The popularity of ultradistance racing—going beyond the marathon’s 26.2 miles—has exploded in recent years, with winners of events like the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run and the Badwater 135 achieving rock star status. But right here in Central Park, the NYRR NYC 60K, has a decades-long tradition of challenging runners to go beyond the marathon’s limits.
This year’s race, on November 17, saw more than 350 runners complete the 37.2-mile distance—a 5.2-mile loop over the park’s rolling hills, followed by eight 4-mile loops. The men’s winner was Abel Amarilla Pereira of West Side Runners in 4:24:36, with Alex Lorton of Urban Athletics second in 4:26:17. For the women, Emeline Lagache of France broke the tape in 4:50:48, with runner-up Julie Kheyfets of NYC just seven seconds back in 4:50:55.
For Kwok-Ming Cheng of NYC and Edgar Barbosa of Chicago (formerly of Queens), the NYRR NYC 60K is an opportunity to reunite with friends and spend the day happily doing a long run together. “There is no stress in this race,” said Barbosa. “That may sound crazy, and it’s true that running 37 miles has challenges, but it’s my favorite race. I look forward to it so much because it’s just cozy, the runners and volunteers are all super nice, and everyone just goes their own pace.”
Cheng, who ran the TCS New York City Marathon on November 4, finds the NYRR NYC 60K a very different experience, and no less awesome. “I don’t do the marathon every year, but I’ve done this race every year and I plan to keep doing it,” he said. “There’s such a warm and friendly vibe, everyone smiles and cheers the whole way. And there’s GREAT food.”
That’s right—this race serves up more than gels and Gatorade (though there’s plenty of those sources of fueling and hydration): on offer every 4 miles are sweet and salty snacks, energy bars, flat cola, warm broth, and baked potatoes. In addition, runners can set up their own self-service nutrition and hydration stations, or have their fans hand off nourishment along the way.
“It’s essential to eat and drink during ultras,” explained Barbosa, “not only for fluids and calories, but for sodium, which is lost through sweat, and to stay warm and avoid shivering.” He alternated laps of drinking flat cola (fluid, sugar, caffeine) and sipping bone broth (warmth, sodium, more fluid).
A race this long requires extra staff and volunteer support, and NYRR’s events team and volunteer corps go above and beyond to provide personalized cheering and announcements of runners’ progress and to ensure everyone stays on their feet. “I loved volunteering today because the runners really appreciate it,” said Michelle Sontag as she marshaled on West Drive. “This is my +1 for next year’s marathon—a marathon is long enough for me!”
Friends and family played a large role as well. Angel Velez of NYC was ecstatic to complete his first ultra (he’s done half marathons and triathlons), cheered on by his multisport friends Tisha Rivera and Victor Lira. “I did this to get bragging rights—I didn’t know it’d be this fun!” Velez said. “I paced myself and took walking breaks. What a day!”
Michael Capiraso, NYRR’s president and CEO, finished and then joined staff and volunteers to cheer the final finishers as darkness fell and everyone celebrated a job well done.
2 marathons and a 60k in the last 42 days🏃🏻♀️. Now I rest til January😴 . . . 📸 @barbarahannahgrufferman #marathon #marathontraining #marathoner #ultramarathon #ultramarathoner #ultrarunner #runnersofinstagram #nyrr @nyrr @nycmarathon @chimarathon #nyc60k #centralpark #newyorkcity #newyork #getouttorun #run
. Amazing Day for 60K! 👍 Celebrating #NYRR60Years running the #NYC60K 🏃 . Thanks to our great #NYRR running community for coming out to support those that ran strong for 9 loops of @CentralParkNYC! . Grateful for our amazing #TeamNYRR & #NYRRVols . #InspiredByYou #NYC60K #37.2Miles #UltraMarathon #NYRR60Years #RunForLife #BornToRun #PR . BIG thanks to running partner @eganalexander 👏 and all that ran some miles along the way! . Excited for tomorrow’s 👉 #RaceToDeliver