Thursday, May 17, 2012

An Incomplete History of the Brooklyn Half

This Saturday is the much anticipated (don't ask me why) Brooklyn Half-Marathon. New York Road Runners has been doing this race since 1981 and even though it's changed in many ways over the past 30+ years, this year includes what are likely the most sweeping changes in the event's history. What follows is not so much a complete history as it is a collection of random facts about the evolution of the race. Enjoy!

The 2006 start on the boardwalk from
In 1981 the inaugural race, which ran along Ocean Parkway, had about 1800 finishers. Back then the race was held in March, a tradition that lasted for more than 20 years. This meant that some years the runners had to deal with snow and ice instead of the heat that is sometimes a problem these days.

In the early days the Brooklyn Half was particularly competitive, attracting world-class runners like Dick Beardsley in 1983 (though he was forced to drop out at the 9 mile mark due to an Achilles injury). 

In 1996, after a showdown between the Mayor's office and then-Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden, the race returned to city streets for the first time in 5 years. The almost 2,250 finishers began on Coney Island, ran up Ocean Parkway, and ended the race in Prospect Park.

In 2002 the registration cost for members was $14, $20 for non-members.

In 2004 the race was moved from March to April and it included an out and back on the Boardwalk before heading up Ocean Parkway. Since 2008 the race has been held in May with it falling as late as Memorial Day weekend in 2009.

In 2009 the direction of the race was switched, with the start on Prospect Park's Center Drive and the finish on the Coney Island Boardwalk near the Parachute Jump.

Will any of this information help you run a better race this weekend? Probably not, but it may help you appreciate the race as a living breathing thing. Good luck to all of you running!

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