“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.
All those runners, plus their friends and families, were welcomed with open arms at Coney Island, where participants completed their 13.1-mile journey and everyone celebrated on the boardwalk and off. Many of them visited local businesses offering deals and discounts through NYRR's Run the City program.
Perhaps the most delighted of those finishers were Brooklyn-based runners, who were proud to welcome the world to their borough. “I never thought I’d see a half-marathon with more than 20,000 people and a two-wave start right here in Brooklyn,” said Anna McCusker, a member of North Brooklyn Runners. With their signature black-on-white block-lettered singlets and a diverse, growing membership, NBR personifies the Brooklyn spirit—fun, hip, and passionate about running.
Locals and visitors alike raved about the course, which started in front of the Brooklyn Museum and made its way around Grand Army Plaza, through Prospect Park, down Ocean Parkway, and onto Surf Avenue before finishing on the Coney Island boardwalk. The route is largely flat, which makes it ideal for running personal records.
Today’s cool, overcast weather also contributed to fast running, and it was no surprise to see excellent times notched by the top finishers. Representing race sponsor New Balance, New Zealand Olympian Kim Smith set a women’s event record of 1:11:24, demolishing the old mark, 1:13:15, which had stood since 1986. Hirut Beyene Guangul of West Side Runners (WSX) followed in 1:14:31 and Liz Costello was a close third in 1:14:40. Men’s winner Tesfaye Girma, also of WSX, ran 1:06:03, a time that didn’t threaten the 1:03:18 event record he set here last year. His teammates Ketema Nigusse (1:06:14) and Fikadu Lemma (1:06:22) took second and third, respectively.
Fast, slow, or somewhere in between, finishers had nothing but praise for the race. “I’m back next year for sure,” said Rick Thiounn of the Dashing Whippets Racing Team, who finished in 1:30:42. “Every time I run in Brooklyn, I have a good time.”