It was another beautiful morning for cross country running at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, the storied site of countless races over the decades. From the Flats to the trails of the back hills, hundreds of runners of all ages and abilities were up to the challenges at the Kurt Steiner Cross Country Classic 5K.
The third of five NYRR cross country races taking place this fall, the race is named in honor of one of the founders of New York Road Runners, Kurt Steiner (1921−1993), who was also a competitive runner and race walker. He served for decades as an announcer at NYRR races, including the New York City Marathon. Van Cortlandt Park <http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/X092/> is one of the country’s best-known cross country venues. It’s been the site of regional and national championship races as well as countless local events.
The race started and finished on the Flats, steps away from the park’s well-known statue of the tortoise and the hare. From the north end of the park, runners headed south and around the bottom of the Flats and then into the woods via the Cow Path. A series of rolling hills led runners to a bridge that crosses over the Henry Hudson Parkway and into the Back Hills loop. After a mile of up-and-down running in the Back Hills, runners were brought back to the bridge, and from there proceeded back down to the Flats and the finish.
After 3.1 miles of running, the Westchester Track Club’s Harbert Okuti broke the tape in 15:42. Behind him, a string of five Central Park Track Club New Balance (CPTC) runners followed, led by Jonathan Wetzel in 16:20. Twin brothers Joseph and Paul Gilhuley finished together in 16:22 for third and fourth.
On the women’s side, the winner, Hannah Rose of CPTC, finished in 19:32, 22 seconds in front of the runner-up, Lilia Britez from the West Side Runners. Sophie Ewald, a member of the Henwood Hounds Racing Team, outsprinted CPTC’s Anne-Laure White for third, with both recording a time of 20:08.
Local clubs including CPTC, Van Cortlandt Track Club, Dashing Whippets Running Team, Front Runners New York, and others came out in their team colors in significant numbers.
Next on the NYRR cross country calendar is the Fred Lebow Cross Country Classic, another 5K at Van Cortlandt Park, coming up on Sunday, November 17.