Runners who can’t wait for football season to begin can get a jump on the action at the inaugural NFL Back to Football Run on Thursday, with New York Giants stars Mathias Kiwanuka and Jason Pierre-Paul on the sidelines—for a change—wishing them good luck before the race.
Entrants might even find themselves running alongside Amani Toomer, the retired Giants wide receiver who is planning to lace ‘em up for the first-year New York Road Runners event.
The four-mile run in Central Park serves as the official start of 2012 Kickoff Week in New York. On race day, registrants can enter a raffle for the chance to win two tickets to the 2012 NFL Kickoff Game on Wednesday night, September 5, with the defending Super Bowl champion Giants hosting the rival Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium, or a football signed by Eli Manning, Tony Gonzalez, or Andrew Luck.
The main race will begin at 7:30 p.m., with the NFL Play 60 Fun Run starting at 6:00 p.m. The fun run is part of the NFL’s national health and fitness campaign to tackle childhood obesity by encouraging kids to get up and active for at least 60 minutes a day.
Registration is still open for both the main race and the fun run, with information available here. On race day, Mathias will meet with fans from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Pierre-Paul from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
“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