“Is Brooklyn in the house?” asked Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James as more than 20,000 runners massed on Eastern Parkway for the start of the Brooklyn Half. The reply was a loud cheer that said it all. The Brooklyn Half isn't new—it’s been run every year since 1981—but with a three-day Brooklyn Half Pre-Party presented by New Balance in ultra-hip Dumbo, a start in two waves, and a record finisher field of 21,378, this year’s race felt like something altogether different!
The Brooklyn Half was not only a stellar event for runners and spectators, it was also the perfect opportunity for local communities in Brooklyn to see what a good crowd can do. The fun began well before the race started, but it was on the Coney Island boardwalk that runners took their final steps and claimed their medals as Brooklyn Half 2013 finishers. Many of them then stuck around, bringing high spirits and a can-do attitude to an area still recovering from Superstorm Sandy.
Patrick Gavin signed up to run the Brooklyn Half with Team for Kids just three weeks before the race because he knew he’d be representing a bigger cause on race day. “Team for Kids is a great way to promote fitness and help the city’s kids work toward goals,” he said after finishing in 1:24:42, a huge PR. “I’ve been looking for a team to train with, and this one is laid back.”
The combination of a significantly expanded field—26,912 entrants, an increase of nearly 10,000 over last year—and the precedent of the Boston Marathon bombings only a month earlier made security enhancements especially necessary at this year’s Brooklyn Half.
It takes a lot to get through a half-marathon, and runners need all the support they can get. And they get much of that support from the race-day volunteers who take care of them every step of the way.
“I feel like I’m on the home team!”
So said a member of the North Brooklyn Runners team to a fellow Brooklyn Half participant as they ran past a wall of cheering fans in Prospect Park. Throughout the race, the onlookers’ voices swelled to a new crescendo when they read the team name on his shirt. “Bring it home, Brooklyn!” “North Brooklyn, represent!” and “Brooklyn in the house!” were a few of the shouts that buoyed local heroes on their way from the Brooklyn Museum, around Grand Army Plaza and Prospect Park, and down Ocean Parkway to the picturesque finish on the Coney Island Boardwalk. There were 21,378 finishers—about 7,000 more than ever before in the race’s 33-year history.
Dumbo, the area along the East River near the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, can be pure poetry on a warm spring evening. As the setting for the three-day Brooklyn Half Pre-Party presented by New Balance, the neighborhood offered the best of Brooklyn: hipster atmosphere, stunning waterfront views, great food and drink, and plenty of entertainment for runners and their friends and families.