“So Proud to Be a Part of It”: NYRR Team Championships Races Bring Out the Best

Many of us are drawn to running because it brings out the best we have within us. That was definitely the case at the 2019 NYRR Team Championships. Since 1987, this event—with separate races for women and men—has brought together the city’s top running squads to compete for bragging rights in a teams-only five-miler.

First across the finish line in the women’s race, held at 7:00 a.m., was Feyne Gudeto Gemeda, representing West Side Runners (WSX). In the men’s contest, which went off at 8:15 a.m., WSX’s Tadesse Yae Dabi crossed the line first in 23:46. Distance Project NYC was the winning team in the women’s open division, the first time they’d taken that honor, while WSX added to their impressive collection of open first-place finishes in the men’s division. Check out complete individual and team results. For the first time this year the race was streamed live on Facebook.


The team spirit buoyed runners throughout the morning. “I run this race for the PPTC cheer tunnel, which is so amazing,” said Mary Johnston of Prospect Park Track Club, referring to the cheering throngs in the final few hundred meters of the race.

Her teammates Jana Trenk and Joelle Reeves agreed that team spirit makes this race special. “Our team is like a family, so it’s nice to be with everyone whether I’m in my best shape like I was last year or just coming back from an injury, like this year—it’s fun and special either way,” said Trenk.

"The team spirit is amazing," added Reeves. "Whether you have a fast time that you’re happy with or a slower time the team just rallies around you and you feel great."


"New York Road Runners' mission is to help and inspire people through running, and our teams live that every day," said Jim Heim, New York Road Runners' senior vice president of event development and production and the race director of the TCS New York City Marathon. "The club running scene in NYC is incredible, and it’s amazing to be part of this community with you."

Ben Green of Front Runners New York and a coach with NYRR Group Training, called the Team Championships "almost like a mini version of the marathon in Central Park, because all the clubs have picnics and banners, it all really gives a community feel and brings us together."

For runners doing Team Championships for the first time, the race can be eye-opening. "There was so much energy, especially toward the end!" said first-time participant Diana Wong of Queens Distance Runners. "We have 80-something members out here, but the cheering wasn't just from them, it was from all the other teams too. The race definitely has a different vibe. I felt like there was a lot of team camaraderie."

For other runners, Team Championships strengthened a connection to the running community. "I ran for team spirit," said Heidy Pabon of Van Cortlandt Track Club, who has been undergoing chemotherapy treatments for cancer. "I didn’t feel good today, but the team and the coaches are very good to me."

Team Championships continues a long tradition of participation for some. Mike Keohane, a Front Runners New York coach who ran today, is a former 2:16 marathoner who at or near the front of the pack in many Team Championships. "At certain points I think to myself that I used to be so much faster, but I'm okay with that," he said. "This race is everything I love about the sport--working together, supporting each other. I just push it as hard as I can. I’m out here and I’m grateful for that."

Amy Bahrt of Millrose Athletic Association ran her first Team Championships in the 1980s. Recently returned to racing after a five-year injury, she feels a special connection to the race. "I get very emotional because it’s so supportive and reminds me of why I love being on a team and competing in a friendly way," she said. Today she struggled in the later miles and ended up accepting a cup of water from a fellow competitor who was also having a rough day. "I was fading and she came over and gave me a drink and we finished together. She was selfless and kind. This race really does bring out the most competitive but also the greatest kindness and camaraderie. I just feel so proud to be a part of it."



Even runners standing on the sidelines today felt the special spirit. Fred Trilli of Central Park Track Club currently has Parkinson's disease along with knee and shoulder injuries. "With all the things that I’m going through right now, coming out here makes me motivate myself to work a little harder," he said. "To see my friends and all the runners on our team and other teams reminds me that I’m part of a really inspiring community."

Inspired to join a team? Check out options on our website. Contact individual teams for more information.



Author: Gordon Bakoulis

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