Race Report: Ted Corbitt 15K


This was toward the end of the race, since I'd been trying to pass that woman in blue for eight miles. Note the efficient heel strike.

It seems fitting that for the inaugural race to honor Ted Corbitt — known as the father of American ultrarunning, among numerous other distinctions — we would have truly treacherous and trying conditions. A race of 9.3 miles is hardly an “ultra.” But today’s race felt a lot longer than it actually was.

Despite yesterday’s surprise storm — which dumped six inches of snow on NYC, followed by sleet and a plunge in temperatures — a few hundred hardy souls convened on Central Park’s 102nd St transverse this morning to honor Ted. The race was declared a “fun run” to discourage people from going nuts and turning it into a speed skating event. Our timing chips were collected and we were on our own to judge our performances against the clock, the conditions and our peers.

I’d been looking forward to this race for weeks, since it was slated to be a true HTFU* effort. Just how HTFU it would be wasn’t clear to me until I actually headed into the city this morning and saw the conditions we’d be running in: Temps in the 20s with wind chills  between 7 and 18; a steady 8-10mph wind from the north; an outer loop coated in a thin layer of semi-frozen slush; transverses consisting of hard-packed snow. I’d say about 15% of the course was totally clear of snow or slush — I can see exactly where those sections were when I look at my GPS route map vs. the speeds I was running at various points.

Not only was I scheduled to run a 15K race, but I also needed to sandwich it in-between 9 miles to make an 18 mile long run. I ended up with a total run of 16.8 miles. The trains and subways were delayed, so I had to cut my pre-race run from 4.5 to 3.5 miles. Then I ran the race. Then — and this was the last thing I wanted to do — I set out to run the third leg. That ended up being 4 miles since the wind chill plunged 10 degrees in the final 15 minutes, my feet were soaked, and I was on the verge of hypothermia.

I do this for fun, remember?

Race time (unofficial): 1:09:10. I’m very pleased with that time considering the crap I ran through, on a course that’s normally pretty difficult anyway. Average pace was 7:24, but I managed a 6:55 for mile 7 (nice downhill) and a 7:07 for mile 9 (flat).

There were so few of us running that the volunteers recognized me as I did multiple loops. Three cute guys, all bundled up and huddled together, saw me approaching prior to the start, with a race number. At first they were confused, thinking the race had started and I was in the lead. Then they figured out that I was just warming up and instead yelled, “You can do it!” For some reason, we all thought that was hilarious. A few others noted that they’d seen me three times rather than two (since I passed by them on my third, extra leg of 4 miles), with one cajoling me, “You can stop running now!”. I thanked a lot of volunteers today.

Despite the conditions (and the considerable effort it took to get there and back on foot from Westchester), I’m glad I did this run today. Central Park was stunning, with a fresh, white coating of snow over everything. People all around us were sledding, cross country skiing and throwing snowballs. A winter wonderland oasis in a city where snow otherwise presents little more than a filthy burden.

After struggling to get out of my wet shoes and socks in a portapotty and endeavoring to get the feeling back in my fingers, I didn’t have the energy to trek the quarter mile to get a half frozen bagel from the boxes on the 102nd St transverse. Unfortunately, the one piece of food I brought with me, a PowerBar, had the appeal (and consistency) of a slate roof shingle; frozen solid! So I found a great little diner on 103rd right across from the subway stop, Jimmy’s, where I got a toasted bagel and hot chocolate.

*Harden The Fuck Up.

8 Responses

  1. A good job in the winter cold en snow !.
    You dit it and congrats…
    The time is oké.
    Is there no pics(snow) of the run?.
    Groet Rinus.

  2. OK, see, here – right here – is the difference between you and me.

    Well, no, actually we’re waaaaaay far across the dividing line by the time you get to running 17 miles in sub-freezing temps.

    I both admire you enormously and wonder about your sanity. But either way, it sounds like you had fun and feel great about it. So, good job!

  3. Wow, just dealing with the trek to the city on a day so weather-full deserves big points right there. What an adventure! You got a great time considering the slip and fall potential. Plus who doesn’t love a little flirtyness on a Saturday morning, those guys sound real cute. 😉

  4. I thought about this video a lot today.

  5. Lynn Jennings was some runner. I wonder what she’s up to these days? You didn’t have the advantage of spikes!

    I’m in agreement with Rinus – your time was okey dokey 😉 Better than that really.

    I thought you were already a HTFU’d runner. I haven’t spotted anything less than that thus far.

  6. I’m not a stalker, but I am a huge admirer of Lynn Jennings. I’ll even put forth the opinion that she’s one of the best runners this country has ever produced in terms of the range of her achievements.

    I’ve read recent articles that indicate she’s living in Oregon, coaching a women’s triathlon team and has gotten very into competitive rowing. I think she still runs every day too, although no longer competitively.

    She was at a marathon expo I attended a couple of years ago, but I’m ashamed to say that at the time I had no idea who she was. That was a real missed opportunity to meet a living legend.

  7. Yes, all those World CC titles and the bronze medal. I wonder who would have won out of her and Shalane Flanagan over 10,000?

    She’s 48 – it’d be great to see her make a comeback at 50 and race Joan Benoit on the roads, or go for some 50+ records. I think she’s wasted coaching triathletes! She should be coaching young girls (and boys) in running. What an inspirational coach she’d be.

    There don’t seem to be many national class runners who keep on racing seriously once they retire from open competition. I often wonder about that. We have only one that springs to mind – Steve Moneghetti – who still runs 30:XX for 10,000 at 46.

  8. […] since had one other sandwich run: a planned 18 miler with 4.5 each on either side of the Ted Corbitt 15K in Central Park. It was very wet and cold that day, so I cut the two “bread” runs short […]

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