The Pete McArdle Cross Country Classic is not a race for wimps. The event, named for one of NYRR’s early members, an outstanding cross country runner and coach, consists of three trips around a hilly 3.1-mile course at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.
This year’s McArdle had the added challenge of unseasonably cold weather. A brave and hearty 335 runners finished, led by Ricky Reusser, 29, in a speedy 51:47 and Leigh Gerson, 29, in an impressive 1:00:46. It was a beautiful morning for cross country running at this fabled venue.
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 challenging ascents and exhilarating descents in the Back Hills, runners were brought back to the bridge, from which they returned to the Flats…and covered the same route again another two times! On a day when “real feel” temps were in the single digits, that was an extraordinary feat. All the runners definitely earned their Thanksgiving meal!
This race concluded the 2013 NYRR cross country season at Van Cortlandt Park, which is one of the nation’s best-known cross country venues. It’s been the site of regional, national, and world-championship races as well as countless local events.