Every Take The Bridge race has its own character, a function of the field, the course, and even the weather. Boston’s two loops had a track feel, Triboro mixed in a little cross-country, and Manhattan men were a tactical slog through a down pour.
Last Friday’s Summer Series finale came down to the new course; at 2.6 miles, a brutal, steep out and back on the Williamsburg Bridge. We’ve raced the WB four times in three seasons, each course with its own twist— one way, out and back, starting in Brooklyn or Manhattan. This time, runners raced from the waterfront, sprinting three blocks up South 5th — past volunteers stopping traffic with glowsticks — before hitting the bridge ramp. I raced this course at a November Project workout, and man did it hurt. There’s no doubt the ascent put a sting in runner’s legs.
Matt Smith and Broderick Gann kicked off the night with a powerful, wire-to-wire duel. Each averaged near or under 5 minutes a mile in their first TTB. This is incredible stuff.
Matt had gotten to know the course by winning our Strava segment challenge. Although Broderick kept it close, trading the lead off and on throughout the race, Matt was always there when it counted. He won the prime, and took the lead for good down the stretch, to win by four seconds in 12:56. TTB Triboro winner Greg Laraia of Custom Performance was third in 13:10, capping a series in which he’s placed top three in every race.
We made the decision to run the ladies first in our inaugural TTB in 2015. You know, ladies first. There wasn’t much more to it, and the practice stuck. But this time, we figured why not flip the order? There are some differences. The second race of the night tends to be better spectated, and to have less pedestrian traffic.
Vicky Kornieva of Bellmore Striders lived up to the race’s headline status in every way, The prime videos show her with a massive advantage over a chase pack of four ladies. And she simply got stronger, winning in 15:01, 16 seconds ahead of Dashing Whippets’ Jennie Cohen. A pair followed in their first Take The Bridge — Jennie’s teammate Grace Bowen ran 15:22, and Katie Michno followed three seconds back.
This summer, sponsor Custom Performance endowed a $1,500 team series prizes, where the top three men’s and women’s teams earned $400, $250 or $100. We follow a team scoring system that’s a little high school cross-country, a little track and field. Top three runners per team score, but the points start high — 20 for first place, and so on. Like cross country, every scorer matters. Thus unfolded the drama on our men’s side.
Coming into the race, Front Runners held a slim lead over Custom and Dashing Whippets. All places were in play. Three Front Runners in top 10 left no doubt, and they walked off with a well-deserved win. But Dashing Whippets third man made all the difference; 20th place Peter Goldwasser edged out Custom Performance’s second man, enough to give his team second place by a point. Whippet Ladies had a huge night, to win the series. Coming in, they held a small lead over NP. But that 2-3 put them over the top, and then some. A big night from Team MHRC cemented third, not far behind NP.
What’s next for TTB? One, our first race in Chicago, in just a few weeks. We’re working with our friends Luc and Sara in the running community there. They know the courses, they have the ideas, and they’re helping us ensure the race has its own, local character. We’ll visit Chicago a few times in the coming weeks (better be time for a Cubs game). Registration opens September 22.
After Chicago we’ll reflect on an amazing 2017 that started in February, when we first scouted out Boston. As always, runners, race volunteers, sponsors and photographers drove this series, and we’re grateful to have been along for the ride. See you on the bridge!