Ted Corbitt 15K Race Report

Name of the race: Ted Corbitt 15K

Where: Central Park, Manhattan, NY

Date: Dec 8, 2018

Time: 8:30 am

Distance: 9.3 miles

Terrain: rolling hills

Entry fee: $23

Swag: Long-sleeved tech shirt

Post-race Food: Bagels, apples, water, and Gatorade

Time: 1:14:27

Performance: Overall: 1197/4971; Gender: 255/2418; Age (40-44): 33/316

Weather: 27 degrees, 54% humidity

If you run, especially in races, then Ted Corbitt has influenced your life. Ted Corbitt is one of America’s pioneer in long distance running, who found success despite racial barriers that were placed against his participation. As a college athlete, he would travel to events not knowing if he would be allowed to compete or even where he would be sleeping or eating. He was an Olympian (’52 Helsinki Games), 4-time winner of the Philadelphia Marathon, and the 1954 US National Marathon Champion. He co-founded the Road Runner’s Club of America and the New York Road Runners and became the president of both organizations. He was an ultramarathoner and held several world records. Corbitt developed the standardized method for measuring courses using a calibrated bicycle wheel that is used in certifying courses. Before Corbitt, measuring courses was far more lackadaisical and would use things like a car odometer. If you like your precisely measured courses, thank Corbitt.

Reading: NY Times obituary
Corbitt: The Story of Ted Corbitt, Long Distance Runner

Now for the much less exciting part of talking about my own running . . .

The plan was that I was going to do a long 6-8 mile warm up, where the last few miles would be a GMP and then I would go into the 15K at GMP and perhaps go even a tad faster. Altogether, I would run 15-17 miles and this would be my long run of the week.

I wasn’t really quite sure how I wanted to do the warm up because there was a the problem of the wait period between the warm up and the race. The temperatures were below freezing and because of the logistics of the race, I wouldn’t have access to throw away clothes. I figured the safest thing for me to do was to do the warm up on the treadmill and then go to the race in throw away clothes. There would be a long gap between the warm up and the race, but I figured that was better than freezing to death in my sweat. That morning the treadmill decided not to work, so I had no choice but to warm up in Central Park anyway. I decided to risk missing my corral by timing the end of the warm up to be as close the start of the race as possible in order to minimize standing around freezing in my sweat.

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Post-race – I’m freezing

Miraculously, it all worked out. I did a 6-mile warm up and I finished it up with a few minutes to spare. I even got to see Ari before the race! Ari, if you remember is my blogger friend – the one I dragged all over northern Manhattan.

Sometimes I wonder why NYRR bother with having corrals in the first place. Before the start of the race, they’re pretty good about policing people to make sure they go into their correct corrals, but then they later collapsed the corrals so that in the end everyone is all mixed up. Even though I had an E bib*, I found myself standing with runners wearing various letters.

It’s been years since I ran an NYRR race that was wholly in Central Park. It hasn’t changed. The first couple of miles were insanely congested, which was fine because it meant I could not start out too fast. My main concern was to get into a groove and not get boxed in.

Eventually I found a good spot to be in, but I never felt like I got into a race groove. Even though I was moving and no longer cold, I didn’t feel comfortable. I was desperately grateful for the hand warmers because they kept my hands comfortable. I hate running with cold fingers. It hurts. About half way through the race, I thought that I was ready for the race to be over. Not because I was hurting or exerting so much effort in racing, but more because I was cold, despite running at a good effort. I was grateful to the shouts and cheers from teammates who came out to spectate and to volunteer. They made everything better.

I also ran terrible tangents because even when it was no longer tightly packed, there were still too many people to effectively run the best route. As such, I didn’t quite know what I was running because my Garmin beeped way off the mile markers.

I ran by effort and in the last few miles to speed up. I tried, but I got a terrible side stitch in the last half mile of the race. I grimaced and bore the pain all the way to the finish line. The final time was 1:14:27, which was a perfect 8:00 minute mile pace! Nailed it.

I met up with Ari after the race. We chatted and invited each other to our team’s post-race brunch. One of the things I like about the NY running club scene is that we’re all pretty friendly with each other (even more so outside of NY because it’s a whole mentality of NYers gotta stick together).

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We run, then we eat!

I love post-race brunches; it’s a fun way to getting know teammates. Frank, who is one of the oldest members of the club, showed up and it was real treat to have him. He regaled us with stories of the early running days of NY; he knew Fred Lebow, Ted Corbitt, and all the running greats of NYC. Because this was the Ted Corbitt 15K, he told us about the races that Corbitt used to organize and all the track ultras there were in those days. Trail ultras, which are de rigeur now, were practically non-existent back then. Ultras, originally, were done on tracks or small loops in a park in order to keep track of runners and the distance they ran. Being that PPTC is one of the oldest running clubs in New York, we have a lot wonderful running history in our club. I love hearing stories about the club’s traditions, the people who founded the club, and everything else. There are a lot of new (and dare I say trendy) running clubs in NYC, but I love the sense of history and continuity that PPTC provides. Those people created the legacy and the running boom that resulted in the current culture of running and fitness that exist today.

*In NYRR races, you’re corralled by your 10K pace (whether it’s from a 10K or the equivalent 10K pace based upon a race of a different distance). Double AA is the fastest and very few runners have those. Having an A bib is considered to be a mark of honor. Think of the A bib as being NYRR’s version of an OTQ. Hahahaha!

9 thoughts on “Ted Corbitt 15K Race Report

  1. I agree with you on the corral for the popular NYRR races. I think that I dedicated a post to rant about it. I also agree with you about the congestion, especially on 102nd transverse.

    I feel like a slacker because I had a B bib for this race, but I can no longer live up to that potential. Hey, at least I’m self-aware enough about the lack of my potential and I started the race with folks in the E/F corrals.

    • I moved up a corral thanks to my time in this race, but I doubt it will help with the congestion.

      I’m impressed that you have a B bib. I got an “A” bib one (it was before they moved the letter system when they had the colored bibs), but it was totally by accident. I mistyped what my pace was going to be for one of the NYRR and they accepted it.

  2. Great race and also great to see you! I am so lazy, I’m only writing my recap about it today. I’m so impressed with your time considering you ran 6 miles BEFORE the start as well. And yeah, that congestion at the start sucks – it’s a bad place to start a race but seeing the distance and where they want the finish to be, I’m not sure what the alternative is (other than just starting and ending in a completely different part of the park). Anyway hope to see you soon and this time we’ll do brunch!

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