It was 55 degrees and slightly overcast at the start of the 11th annual More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women’s Half Marathon, and as it turns out, that’s perfect tutu weather.
As more than 8,600 women lined up in Central Park, pink tutus were the unofficial uniform, though plenty of competitors opted for green, yellow, and even rainbow-colored ones.
Race winner Deena Kastor went with a more conventional shorts-and-tank-top look, and given that the 41-year-old distance superstar won in dramatic fashion, crossing the finish line in 1:11:38 and breaking not only the course record she set last year (by nearly two minutes) but the American masters (age 40+) record by 12 seconds as well (see story), that was probably the right call.
Kastor ran uncontested for much of the race—runner-up Tsehay Getiso finished in 1:15:07, followed by Aregash Gubae at 1:18:35—and while the 2004 Olympic marathon bronze medalist was clearly in a league of her own, the event was about solidarity. It’s the largest all-women’s half-marathon in the country, and the field included ladies of all ages, nationalities, ethnicities, and abilities.
Among those that got the tutu memo were twin sisters Meredith and Lucie Miller, 26-year-old New York City residents who completed their tour of the park in 1:38.02. Both cited the all-female field as the reason the race is so special.
“The demographic is very different than a lot of road races we’ve been on—[and] a lot of husbands and boyfriends cheer people on,” Lucie said. “It gets older women out and active, which you don’t always see. It’s a good way to kick off the spring.”
One of those husbands lending support from the sidelines was Gary Sirbu, whose wife, Ellen, was competing in her third More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women’s Half Marathon. The couple hails from Oakland, CA, and the race is a chance to visit with family and take part in an event that Gary sees as truly unique.
“Central Park is a destination,” he said, “and then there’s all of the other things about New York that are great.”
He won’t get any argument from Laura Patrikianen. She ran a presonal-best time of 1:47:17 just one day after flying to New York City from her native Finland to start a three-and-a-half-week vacation. She’d hoped to make her Big Apple debut at the New York City Marathon back in November, as it fell on her 35th birthday, but she failed to gain entry through the lottery.
“This is kind of a compensation for not running the marathon,” she said. “At least I get to run something in New York. This was totally fabulous. I loved it.”
Patrikianen, who traveled to the race with her boyfriend, said she’ll spend the next few days shopping, doing yoga, visiting friends, and, of course, running. And that probably won’t even be the highlight of the couple's Stateside trip.
“Then we go to Hawaii,” she said. “So it’s just going to get better.”