10 April 2012


Did you register for the NYRR Brooklyn Half-Marathon?  Fuhgeddaboudit!  Sure, the field was expanded from 5000 spots to 15000 but it still sold out in nine hours!  What is so tantalizing about the Brooklyn Half?  Maybe it is the tech shirt, the beach party at Coney Island, or the coupon for the Wonder Wheel?  Whatever the case, there sure is a great demand for NYRR races.

2012 so far looks disappointing for the NYRR Half series.  The Manhattan Half became a fun run because of snow.  The price increase for the popular Brooklyn Half suggests an unwelcomed trend.  Worst, the Queens Half in July will become a 10K, perhaps because of the heat.  What changes will come to the Bronx Half and the Staten Half?

NYRR races are super popular but they are not the only ones out there.  If you want to run a half-marathon in each borough of New York City, there are alternatives.  These other races may lack the high level of organization the NYRR or they may match it.  Some are much cheaper while others are more expensive.  They are most likely smaller in size and do not sell out as fast.  The experience can be better, or worse, but the point is it is possible to run half-marathons in the five boroughs and not all are NYRR-organized.  There is a reason why I used the phrase "not all are NYRR".

Happening mere weeks before the Brooklyn Half is the inaugural Verrazano Half on Saturday April 28.  Organized by NYCRUNS, the Verrazano Half route will involve the pier at 69th Street, the waterfront along the Belt Parkway, and some part of Caesar's Bay.  Some people wondered if the race route will be on Shore Parkway, the road that goes along the Belt Parkway.  Since race advertisement bills it as "flat", I doubt that Shore Parkway is used since it is hilly between 69th Street and Fourth Avenue.  The field was limited to 300 runners but then got expanded to 400. Still, that is a small number compared to the NYRR Brooklyn Half.  The $40 entry fee is nice though. https://nycruns.com/index.php?option=com_dtregister&Itemid=0&eventId=75&controller=event&task=individualRegister

Next, in May, we have the Rockaway Mother's Day Half. I plan to ride a bicycle going from Coney Island, over the Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, to the race starting area.  Most others will have go by car or maybe by the A subway line, which makes a big loop through Brooklyn and Queens.  Those people may even have to walk a bit after the subway ride.  If you are driving, you will have to pay toll for the Memorial Bridge.  I know, quite a hassle to get to but you probably can register easily, and it is only $22. http://signup.runnyc.com/evententry/2252101 . Not as inexpensive is the 13.1 Series, which I believe happens within Flushing Meadows Park. Even if you sign up as soon as registration opens, you will still pay $65. I understand you get a medal, which you rarely get with NYRR races, but that's still a lot of money for a Half.

In the NYRR Half series, Bronx Half comes after Queens so I will try to do the same.  For over a year now, the Holiday Marathons group have some success in organizing no-frill donation-welcomed trail races, in Van Cortlandt Park.  There is no  registration fees but there is also no race shirt, no individual bib, and no time chip.  You do get some memento, depending on the distance you ran, which can be three miles, six miles, half-marathon, or full marathon.  The trouble with Holiday Marathons is lately they could not officially hold races because Parks Department kept denying them permit.  I am just being optimistic here and hope that by Independence Day, or even Labor Day, HM will find some resolution and able to resume officially holding races. http://theholidaymarathons.com/Races

The Staten Island Trail Festival, organized by the New York Adventure Racing Association (NYARA) is similar to races done by The Holiday Marathons folks, in that the course runs through trails or forest paths.  Also like the Holiday Marathons races, the Trail Festival has different race distances for different runners, namely, 5K, 10K, 25K, and 50K.  Since we are talking about half-marathons, 25K is what you want since it is the closest to the 13.1 miles distance for a half-mary, which in metric is 21K.  The 2012 Trail Festival is scheduled on December 8, 2012, although the link of http://www.nyara.org/template.php?Add-a-Page=8 still refers to the 2011 event.

Hey, you left out Manhattan!  Not really, since I am not done.  Remember I wrote that not all the halves I mention are NYRR-organized?  That means maybe one is indeed organized by NYRR. Like the Norwegian Festival / Grete's Great Gallop in September.  Only last year that I discovered that the Great Gallop distance is 13.1 miles.  When the Bronx Half was cancelled because the City revoked permit due to Hurricane Irene, I used the credit from that to run in the Great Gallop.  It takes place in Central Park, just like the Manhattan Half, so it's a perfect substitute for the Manhattan Half.  Hopefully not too many people know about it so that it won't fill up so quickly.  Another NYRR Half that is not part of the five-borough series is the More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women's Half-Marathon.  As the name suggests, it is for women only.  I heard its price was also raised this year and filled up quickly so it should not be considered an alternative for the Manhattan Half.

I am on the mailing list of a few running organizations, as well as a few Facebook pages on the topic.  I am pretty sure there is no non-NYRR Half that takes place in Manhattan.  Please prove me wrong.


  1. Just fixed the date for the inaugural Verrazano Half.

  2. Anonymous7:01 AM

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Glad you found it useful!