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Recap: Damon Runyon Yankee Stadium 5K

Me on the Yankee Stadium Jumbotron

This past Sunday, I decided to participate in my second 5K.  The first was a run through the Bronx Zoo to raise money for Tigers, both at the zoo and in the wild, and the second run was through Yankee Stadium to support the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation.  While I knew how unconventional the course would be, I had no clue what it really would be like.

Unlike the Bronx Zoo, Yankee Stadium does not have any paths through which people could run.  To deal with this, the organizers separated everyone into 14 different heats that would start 15 minutes apart. We were asked how fast we ran a mile when we applied so they could put us into an appropriate heat.  Since my friends and I registered together as team GFY again, they pushed us to a later heat due to the slower members of our team.  Personally, I applied saying I coud run an 8 minute mile, but with my continuing training, I was actually down to 7 by race day.

According to an email sent by the race organizers prior to the race, the course was as follows:

• START LINE on the 100 level concourse, near Section 120
• Run/walk two laps around the 100 level concourse
• After second lap, near Section 126, turn left at concessions, then take ramp to sub-zero level
• Run/walk through the sub-zero level
• Exit the sub-zero level between the Bullpen and Monument Park, turn right onto warning track
o Water stop located at entrance to/exit from warning track
• Run/walk two laps around the warning track that circles the field
• Exit warning track to the right, return to sub-zero level
• Run/walk back through sub-zero level, then turn left toward right field stairs
• Climb 103 steps to 200 level concourse
• Run/walk the length of the 200 level concourse toward left field stairs (near Section 234)
o Water stop located near Premio stand at Section 217
• Climb 64 steps to 300 level concourse
• Run/walk the length of the 300 level concourse
o Water stop located near Sections 330-331
• At Section 310, turn right down ramp near Gate 6, then take ramp down to the Great Hall
• Run/walk short distance through Great Hall (please stay to your right, course continues to Mile 2)
• Turn right up the Great Hall stairs to 200 level concourse
• Climb 55 steps to 200 level concourse
• Run/walk the length of the 200 level concourse toward left field stairs (near Section 234)
o Water stop located near Premio stand at Section 217
• Climb 64 steps to 300 level concourse
• Run/walk the length of the 300 level concourse
o Water stop located near Sections 330-331
• At Section 310, turn right down ramp near Gate 6, then take ramp down to the Great Hall
• Run/walk short distance through to FINISH LINE in Great Hall (please stay to your left to finish)

From the listing above it doesn’t seem so bad, but I hit a few snags with my run.  When the air horn went off, I darted out and dodged through the crowd and got ahead of most of the people in my heat within the first half mile.  It was soon me and a kid running around the bowels of Yankee Stadium until we turned a corner and the field opened up before us.  The first time around the warning track, the two of us had the warning track to ourselves.  The camera focused on us most of our time around the field and all the camera people were taking pictures of us with no one else to photograph.  As we finished the first lap around, some of the slower people joined us, which made the second time around the warning track a little less pleasurable having to dodge and weave through them.

The other major obstacle came soon afterwards: stairs.  Most of us who had trained to run the 5K did not train with stairs, since most races don’t have them.  I tried running the first staircase, but quickly learned that would be a bad idea with the number of staircases I would be navigating in the second half of the run.  Even after talking to people after the race, most of us agreed that the stairs were quite a hurdle that were tough to deal with.

According to my Nike+, I ran 3.72 miles in 27:49 with a pace of 7:29 per mile.  The official time from the D-Tag on my sneaker that was tracked by the race organizers was 29:39.90 with an average mile of 8:55.  Not my best time, but considering the stairs, ramps and people I think I did well.  Knowing how unusual the course was, my goal was under 30 minutes, even though my best time on a 5K is 22:19 and my best mile is 6:42.

I consider this another successful race under my belt, and I am looking forward to my next race.  At lunch afterwards with Team GFY, we were already plotting our next race and I’m looking forward to running again.

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