It was a beautiful morning to be on the Coney Island boardwalk, but for the 14,278 official finishers of Saturday’s NYRR 5-Borough Series: Brooklyn Half-Marathon it took a lot of hard work to get there.
Winning in a close and record-setting finish was Tesfaye Assefa Dube in 1:03:18, followed by Mengsti Tabor Nebsi just two seconds back in 1:03:20. Eric Chirchir was third in 1:04:19. Both Dube and Nebsi broke the previous long-standing event record of 1:03:56, set by Pat Petersen in 1988.
Nick Arciniaga, who finished eighth in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, came in fourth, in 1:05:29, with Jason Hartmann placing fifth in 1:06:21. Hartmann was fourth overall and first American in last month’s Boston Marathon.
“It was tough, for sure,” said Hartmann, 31. “After the Boston Marathon I took a little time off and [today] was definitely a little harder than I expected. But when you come to New York, it’s just great to be a part of the event.” Hartmann ran in a Team for Kids singlet to raise awareness of the NYRR youth charity, and was loudly saluted by the Team for Kids cheering section as he passed.
For the women, Tinbit Weldegebriel, 22, was the winner in 1:15:22, with Hirut Beyene, 20, second in 1:15:27. Both are Ethiopians living in New York City. Third was Anna Weber, 24, of Bloomington, IN, in 1:18:09.
On a revamped course that allowed for the field size to more than double from last year, some 15,000 runners started off at 7:00 a.m. near the Brooklyn Museum, looped through Prospect Park, dashed down Ocean Parkway, and finished on the famous boardwalk of Coney Island.
At the outset, they were led by Arciniaga, who went out aggressively. “I just wanted to try to test myself out there today,” he said. “Then at around two miles the lead group of guys caught back up to me. They were pushing pretty hard and dropped me after four miles or so. After that I was battling just trying to stay in contact.”
The leaders pulled away with about five miles remaining.
Dube, a 28-year-old Ethiopian who lives in the Bronx, was racing in his fifth NYRR event this year. In March, he won the Coogan’s Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K in 14:43, and in April was runner-up in the Scotland Run 10K.
Nebsi, 34, an Ethiopian who lives in New York City, placed 11th in the NYC Half 2012 in a personal best 1:01:31, while Chirchir, a Kenyan who now calls Jackson Heights, NY, home, won the Scotland Run 10K in 29:44.
Two New York City Council members also made their way from Prospect Park to the boardwalk: Brad Lander in 1:58:10, and Dan Garodnick in 2:01:53.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg