Brooklyn Marathon a runner’s high for borough’s joggers

Making strides: Brooklynite Ben Lesse was the winner of the second annual Brooklyn Marathon. He completed the 26.2-mile course around Prospect Park in two hours and 37 minutes.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Who needs the ING New York City Marathon when you can run 26.2 miles without leaving the borough?

Nearly 500 distance runners pounded the pavement on Prospect Park’s curvy loop — and it’s notorious hill — on Nov. 18 for the second annual Brooklyn Marathon.

And this year’s winners made the borough proud.

Brooklynite Ben Leese — a member of the North Brooklyn Runners club — was the first one to cross the finish line, finishing six full loops around the park and three smaller ones in a course record of two hours and 37 minutes

Crown Heights runner Samantha Bower was thrilled to set a new women’s record with a time of three hours and four minutes.

“It’s an indescribable feeling. I’m still riding on cloud nine,” said Bower, after completing her third-ever marathon. “Brooklyn is such a unique borough and it’s really neat to take part in something that’s so community based. There was so much support in and around the park.”

Brooklyn Marathon organizers tried to increase the number of runners from 500 to 1,500 after Hurricane Sandy led to the cancellation of this year’s ING New York City Marathon.

But Prospect Park officials nixed their request, saying they couldn’t make space for the added runners with the park’s roadway serving as a staging area for emergency service equipment following the storm.

Still, members of the Asics-set say it was a race to remember.

“It was spectacular,” said Brooklyn marathon organizer Steve Lastoe of NYCRuns. “We had a very enthusiastic crowd and everybody had a good time. It was a true community event in every sense of the word.”

And marathon planners even changed things up a bit this year and dished out a luscious piece of cheesecake from Cousin John’s Bakery to all finishers.

“That was a special touch,” said Bower. “It was so good.”

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