About 22,000 runners took to the streets to run in the Brooklyn Half Marathon on Saturday, passing some of the borough’s best-known landmarks in a race that became dangerous as temperatures climbed well past what’s typical for a mid-May race.
The beloved 13.1 mile race was back at full capacity for the first time since 2019, just in time for the event’s 40th running. Each spring, Brooklynites line the sides of the winding route to cheer on their friends and neighbors as they make their way from the Brooklyn Museum to the finish line at Coney Island’s Riegelmann Boardwalk.
“Having the cheer crews there … it really makes a difference having spectators,” said 24-year-old Vivian, who asked to be identified using only her first name and was participating in her first-ever Brooklyn Half. “If you have places that you are running through that are really special in the neighborhood, or having spectators, it really helps, definitely, to look around and take it all in.”
Vivian has been running since high school and started jumping into longer races a few years ago, she said. She and a friend, Kelly, decided to enter the race together, splitting up as they took the race at their own paces and finding each other on the boardwalk after they finished.
Ahead of the race, Vivian decided she wanted to try to beat her personal best time — and she did, crossing the finish line an hour and 43 minutes after she set off.
An unseasonably hot day case a shadow on the marathon — one runner, 32-year-old David Reichman, died after collapsing at the finish line as heat indexes rose above 90 degrees. At least 16 people were taken to the hospital after the sweltering race, some with “serious injuries,” according to Gothamist.
Course maps show stations for water, sports drinks, and medical care placed throughout the half marathon’s route, though some said organizers should have cancelled the race altogether in the face of high temperatures and humidity.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of a participant following the 2022 RBC Brooklyn Half,” a representative for New York Road Runners said, in a statement. “Our thoughts and sympathies are with the runner’s family and those close to them.”
Reichman was immediately tended to by NYRR medical staff after he collapsed and was taken to Coney Island Hospital for further treatment, NYRR said, and volunteer medical staff are stationed along the race route and ready to take care of any runner if they need assistance.
“The health and safety of our runners, volunteers, partners, and staff remain the top priority for NYRR,” the organization said. “In coordination and consultation with the city agency partners and weather experts, NYRR was closely monitoring weather conditions leading up to and during the race. Throughout the race, weather temperatures ranged from the low 60s to high 70s.”
Still, this year’s race drew some runners with a long history at the Brooklyn Half back to the course. Krissa Cetner and Alex Salazar, a Prospect Heights couple who stopped in the middle of the race to get married back in 2017, donned the bridal-ish attire they wore that day as they celebrated their five-year wedding anniversary, cheered on by their 3-year-old son. At least 40 members of the Ukrainian Running Club, led by Dmytro Molchanov, also jogged through the borough on Saturday.
Runners and supporters milled around on the Coney Island boardwalk as participants continued to thunder in across the finish line, waving signs and collecting their finisher’s medals while kiddos who aren’t quite ready for the full 13 miles took some practice runs in the free Boardwalk Kids Run.
Coach Joe Shayne of Team We Run Kings, a training group first formed to help fledgling runners tackle the Brooklyn Half Marathon, celebrated another successful run with his team after they all finished the race.
“It was a fun race, I didn’t really go in with any expectations except wanting to run fast and enjoying my surroundings, running through my new ‘hood, and it was fun, kind of seeing everything,” Vivian said. “I’m definitely going to recommend it to other people. If you are going to do a half, pick one in one of the boroughs, or a New York Road Runners one.”