Runners take the heat in 5th-annual Bay Ridge Half Marathon

Runners take the heat in 5th-annual Bay Ridge Half Marathon
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

More than 300 runners toed the start line at the 5th-annual Bay Ridge Half Marathon on Oct.7. The race course, which started and ended at the American Veterans Memorial Pier at 69th Street and looped along the Shore Road Promenade twice, was a scenic one, which eased the pain of the 13.1 miles of pavement pounding, according to the race’s overall winner.

“It was so beautiful, you could see the Manhattan skyline in the distance,” said Manhattanite Michael Thompson, who clocked in at a winning 1 hour, 20 minutes, and 26 seconds. “It was next to the river, which is sort of inspiring in itself. And there’s something about seeing the same scenery twice that makes it easier to pace yourself.”

The race was organized by Trimara Sports, a Brooklyn-based company that specializes in directing small. local road races and promoting the social aspect of the sport. The company’s co-founder said that Saturday’s race went well, despite the hot weather that made the running harder.

“It was great it was a beautiful day,” said Tim Clarke, who founded Trimara with Michael Kasper. “But it was warm, so it got a little hot for the runners.”

Thompson agreed about the unseasonably warm weather.

“It was a gorgeous day, but it was almost too hot to run that race,” he said.

To combat the heat, Clarke said the Trimara team set up hydration stations at about every mile and a half of the race, offering water and Gatorade. And the enthusiastic spectators also helped runners rev their engines, according to Kasper.

“There were lots of spectators there as well — friends and families and loved ones — to cheer on their racers,” Kasper said.

And at the finish line, bagels, chips, and cookies awaited the runners — “everything people need to refuel after a race,” Clarke said. Later, runners descended upon the Brooklyn Firefly for a post-race awards ceremony.

But during the run, the two frontrunners were engaged in a tight race to the finish, according to Thompson, even though the second-place finisher, Etan Levavi, was at one point so far out in front that he was a full loop ahead of Thompson. But Thompson said he was able to ultimately clinch the win by summoning power — and speed — from within.

“As I did the second loop, something came over me — maybe it was positive thinking — and I just bombed it for the last leg of the race,” Thompson said. “As I got closer, I couldn’t believe that I was catching up with [Levavi].”

Thompson got a plaque — and bragging rights — for his successful effort, but said that he is much less concerned with accolades or even his time than with making sure that his love for running remains.

“Running is my passion, but also where I connect spiritually — it’s almost a sort of meditation,” he said. “It’s not about the placing, it’s about whether you enjoy it.”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.