A challenge of speed this was not.
I quickly realized the New York Road Runners (NYRR) Queens 10K would have talented, serious marathoners when about 9,000 runners gathered at Flushing Meadows Corona Park on Sunday despite a night of rain and threatening gray skies above.
Thankfully the forecasted showers held off, but my finish time of 48:52 shouldn’t be considered fast when the male first-place finisher Ayele Megersa Feisa clocked in at 30:14 minutes and female winner Etaferahu Temesgen finished at 33:16.
I ran in part to see if the NYRR met its self-regulated goal to produce a race that promotes and represents the borough. And kudos to NYRR for keeping the 6.2-mile race in Flushing Meadows for more than two decades as it highlights many of Queens’ jewels on the course.
“The park has so many beautiful iconic structures,” said Peter Ciaccia, NYRR’s president, events and TCS New York City Marathon race director. “To go through the whole course and see the museum, see the Unisphere, run past Citi Field, it’s pretty cool.”
Running around this landmark-filled green space is like a trip to a museum, and this year competitors raced through a transforming park.
We passed the expanding Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and enormous cranes roofing Arthur Ashe Stadium. We saw the New York State Pavilion, which is being rehabilitated, and curved around Meadow Lake, which is being restored.
Then there’s Citi Field, where the New York Mets have been rebuilding for some time, and towards the end, we wrapped around the revitalized Queens Museum, and passed by the Unisphere — the “World’s Borough’s” symbol — before coming to the finish line.
It is undoubtedly a fun race that showcases much of what the borough has to offer, but the truth is the Queens 10K can still do more to accentuate Queens.
Those familiar with Queens know its famous structures well, but for foreigners of the borough, if some signage existed along the course maybe it would help runners develop further interest in them.
And while the Queens 10K serves as the borough’s representative in the Five-Borough Series, I found it weird that Queens — the largest borough by land mass — has the shortest race. I was told for logistical reasons it wouldn’t be a good idea to expand the race in Flushing Meadows. But because it is smaller it is viewed as an easier event for some running clubs.
I had one problem with the actually course road itself: there were crater-size pot holes around the Meadow Lake section that we had to hop and dodge. The Parks Department should take care of that before next year’s event.
Post-race, there was a fun festival with games for children, a raffle and food vendors. It’s a brilliant idea, but while there was an array of food trucks that frequent Manhattan, I was disappointed that Queens’ reputation as being a hot spot for diverse food wasn’t highlighted by the inclusion of more local food businesses.
The 7 train’s reputation for being shoddy was witnessed by many runners though. The Flushing-bound line had delays that prevented some runners from getting to the starting line on time. This isn’t helpful to promote the race or the borough. While the NYRR is not at fault, it did acknowledge the problem and is trying to appease affected runners.
— Ari Abreu (@AriAbreu24) June 21, 2015
Recognizing that the race could use a tune-up, next year the NYRR will turn to local runners to find ways to add even more Queens spirit to the event.
“There are a couple of running clubs out here in Queens that are interested [in showcasing the borough more],” Ciaccia said, “so I want to work with them over the course of this year and see what tweaks they are interested in.”