NYCRuns brings first in-person race of the Covid era to Prospect Park

prospect park race
Runners crossed the finish line after at the first in-person race in New York City since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hundreds of runners crossed the finish line in Prospect Park on Aug. 28 for the first official in-person running race held in New York City since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The contest, organized by NYCRuns, went off with a litany of virus precautions in place, such as staggered start times that saw 50 runners take off at a time between 7 and 9:30 am, a mask requirement while running, a medical screening, and the barring of spectators from the race’s course — all of which runners were willing to put up with for the chance to race in public again, organizers said.

“Everybody was super positive,” said NYCRuns founder Steve Lastoe. “It was a lot of fun actually.”

The race emphasized density reduction, athlete communication, self-reliance, and hygiene — using the acronym DASH, which runners embraced, according to Lastoe.

“People took it to heart, they listened,” he said. 

Runners spaced out while they waited to begin the race at Bartel Pritchard Square.NYCRuns

Organizers of the 3.3-mile race dubbed it the “lousy t-shirt” race to emphasize the bare-bones workings of the event — all runners got was a race and a t-shirt. 

While spectators were banned, park goers in Brooklyn’s backyard who stumbled across the race offered encouragement to runners, and organizers said the event felt like an important chapter in New York’s recovery from the pandemic.

“People in the park were happy that something was going on,” said Lastoe. “I think New York’s a bit hungry for things to take a couple steps forward at this point.” 

Lastoe says the group hopes to host the Prospect Park Marathon on the greenspace’s loop in October, pending the go-ahead from park stewards.