Today, more than 3,400 runners packed the streets of Harlem for the Percy Sutton Harlem 5K Run. The race, along with the 1.7-mile Anti-Gun Violence Walk for Peace, marks the grand finale of Harlem Week, which recognizes the historic neighborhood and is one of the largest annual cultural celebrations in the northeast.
Fittingly, the race was won by individuals with diverse backgrounds. Matt Bayley, 24, of Australia, was first across the finish line in a speedy 14:56 -- a 4:48 per mile average pace. Equally impressive was the effort of the top female finisher, Patricia Barry. The 24-year-old Irish native who runs for Henwood's Hounds set a new course record with her winning time of 16:41.
Though he won the 5K race before many of the Anti-Gun Violence Walk participants had even arrived, the theme of the day was still on Bayley's mind at the finish line a he recalled his fellow Aussie countryman, Christopher Lane, who was senselessly gunned down while out for a jog in Duncan, Oklahoma just last week.
"It's fitting [to win today] after that," said the former Iona Gael. "It's so sad, but hopefully these kinds of events influence people to do the right thing."
Locals showed their pride as well, of course, for a community that has become iconic around the world for its culture and unique spirit. Stacy Lynch wore an "I Love Harlem" shirt and completed an emotional 3.1-mile run around her neighborhood to honor her father, former Deputy Mayor for Intergovernmental Relations and a prominent aide and advisor to Mayor David Dinkins, Bill Lynch, Jr., who died just two weeks ago of complications related to kidney disease.
Lynch grew up in Harlem and has lived there her whole life, so she chose the 5K to be her first race when she started running this year.
"I had been training for months before my father unexpectedly passed. He saw me train and I knew he would want me to continue and run this race," she said after finishing. "I'm in tears, it's awesome."