We'll say it. We had some concerns about Take The Bridge Queensboro, with its tight course that left little space for runners to maneuver around bike traffic. We scouted the course a dozen times, with some help from host crews Lost Boys and MTAR, before we were satisfied. With spots selling out within an hour of our opening registration, we knew the race -- part two of our three-part 2016 series -- would be our biggest and fastest to date. There were two sold-out fields, a full waitlist and an awesome vibe on social media. All this before even announcing the directions to the afterparty (and its promised ice cold beer)?! Hmm, maybe we were on to something.
Fast-forward to race night. In muggy late-summer conditions, 23 men and 23 women bested a technical course that started and finished on the Queensboro's steep three-quarter mile ramp. The loaded fields delivered fast times and tight races. New runners represented -- the top three men and women made a Take The Bridge debut. Crew love abounded -- three quarters of all registrants had a team affiliation. November Project and Brooklyn Navy Track Crew turned out in force for the women, while co-host Lost Boys put three men in the top five. And there was finisher's confetti. Yes, confetti!
Notre Dame track and cross-country alumna Meg Ryan threw down a powerful TTB debut, converting an early lead into the prime and the win. But three ladies followed within 12 seconds -- Dashing Whippets’ Elizabeth Laseter, Long Island’s Bellmore Striders’ Victoria Kornieva-Robitaille and Brooklyn Navy Track Crew’s Leigh Anne Sharek, a two-time TTB winner and three-time prime winner. We knew the women’s race would be hard to call, as two-time defending winner Jennie Cohen (Dashing Whippets) was out recovering from hip surgery (speedily, we hope Jennie!). But such a strong performance across the field sent a message to the fans -- and the men, waiting to race -- that this event had reached a new level.
“I have ran this bridge many times. I know the inclines also the slopes in the downgrade. But I could not go in like I was going to walk away with the win.”
Jerry Faulkner may be too humble to admit it, but he was the heavy favorite to win the men’s race. We predicted it (and that wasn’t exactly going out on a limb). Jerry is one of the fastest men in NYC, and was determined not to lose on his home bridge. And he delivered, averaging 4:50 per mile over the brutal 2.25 mile out-and-back course from the Queens side of bridge.
But we’re happy to say that’s where our predictive powers ran dry. And boy are these new faces exciting! For one, Jerry was pushed by Sean Mahon of Long Island’s Bellmore Striders, who won the prime and ran in front until the Queensboro’s final tower. #Badass. Syracuse track and x-c alum Zach Rivers followed in third, followed by Lost Boys teammate and TTB veteran Tim Rossi. And Jordan Rose came up big for Dashing Whippets in his own TTB debut. A strong hill runner, Jordan hung hot on Tim's heels to cross in fifth.
STRAVA SERIES PRIZES UPDATE
Barring an upset, BNTC is a favorite to keep their edge for the Strava Series team prize - that’s $250 bones, to be awarded after Take The Bridge Brooklyn in October. But the Dashing Whippets are gathering steam, as they are rumored to have some speedy teammates join Elizabeth at Brooklyn, which could make it interesting at the very least. Lost Boys also boosted its lead over November Project, scoring a ton of points thanks to Jerry, Zach and Tim.
The Strava series individual prize ($150) is very tight for both individual races. We love that. TTB legends Tim Rossi and Daniel Marin are neck--in-neck for men, while Leigh Anne Sharek holds a four-point lead on a trio of runners tied for second place. But there you have it. There are a half dozen runners within striking distance. Sean, Zach, Jeremy Mulvey of Lost Boys, Elizabeth, Carly Gill of BNTC, Jessica Snider-Rodriguez of November Project...Man oh man, TTB Brooklyn will be exciting.
THE AFTER PARTY
[TTB is] like a huge family getting competitive and wanting nothing more than beating each other for 15 minutes before being friends again. Phillip Heer, LSTC
TTB races are all about mixing competition and camaraderie. Remember high school or college track, when you actually knew the people you raced against? You’d be beasts on the track, and friends off it? We value that vibe. And this time, Rockaway Brewing, a mile from race start/finish in Long Island City, was a great backdrop for the whole TTB community -- runners, race crew, fans, photogs -- to talk shop over beers. Sweet race, followed by party in a brewery (as in they made the beer you’re drinking 50 feet away), all in a great part of town? We love it too, and we don’t know how we’ll top this one!! But we are already hard at work planning TTB Brooklyn, with co-hosts Girls Run NYC and Resident Runners. See you there!