The NYRR Team Championships have provided the ultimate showcase of both competition and camaraderie in Central Park since 1982. Nowhere was that more apparent than in today's women's race.
The competition was fierce at the front of the pack, as West Side Runners teammates Aziza Aliyu, 27, and Tigist Tufa Demisse, 26, battled for the title. Aliyu won by just three seconds in a time of 26:36, and both women bested the previous course record.
Coveted points in NYRR’s yearly team competition were also a motivator for some of NYRR's most competitive athletes, and the talented women of the New York Athletic Club were not about to relinquish their hold on first place in the Open Women’s standings. NYAC won the meet in impressive fashion, as all 10 of their scoring members covered the five-mile course in less than 30 minutes and placed among the top 15 finishers. After Aliyu, Tufa Demisse, and Patricia Barry of Henwood's Hounds, the next seven finishers all wore the white and red of NYAC.
Later, camaraderie of a special kind gave onlookers a reminder of what NYRR's "Run for Life" mission is all about. With the men long finished and having joined their teams' cheering sections—complete with banners and full picnics—a moving scene was played out near the back of the women’s race. A group of New York Flyers turned onto the final stretch, all running with their brave teammate, Laurie Harris, who was racing despite battling serious illness. As a cheer rose, Harris tumbled to the ground. After a few tense moments, she regained her feet, walked three steps, and then began to run again. She crossed the finish line driven by amazing determination, and also by a crowd of her fellow runners who had begun to chant her name.
Ellen Basile of Henwood's Hounds did not witness the scene, but what she said afterward applied accurately nevertheless: "The great thing about running is that everybody cheers for everybody regardless of what team you're on. Everybody wants a great race, and this is a special race for all of us."