Nearly 6,000 runners circled Central Park this morning for Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s Fred’s Team Presents Grete’s Great Gallop, as a cool morning gave way to a cloudless autumn day. In addition to a half-marathon, the event featured a 1.7-mile unscored run and children’s races. The event paid tribute to Grete Waitz, nine-time New York City Marathon champion, as well as to New York City Marathon co-founder Fred Lebow.
Both legendary figures lost their lives to cancer, but their legacies live on through Waitz’s AKTIV Mot Kreft (Active against Cancer) foundation and through Fred’s Team at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The two organizations continue to work toward a cure for cancer and toward improving patients’ lives.
The 13.1-mile course took runners twice around Central park’s 6-mile loop plus another 1.1 miles The park’s rolling hills offered prospective TCS New York City Marathoners a formidable fitness test four weeks out from race day. Waitz herself once said, “A half-marathon is a good test of your endurance, without the physical punishment of going the full 26.2 miles. It will teach you about patience, pacing, and how to negotiate physical and emotional cycles.”
With individual and team prize money on the line, the West Side Runners took control of the men’s race early and held on to sweep the top five places. Siraw Kebede Gelaw was first in 1:05:40, with Tilahun Manesho Woldemariam and then Teklu Tefere Deneke finishing less than a minute later.
The women’s team race was a closer battle, as the New York Athletic Club (NYAC) edged Central Park Track Club New Balance (CPTC) for the title. Agony o’de Feet’s Tsehay Getiso won the race in 1:17:01, and Marisa Cummings led the NYAC team with a second-place finish in 1:18:40. Kate Pallardy of CPTC took third, seven seconds behind Cummings.
Amidst the following flood of runners, the bright orange jerseys of Fred’s Team stood out as members ran and raised funds to “Imagine a World without Cancer,” as their shirts read. Team members not racing could be seen encouraging all runners up Cat Hill near East 72nd Street, using pom-poms, cowbells, and even a megaphone to show their support.
One team member, Mary Kris, remarked on her experience as a Fred’s Team runner: “It’s been incredible—not just the training, but the people.” Kris ran the 2013 New York City Marathon with Fred’s Team and will be back for another run this coming November 2.
“The marathon was an amazing experience, and I knew I had to do it again this year,” she said. “Putting your hand out for high-fives, especially right in front of the hospital, is unlike anything else.” Kris is quite familiar with Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s work, as her father, Dr. Mark Kris, serves as the hospital’s Chair in Thoracic Oncology. He completed today’s half-marathon as well.
To bring the morning to a close, Fred’s Team coaches led a group stretch at the post-race festival, helping to ensure that runners stayed fit, flexible, and healthy for their next race.