MANHATTAN BRIDGE HOST: BROOKLYN NAVY TRACK CREW

This year, we are partnering with crews around the city, to give a true look into the neighborhood of each our bridges we are running.  In doing so, we will connect with the local runners in our community and get an insider's look into the areas they run in. For our first bridge of the series, Manhattan, we have Brooklyn Navy Track Crew as our hosts.  The group was formed in the past year, by Leighanne Sharek, Agustin Lastra, and Steven Finley.  Taking top places in OSR's Midnight Half and Women's 10K, and previous TTB races, they are quickly making a mark on local urban races and becoming known for their speed.  We sat down with the leaders, to learn a little more about their "tribe" and the neighborhood they run in:

 Photo by Stefania Curto

Photo by Stefania Curto

Tell us about the inspiration for BNTC and what motivated you in forming this crew.  How would you say the vibe of your group differs from some of the other crews in NYC and how are they the same?

AL: BNTC was born out of day drinking. Truth be told, what's better after an early run on a hot morning than a well earned beer or perhaps many, science does support this. Anyhow, Steve, Leighanne and myself found each-other in this state after a hot morning run. We all agreed, we liked running with each-other and felt left out by what was being offered in the running community. The running community in NYC is mostly composed of primitive organizations, we wanted our own tribe in the community and hence started to think carefully about who and what we wanted to do. We remain to be a very loose structured crew, and attempt to stay small, fast and chill as factors that characterize our crew.
 Photo provided by Strava

Photo provided by Strava

Smaller running crews have been steadily growing in the NYC running community and in many major cities world wide.  How do you compare "crews" to the more traditional "club"?  How do you see these crews informing how people view the sport of running?

AL: Crews are like Tribes, like minded people associate as they seem fit. Most crews are loosely structured yet strive from the internal energy and connection among their members. Clubs have rules and guidelines, are associated to official running organization that impose rules on them and their member's behaviors. Clubs are legacy structures of the running community, they orbit around the NYRR and the NYC Marathon. In a crew, each member has their goals, their own races and schedule. We attempt to come together when possible to train, help and inspire each other. Clubs attempt to grow and become large, they become political and fragmented. Crews are small tight knit groups. I think Crews are growing today as people are eager to join groups where they have deeper connection and more in common in smaller groups of people. Yet, a network of crews can suddenly become a powerful movement.

Leighanne, you have run our race in the past, taking 1st place at Williamsburg and Manhattan last year, and 2nd place at Williamsburg this year.  Do you plan on running Manhattan this year? What draws you to these urban races, and what has your experience been of our TTB races in the past?

LS: I plan on running all of the TTB races! They are so much fun - super low key yet competitive. I think what draws me to the urban races is the feeling of being included in these 'unsanctioned elite' events. It sounds cliche, but just like an exclusive night club or the Soho House, you almost need to know someone to get in. For the typical NYC runner, by the time you hear about an unsanctioned race, it's probably too late to sign up. That's changing, but the small exclusive feel is still there. They are all street races; we don't shut any roads down or clear the pathways on the bridges- you just go with it. It's exciting. The TTB races, as well as the other urban races I've done, have a small start list. So each competitor is known, each one a very important part of the race. Also, the community of runners who plug into these types of races is still on the small side. You get to know people, runners and supporters- it's awesome. That's been my experience at the TTB races: it's a very intimate group of runners and supporters that create this special, comfortable environment that is truly one of the most enjoyable and satisfying  events I've been to
 Photo provided by Strava

Photo provided by Strava

Tell us more about the area in Brooklyn you run in (Dumbo/navy yard):

SF: the Brooklyn naval yard is a 200 acre facility located on the east river that opened in 1806. Adjacent to the naval yard are the neighborhoods of dumbo and vinegar hill. dumbo is an old warehouse district where ships used to come in and drop cargo off. Vinegar hill is the neighborhood where the civilians who worked in the naval yard lived. There is so much history there- which makes for a really quiet, interesting place to live and run in. The cobblestone streets and old town feel are so unique to that part of Brooklyn, there really is nothing like it. The whole area was basically abandoned after the naval yard closed in 1966 and has just recently been restored. Part of the revitalization includes Brooklyn bridge park, which has a great path accessible to bikes and runners and goes all the way to red hook. The BNTC runners utilize this often on our runs, as well as flushing ave and prospect park, which is a short run away. 

Favorite running routes in your hood:

01  Running from Dumbo to Greenpoint around the Yard and down Kent street bordering the Williamsburg waterfront.
02  Running thru the crowded Dumbo Waterfront thru the industrial waterfront to IKEA, thru it's gardens and finally arriving to the under-utilized Red Hook Track which is awesome.
03  Runner up is running to Prospect Park, but running on Flaaaaatbuusshhhh (French Accent, don't ask), can be tedious though running around Prospect Park is amazing and much less crowded than Central Park unless it's Sunday and Carribean Night is on then it's a party.

Favorite workout:

AL: Any workout in which you encounter race pace, whether it be a track workout of many repeats or a long workout with tempo pace towards the end
 Photo by Ben Ko

Photo by Ben Ko