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Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff (5M)

Warming Up the Asphalt for the Big Race

It’s official: Just one week to go until the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon.

On a perfectly crisp fall morning, more than 5,500 runners warmed up the asphalt in Central Park today at the annual Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff 5-Mile. Some ran as a final tune-up before the big race next weekend and to get an early taste of crossing the famed finish line near Tavern on the Green, while others just came for the challenge of a brisk five miles on the rolling hills of Central Park.

Michael Herskovitz, who’s gearing up for his ninth consecutive New York City Marathon, said he started running 10 years ago because he needed a goal, something to get him out of bed early in the morning. Twenty-two marathons later, he says the sport has “changed his life.” Having set a PR of 4:36 in last year’s marathon, he’s gunning for 4:30 next Sunday. With a sub-10:00 pace in today’s race, at age 54, his goal is well within reach.

Other runners, like Michelle Savacool, 27, are newer to New York City running, but just as enthusiastic. Savacool began running in April 2013 and completed her first New York City Marathon last year for charity; this year she qualified through NYRR’s 9+1 program. After finishing today’s race in 43 minutes, she said she was spurred on by the ideal conditions and the motivation of the crowd. “I ran each mile faster than the last,” she said just past the finish line, her flushed cheeks the same color as the apple she was enjoying.

Austin Taylor, 26, won today’s race in a swift 27:02—a 5:25 pace—followed closely by Jeff Poindexter, 25, of Urban Athletics (second, 27:09) and 1992 USA Olympian John Trautman, age 46, of the New Jersey–New York Track Club (third, 27:33). Not long afterward, Jennifer Busse, 30, of Central Park Track Club New Balance, won the women’s race in 30:56. She was followed by Hope Sanders, 41 (second, 31:16), and Kerin Hempel, 35 (third, 31:39).

For Busse, the win was as unexpected as it was gratifying. The nurse practitioner hasn’t won an NYRR race since the 2008 NYRR Bronx Half-Marathon, “back when there was such a race,” she said. (It’s now a 10-miler.) And, although Busse won’t be racing the marathon next Sunday, she will be cheering on her teammates and friends who are.

In the meantime, let’s just hope for conditions as ideal as today’s.

Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff (5M)
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