Tag Archives: Race

Cyclists compete at Red Bull Mini Drome race in Maspeth

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos courtesy M&C Saatchi Sports and Entertainment

The fastest athletes on two wheels faced intense competition on a rare figure-eight mini velodrome racetrack in front of hundreds of spectators at the Red Bull Mini Drome Race held at 56-70 58th St. in Maspeth, on June 19.

Competitors raced around the track at the venue — a former dance hall that has been used as a creative art space for the past two decades — to test their speed, skills and tolerance for risk, as riders hit curves at a 45 degree angle on the rarely seen figure-eight track to see which athlete and team could post the fastest time.

The competition was divided into two sections: teams and Red Bull Mini Drome All-Stars, which mostly consisted of previous years’ competitors. The eight fastest teams competed in their own bracket and the All-Star race pitted 32 fixie (fixed-gear bike) professionals head-to-head.

In the individual competition, Red Bull Athlete and Florida fixie competitor Addison Zawada sped his way to the top and eked out a narrow victory over Bronx native Ryan Locascio by only .65 of a second.

“I’m really proud to have had a significant hand in building the unique figure-eight track this year,” Zawada said. “It really means the world for me to have also have won the competition.”

Local Bedford-Stuyvesant bike shop Deluxe Cycles, featuring riders Willis Johnson and Cooper Ray, won the team challenge in a tight race against New York City shop, Chari &Co.

“I was too young for the first and only figure-eight that I know of,” Johnson said. “To win this is perfect because I can pay homage to the original.”


Red Bull Mini Drome race comes to Maspeth

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy M & C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment

Competitive cyclists from all over the country will race to Maspeth on June 19 for this year’s Red Bull Mini Drome race.

The Red Bull Mini Drome race is an all-day racing competition for single-speed fixed gear cyclists where they can race against the clock and then against each other to see who can boast the fastest time at Project Studio, located at 56-70 58th St. in Maspeth, which is a former dance hall that has been used as a creative art space for the past 20 years.

This year’s race is set to be a special event because competitors will race around a rarely seen figure eight track. The figure eight track concept, which is known to only have existed a few times, one being the 1995 Toronto Cycle Messenger World Championships, involves more speed, extra precision and a bit of danger as cyclists take turn after turn without rest.

For this year’s race, Red Bull Mini Drome has taken the normal circular “velodrome” concept, which is usually located in arenas or outside, and shrunk it down to bring it inside.

Red Bull Mini Drome features the top cyclists from all five boroughs and across the country, including professional bike messengers, accomplished fixed gear competitors and Red Bull Athletes Austin Horse and Addison Zawada.

The racing event will take place from 7 p.m. to midnight and tickets are free for fans 21 and older and are given on a first-come, first-serve basis. Cycling fans can RSVP here.


Bayside resident prepares for annual pigeon race

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Xu Jun wakes up every morning at 4 a.m. and drives hundreds of miles away from his Bayside apartment with at least 70 pigeons, then lets them find their way home. He’s training his birds, known as homing pigeons, for a competition in September.

“When I was young I liked to have pigeons,” Jun said in Mandarin, speaking through translator Lisa Zhang. “It’s always been an interest of mine.”

Jun participates in various races across the northeast and he began the hobby three years ago. The World Center Memorial Race, the one Jun is currently preparing for, is hosted by the Bronx Homing Pigeon Club and takes place in late September. Each of Jun’s 101 pigeons has an individual number tag so that the race organizers can make sure nobody cheats. The organizers of the race will take Jun’s birds, along with hundreds of other contestants’ birds, to an undisclosed area where they are released. Contestants are judged based on how fast their flock comes home, according to Jun.

Jun’s birds live in a wooden nest, known as a loft, in a College Point bus repair shop. The loft serves as their home and final destination in races. Jun works for the shop and during the lulls in his work schedule he cleans the loft and feeds the birds.

Homing pigeons have two racing seasons. The first is in late September when the birds are less than a year old. The second season is in the spring and the birds are typically older by this point in their racing careers.

With the first race season approaching, Jun has been training his pigeons by taking them further and further out in New Jersey every week and then releasing them in the wild, where they will usually take several hours to fly back home.

“I just like pigeons. It’s a very simple thing for me and I enjoy it,” Jun said. That day he was particularly pleased with his birds’ athletic performance; he released 73 and all of them returned, an outcome that doesn’t always happen.

“There’s kind of a neat tradition to pigeon homing,” said Deone Roberts, who works for the American Racing Pigeon Union, an organization that’s affiliated with hundreds of pigeon clubs across the country.

“The bird’s simply enjoying flying and going home,” she said. “[The pigeon] wants to go home and be with his mate and their offspring. It makes good fun.”

Using pigeons for racing has been around in America since the late 1800s, according to Roberts’ organization. The birds, a common sight in New York City, were also used during WWII to transmit messages across enemy lines.


Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival returns for 24th annual celebration

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of HKDBF

Chinese celebrations are coming to Queens for the 24th Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in New York.

The event will begin on Aug. 9 in Flushing Meadows Corona Park with a Chinese ensemble of musicians playing ancient and modern music  at 10:30 a.m. The event is named after the main attraction that involves over 180 teams, 2,250 participants, on boats with a dragon head on them racing each other across the Meadow Lake. The event is divided into the 250 and 500 meter race. The teams compete for cash prizes and other trophies. The festival is completely free and will take place on Saturday and Sunday.

The tradition of dragon boat racing is an annual Chinese rite commemorating the poet and reformer Qu Yuan who drowned himself in the third century B.C. as a form of protest. To prevent fish and water dragons from eating his body, the locals beat their drums and splashed their paddles.

The rest of the weekend will be filled with performances like the shaolin warriors. Masters and students of Shaolin Kung Fu Center headquartered in Flushing will demonstrate their ancient skills.

Across the country, similar dragon boat races will be held to celebrate the fifth moon of the lunar calendar, according to the event’s organizers.

For more information, visit www.hkdbf-ny.org.


Councilmember Leroy Comrie exits borough president race

| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Councilmember Leroy Comrie has dropped his bid for borough president, his campaign announced on Saturday.

“After careful consideration, my family and I believe, due to personal matters, this is the best course of action,” he said in a statement. “I remain steadfast in my faith and belief in government and it is a true honor to continue to serve the people of southeast Queens in my capacity as councilmember.”

Comrie, who trailed rivals in fundraising, represents the 27th District, which covers St. Albans, Hollis, Cambria Heights, Jamaica, parts of Queens Village, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens.

He was first elected in 2002. His final term ends this year.

Comrie is the deputy majority leader, head of the council’s Queens delegation and chair of the Land Use Committee.

He was locked in a Democratic primary with Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., State Senator Tony Avella, former legislator Melinda Katz and businessman Everly Brown. Republican candidate Tony Arcabascio is also running.

After the Queens County Democratic Party endorsed Katz, there were rumors of a Comrie exit in late May.

It was the second major snub after Katz landed the backing of several leaders in Comrie’s district, including the Reverend Floyd Flake, who is the senior pastor of the 23,000-member Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Cathedral in Jamaica.

“Queens is one of the greatest boroughs in our city,” Comrie said, “and I am thankful to everyone for the opportunity to showcase my platform for inclusion and empowerment and express my passion for the borough that was afforded me in this race.”



Jeffrey Gottlieb bows out of 6th District Congressional race

| brennison@queenscourier.com


The hotly-contested 6th Congressional District race that has featured allegations and pot shots has its first casualty.

Jeffrey Gottlieb denied the nomination on Wednesday, April 18 and transferred the signatures he received to Stephen Green, a Rosedale resident, the Board of Elections said.

The announcement comes just days after the candidates submitted their petitions to the Board of Elections, with Gottlieb being among six Democratic candidates who collected the necessary signatures.

From the get-go, Gottlieb’s run set-off a firestorm of accusations.

Assemblymember Rory Lancman accused the Board of Elections employee of being a “sham” candidate whose entrance into the race was solely to divide the Jewish vote.

At the time Gottlieb said he was prepared to run a spirited campaign despite the attacks, but a New York Post report regarding a prior charge of arson led to him bowing out.

The Post reported last week that Gottlieb was arrested on charges of arson in 1971 for setting fire to his apartment.  The charge was plea-bargained down to fourth-degree criminal mischief, the paper reported.

A source close to Gottlieb told the New York Times that the personal strain for the public disclosure caused the candidate to quit the campaign.

Gottlieb could not be reached for comment.

The primary election will be held on June 26.

Howard Beach has come ‘a long way’ since racial incident

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Twenty-five years after escalating racial tensions in Howard Beach thrust the neighborhood into infamy, residents and local leaders alike say the “tight community” has changed for the better.

On December 20, 1986, Howard Beach emerged into the spotlight when a gang of white teens — waving bats and bellowing racial slurs — brutally beat three black men who chanced upon the neighborhood after their car broke down. According to reports, one of the three — 23-year-old Michael Griffith — was chased onto oncoming traffic on Shore Parkway, where he was hit by a car and killed after attempting to escape the mob.

Four of the assailants were charged with murder, manslaughter and assault, and the incident was deemed one of the most explosive racial crimes in the city in recent years by multiple reports — eventually making Howard Beach synonymous with hate, residents said.

“For people who are not from the area, it’ll trigger something when they hear the words ‘Howard Beach,’” said Margaret, a resident who did not want to give her last name. “That was one incident. It was a very unfortunate incident, but it shouldn’t define an entire neighborhood.”

Elected officials and community leaders shared the same sentiment, saying the infamous incident has stained the neighborhood’s name.

“There are people in every community of which race relations are what it shouldn’t be,” said Betty Braton, chairperson of Community Board 10. “We’re tarnished for something the community did not do or condone.”

Even still, Senator Joseph Addabbo said he’s “very happy” with where the community stands 25 years later.

“It’s always an effort to get Howard Beach out of that limelight,” he said. “We have come so far since then. It took a while to get to this point and I’m very happy where we are now. Howard Beach is a great community, made up of great, hardworking people. I think they do well promoting the good will of Howard Beach, where there are so many more positive things going on.”

According to the 2010 census, the vast majority of Howard Beach residents — close to 77 percent — are white, only about 2 percent are black and close to 17 percent are Hispanic.

“We’re a lot more diverse than in the past,” said Christina Gold, president of the Lindenwood Alliance. “We’ve become bonded. We’re one family. What happened 25 years ago… I don’t think we have that issue now, and we’re going to continue to be that way.”

Still, some residents said 25 years isn’t enough time for people to outgrow such “deep-rooted” feelings of hate.

“To say that it’s vanished — it’d be wonderful to say that, but I don’t think so,” said Meybol Geramita. “Unfortunately, people don’t change that quickly.”

This March, a noose — long a symbol of hatred and intolerance — was discovered hanging on a tree near Lindenwood’s P.S. 232, much to the disgust and dismay of the neighborhood. However, elected officials deemed it an “isolated incident,” pointing to the diversity of the neighborhood as proof.

“Unfortunately, no area of our great city is immune to hate crimes. We’re seeing it in Queens and also in Brooklyn, but nowhere should it be tolerated,” Addabbo said. “I think there are still remnants of [racism], but we have come a long way, and as the years go on, it’ll keep diminishing.”

Astoria resident running for Queens in NYC Marathon

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Salvatore Polizzi

Like many New Yorkers, Salvatore Polizzi had for years told himself he would run in the New York City marathon by the time he reached 30.

The decision to run a marathon usually rests in achieving a life-long goal and testing your limits. But the year Polizzi, a native of Ridgewood, turned 30 coincided with his mother, Anna, being diagnosed with cervical cancer. He always had a desire to run; now he had a reason.

“I’ve made it a point since 2009 to stop imagining a world without cancer, but actually start fighting for one,” Polizzi said.

Not wanting to just sit on the sidelines, Polizzi’s fight began with running the ING New York City Marathon that year as part of Fred’s Team of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, helping raise money for cancer research.

This year, the 32-year-old will continue raising money during his run while also competing as the Queens representative in the Foot Locker Five Borough Challenge.

For the 12th time, Foot Locker is pitting five strangers – one from each borough – to participate in a unique “race within a race.” Foot Locker chooses competitors who overcome challenges through sheer will, positivity and running.

“It’s an honor to be among the group chosen and I hope that, among the many wonderful experiences that will undoubtedly present themselves, my efforts will shine a spotlight on my cause,” he said.

The marathoners will run together over the first half of the race. Once they finish mile 13, the race within the race commences and the runners will be competing for borough bragging rights, along with a Tiffany trophy and a $1,000 donation to the charity of their choice.

The Pace University graduate owns and operates the pizzeria and Italian eatery, Tony’s in Bushwick, which his parents opened 35 years ago. The long days and nights running the restaurant do not provide Polizzi with optimal training time, but he manages to find opportunities – usually while the rest of the world sleeps.

A normal day begins at about 5 a.m., allowing Polizzi to get a one-hour morning workout before beginning his workday that lasts until 11 p.m. This is where the real marathon training begins. Once Polizzi gets back to his Astoria home, he grabs his running shoes. Those two hours when many have already hit the sack is when Polizzi hits the streets.

“They call it ‘the city that never sleeps,’ but it’s very peaceful,” he said of running at night.

The alone time and peacefulness of the runs is something Polizzi has needed in a turbulent time.

Polizzi, the second oldest of six, lost a brother in September to wounds suffered during a home invasion.

“Running alone puts you at peace to some degree,” Polizzi said. “No matter what challenges; no matter what’s going on, every step you take is a challenge. [Running] settles me, it grounds me, it focuses me. Not that you put things on the back burner, but you can put things into perspective.”

Polizzi was born and raised in Ridgewood, attending Grover Cleveland High School where he played baseball and ran track – to the dismay and surprise of many doctors.

The summer before Polizzi’s freshman year, he was struck by a car, shattering his ankle which required surgery and pins to be inserted.

“Doctors told me I would have to say goodbye to certain things,” Polizzi recalled. “I wasn’t going to be able to do the things athletically I did before.”

But being told he couldn’t do it made him all the more determined to prove the doctors wrong.

“I was on the track team for all four years,” he said. “The doctors thought I was crazy.”

That hard work and determination will come in handy when Polizzi is racing through the five boroughs. He aims to finish the marathon within three-and-a-half hours. During the race when many marathoners run to the sounds of their iPod, Polizzi will rely on the sounds of the city and its residents for inspiration.

“I would miss the feel of the crowd, the excitement from the crowd,” Polizzi said of racing with an iPod at the November 6 race. “The best thing about the marathon is [the spectators] inspire you to run faster. It’s an amazing feeling. You got a feel for what New York is really about, how amazingly inspiring they could be.”

And Polizzi knows what New York is really about, having grown up in Queens, with a family restaurant in Brooklyn and attending college in Manhattan, which is why representing his borough is all the more nerve- racking, he said. He wants to put his and the borough’s best foot forward.

“Queens is my home, Queens is where I grew up,” Polizzi said. “I want to bring this home for Queens, put the spotlight on Queens. I think I’ll be able to pull it off.”

To donate to Fred’s Team of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in support of vital cancer research visit http://mskcc.convio.net/site/TR/FredsTeamEvents/Freds_Team?px=1961618&pg=personal&fr_id=1460

Runners raise funds for Forest Park

| ecamhi@queenscourier.com

Runners — both avid and amateur — came from all areas of Queens to compete in this year’s 5K race in Forest Park.

About 172 people raced on Sunday, October 2 to raise money for Forest Park Trust, Inc., which provides Forest Park with free educational, recreational and cultural events.

Joining the runners were scores of volunteers and spectators who cheered as each crossed the finish line. The race began and concluded in Victory Field Running Track, with check-points setup throughout the trail route. Professional scoring and assistance was provided by the Forest Park Runners Club.

Ricardo Cuahuizo, 23, of Elmhurst was the first to cross the finish line with a time of 17:04, while Francisco Martinez, 41, of Jackson Heights finished second with a time of 17:06. Jesus Bazan, 26, of Woodhaven finished third.

When asked about the win, Cuahuizo said he was “happy” that he did well and called Forest Park “his place” for daily training after he finishes his work day in the construction industry. Cuahuizo has been active in local races and finished first in the Mile Challenge held in Alley Pond Park this April and seventh in Forest Park’s 4-Mile Classic Road and Trail Run this May.

But the race attracted runners at all levels.

Allison Mintz, 37, of Forest Hills said she recently began participating in community races for pure enjoyment.

Frank Gallo, Forest Park Runners Club’s race director, was very pleased with the turnout and the cooperating weather. Gallo applauded the runners and also emphasized the crucial role volunteers play in orchestrating this and other race events.

“I told them, ‘You’re all special. There’s a reason why you do this. It’s something inside you that makes you feel good.’ If I don’t have the volunteers to place pointers or give out the water, it’s not happening,” he said.

Also part of the event was a Children’s Field Day, which took place in the middle of Victory Field before and during the race. Volunteers, many of whom were Forest Hills High School students, helped youngsters with a variety of activities like a 50-yard dash “Fun Run,” as well as life-size chess and checkers games.

For an official list of all winners of the 5K race,visitwww.nycgovparks.org orwww.forestparkrunners.org.

The next big race at Forest Park will be the 4-Mile Classic Road and Trail Run in May 2012.