Cotton t-shirt
Performance: Overall: 20/162; Gender: 5/76; Age (35-39): 1/12
Weather: 75 degrees, 57% humidity
A 5K in a cemetery! How unusual! I heard about this race last year, but I was already signed up for the Coney Island 5K. This year, I chose to do Cypress Hills Cemetery 5K instead of the Coney Island 5K. Cypress Hills Cemetery 5K bills itself as a run through history because the course goes back the gravestones of:
-Jackie Robinson (First man to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier)
-Mae West (Brooklyn born, Vaudeville performer and movie star of the 1920’s and 1930’s)
-Peter Luger (Famous restaurateur/steak house owner)
-Ignacy Paderewski (Polish pianist and composer)
-Charlotte Ray (First African American female attorney in the U.S)
-Eubie Blake (Jazz composer and musician)
I was forewarned that the race was hilly and it was indeed. The first mile goes straight up where apparently at the top you’re rewarded with a fantastic view of Brooklyn and Queens (the cemetery is right at the border of the two boroughs). I wouldn’t know because I completely did not see anything because I was so focused on running. I wanted to treat this race as a tempo progression, so I focused on not going out too fast for the first mile. I saw that I completed the first mile in 8:10, which worried me slightly that I went out too fast with the hills, but when I assessed how I was breathing and feeling, I decided it was fine.
The second mile was full of rolling hills. Again, I kept myself in check, because I didn’t want to burn out during the last mile. I pushed myself a bit to go a little faster, but refrained from going all out at this point. Mile 2 was 8:03. I was satisfied.
The last mile, I turned it up. I focused on the runners ahead of me and slowly began picking them off. For much of the mile, there’s a gentle decline because you’re going back to the start line, but a quarter mile before the finish line, there’s one final steep hill before you get to a downhill finish. Thankfully a woman who was standing in line with me for the restroom before the start, warned me about this, otherwise, I would have just lost it mentally. I knew the final hill was there, so I saved something in me to do one last final climb.
Up, up, up, I climbed. My heart pounded like crazy. I was so relieved when the climb was over. I made a left turn, ran a short flat distance before I made another left turn for the downhill straight to the finish line. I sprinted down in hopes that I could catch one last person, but alas, he still beat me to the finish line.
The last mile I completed in 7:45. My total time was 24:30.
I was really happy with this race. I ran a very solid tempo pace on a hilly course. For fun, I compared this 5K to the Coney Island one from last year that I did in 24:21. It was only 9 seconds faster on a much easier flat course. I’m definitely in better shape this year than I was this time last year.
Cypress Hills Cemetery 5K was fun hilly 5K. Running in a cemetery is certainly different and it was nice to do a BK race that wasn’t in Prospect Park. I was glad to see Robert of Barwick Group, a company that organizes and manages various races in New York and New Jersey. I have done several races with them in the past (as an ambassador and as a paid participant) and they’re always great events.