3.2 MANHATTAN | HOSTS: SOUTH BROOKLYN RUN CLUB

It's the beginning of the summer.  Which means, time to take out the racing flats!  Our TTB Summer Series 2017 is shaping up to have a few new surprises.  This year, we are doubling down on our local running clubs + crews!  South Brooklyn Running Club, will host our first race over the Manhattan Bridge.  You’ve seen/met Co-Founder Ben Carter before.  He is the tall one with the clipboard at the end of each of our races! Read on below to hear all about SBRC, and just what they think about “Unsanctioned” racing!


Give us a little background of the club's history, what made you start the club, and how it has evolved.

The Club started because Graham and I wanted more people to listen to our witty banter. Graham and I met at our wives’ office’s Christmas party and we started running together after that. In the spring, we thought it would be fun to have other people around to see me trip or hear Graham’s puns, so we started the Club. SBRC has a good mix of runners, fast, slow, everything in between, so that everyone can be a part of it, and that it is geographically based: you meet your neighbors, it’s easy to hang-out with everyone, and you see them on the street.

What does your weekly schedule of runs look like?

We meet for runs everyday (well, we do do plyometrics on Friday mornings). Most of them are regular 5-7 miles at whatever pace, but we do tempo on Monday nights, Track on Tuesday (and Track ’n’ Pool during the summer months) and long runs on Saturdays. Tuesday and Thursday night we also have a beginners group.

This year you hold your 6th annual, Superfund Super Run, on Septeber 7th.  Tell us a little about where your idea for this race came from, what makes it so special.  

The Superfund Super Run was an idea I had for a few years before we actually did it, and then one day Graham says, let’s actually do it. Each year we try to make it better, through a new timing system, new prizes, etc., but try to keep the spirit the same, that of a small race where you’ll spend more time in the after-party than you do actually running. I think there are a few things that make it fun: 1) running at night (you always feel faster racing at night) 2) having to find your own way 3) the after-party and 4) it’s kinda silly. We split the field into equal parts so the age divisions are odd (like the March 1981-June 1987 division) but that means people who may not normally get prizes do. And there are a lot of prizes! We love getting the local businesses involved and it means that a third of the field can walk away with something. Who doesn’t love winning something?
 photo by George Grullon

photo by George Grullon

We would consider this race, one of the first unsanctioned, urban races in the city.  I know you HATE that word, but tell us how you think these kinds of races have evolved, and how you have kept your race interesting, bare bones, and true to the neighborhoods your running through.

OK, my issue with the whole “unsanctioned” thing: Who is ‘sanctioning’ everything else? New York is weird because we have this one main, huge race organization that for many years had a monopoly on racing in NYC, but everywhere else you go, races and clubs and are small time, local affairs. SFSR reminds be a lot more of the 2M race I do the 4th of July in a small town of 2,000 people in Wisconsin: a couple of people do the planning around their other life commitments and everyone has a good time. It’s not new and/or rocket science, we just are not used to it in NYC racing anymore. The realities of New York make it prohibitively expensive to close down streets at our level so we make do. Second, a lot of guerrilla marketing is done through these ‘unsanctioned’ or ‘urban running crews.’ It’s fine if you are being paid/supported/created by some athletic clothing company, but be honest. Don’t pretend you’re this great spontaneous ‘movement’ or uprising of cool urban trendsetters breaking the squares out of their boring old-time running. You are a small part of a large corporation’s marketing plan. (and PS, you didn’t invent running and then drinking: the Hashers were the first running club!) BUT I think the races came from people realizing, I can do that. DIY racing. Again we have a warped perspective of the inventiveness of that thinking, but it is a leap of faith. Not being able to follow the rules is freeing. No one wants to wake up at 4:30 am to run the Brooklyn Half, but we do because that’s when the city lets NYRR hold its event. Night races are more fun! It’s fun going to work and then doing something different afterwards. Having the race finish at a bar is more fun, but can’t be done with a race of 10,000 runners. Running fast over a bridge, dodging regular people, dreaming of the downhill is fun! So when we plan it, we can do the things we want because we don’t have to worry about permits and paperwork. The exciting part is that more and more people realize they can do it and are doing it. I do worry about big companies getting into the scene because then it would lose its local control and frankly its danger. Run safe, of course, but the risk/reward of shortcuts and aggressive moves would be lost if legal teams were involved. For us, the local aspect of it is important. We are a neighborhood-based club so we want to do right by where we live. If we can advertise a local company, let’s! If we can highlight a great local organization, we should! New Yorkers love their tiny corners of our city, and it is no shame to brag about what makes Brooklyn, and South Brooklyn the best.

This year SBRC held its first relay race called the Warriors Relay.  Tell us about it!

The Warriors run is another idea that we’ve had for years that has reached various states of devolpement until Ben Miller said ‘we’re doing this” this year. At SBRC we don’t have a real power structure (or good or bad), so members feel empowered (I hope) to take charge of ideas they want and I’ll send out the emails. So Ben made it happen. He planned it all, and we helped when we could. The course is largely determined by the movie, there are still a lot of choices to be made and Ben (and Lauren) made good ones. We started up in Van Cortlandt and the teams of 8 made their way down to Coney Island, finishing at Coney Island Brewery. Each of the relay points was a filing location from the movie and the teams had to take pictures to record their progress. He also got Sunnto to lend us GPS watches to track everything as well. Some teams really went above and beyond in the costume department (because how couldn’t you with this movie?) and the “Best Costume” award was a tough decision. For next years race we are going to have t throw in some new twists because part of the fun is that you don’t have a lot of time to plot everything out beforehand and if we did the same thing year after year it would lose that freshness.

What makes SBRC so special?  How do you keep the club both serious about training, and fun at the same time?

SBRC is special because we try to be good people. We welcome everyone and our fastest guys will run with the slowest. Our goal is for no one to run alone, because isn’t that why you came out with us? Having that mix of people keeps it serious and fun. The hard workers drag us slackers out to the track, and the slackers drag the hard workers to the bar/donut shop. And again being a neighborhood team makes socializing and running easier.
 Photo by Pete Thompson

Photo by Pete Thompson

Favorite workout?

Monday night tempo runs. We run through BBP and over and back on the Manhattan Bridge. Those guys make me work harder than I would on my own and make it fun at the same time.

Favorite route to run?

Brooklyn Bridge Park. It’s a jewel

Favorite post workout drink?

Coffee: Smith Canteen
Beer: Gowanus Yacht Club

Favorite place to grab a bite or chill after a workout?

61 Local’s breakfast has been living in my head for a while now

What makes the Manhattan Bridge so special???

You mean besides being a  National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark for being the first bridge built using deflection theory and it’s charming architectural references to the Brooklyn Bridge?