Cypress Hills Cemetery 5K Race Report

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

Terrain: Hilly

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

Time: 24:30

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)

and Cypress Hills Cemetery is the final resting place of many other notable figures that you can read about here.

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.

11 thoughts on “Cypress Hills Cemetery 5K Race Report

    • Highland Park is right near the cemetery and it would be great for hill workouts. Also 9 am on Saturdays, they have NYRR Open Run (a free timed run that roughly a 5k, may be a little short).

    • Thanks! I enjoyed running through the cemetery. When I lived in Toronto, there’s a well-known cemetery that encourages walkers and runners to use the cemetery and even have 5K and 10K routes. It was a really lovely cemetery, especially in the spring when all the blossoms were out.

      • I ran past a veterans’ cemetery during one of my half marathons. It was actually pretty calming since it was early morning and everyone was quiet while running through it. 🙂

    • It was a beautiful summer morning, so nothing spooky about this place during the day. If you were anywhere close to the East Coast, I’d tell you to do the Sleepy Hollow 10K in Tarrytown, NY. A headless horseman leads the start of the race.

  1. This sounds like so much fun. Chicago used to have a Halloween night run in a cemetery. Spooky! Congrats on the really great run. A hilly 5k would totally freak me out on so many levels.

    • I like signing up for hilly races when I know I need to treat a race as a workout and not as a race. The hills prevent me from racing all out. Your comment made me curious about other cemetery races and a quick Google search shows me that there’s quite a few of those around the country.

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