Friday, April 20, 2018

2018 15th Annual Shape Women's Half Marathon Recap

2018 Shape Women's Half Marathon in Central Park, NYC. Official Logo Tee by New Balance and Leather Bondi Road Shoes by Hoka One One. XTreme XTraining is once again Media Partners with ABC News's Good Morning America and Shape Magazine.

NYC, NY Sunday April 15th was cold,windy and damp at only 40 degrees (real feel 30 degrees) in Central Park. That didn't dampen the spirits of thousands of women, (6,120 completed the race), who showed up to run nonetheless. The start line is near Tavern on the Green at Central Park West. This year we had news correspondent Megyn Kelly and Jen Widerstrom of NBC's The Biggest Loser running as well as other area celebrities and bloggers as part of the relay teams.

The opening ceremony started off with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner which always gets me, (such a patriot I am), and a few words from our host/organizers, the NYRR and their President/CEO Michael Capiraso, pictured below. Michael has been president since May 2015 and under his tenure has expanded the youth outreach program to include thousands more NYC children interested in running and competing. He has also worked out a relationship with New Balance running shoes who provided the sporty Shape Women's Half Marathon race jerseys both last year and again today for 2018. Michael Capiraso and my friend Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives have worked to return Central Park to its auto-free beginnings. According to an announcement in Central Park by Mayor De Blasio, the roadways will become an auto-free reality this spring.

New York Road Runner's President and CEO, Michael Capiraso waiting to address the crowd before the race starts.
Michael, a seasoned runner himself, just completed his 26th NYC Marathon
New Balance also sponsors the NB Run Hub which brings events, training and fitness resources to runners of all levels. The race starting temperature was in the low 40's and windy with many runners wearing heavy insulated winter jackets prior to the run. 

Meghan Kelly at the center of the 2018 Shape Half start line.
Photo: Courtesy of Shape Women's Half Marathon

Olympic Medalist, American Record Holder and winner of last year's Shape Half, Deena Kastor was in NYC at the NYRR Run Center, NB Run Hub on April 10th promoting her new book, "Let Your Mind Run".  However she did not run the Shape Half this year. Since I started in 2015, she has run that year then skipped 2016 and was back in 2017.

Deena Kastor, the race record holder, saying a few words before the 2017 Shape Half

Tripping the START sensors. Women runners cross over the start line to begin recording their time. 
If you've never participated in a timed race like this, it is important to pin your race number in the zone delegated by the race officials. This is because sensors in your badge are detected when you pass through the designated checkpoints along the race route. Runners who do not wear their numbers in the proper position risk not having their times recorded and being disqualified from placement awards and prizes. The Shape Half offers everyone who completes the course a finisher's medal. You have 4 hours to complete 13.1 miles so just as long as you make it in under that time, a medal awaits you.

One of the many watering stations along the race route.
There are 4 upgrades on the park route which loops around twice for a total of  12 miles and then begins a third loop to complete the 13.1 miles.  You end up at the 72nd Street Transverse where the finish line is located and it feels like an eternity getting there!  The worst for me was Harlem Hill which is 1.16 miles long and about an 80 ft. climb so don't be lulled into thinking that Central Park is all flat. The park has hills built into it by design. In fact it is also home to large outcroppings of bedrock known as Manhattan Schist. One large example of the schist is Umpire Rock (also known as Rat Rock), located in the southwest corner of the park. This corresponds to 62nd Street and 7th Ave. If you want to do this race, or run the Central Park loop, definitely build in some climbs during your training. My local park has inclines and hills so the Central Park hills were not such a shock.

Congrats to Askale Merachi of the Urban Athletics Club with here time of 1:15 - 19!
Photo: Courtesy of Shape Women's Half Marathon

The winner of this year's race was Askale Merachi of the Urban Athletics Club with a brisk time of 1:15 minutes - 19 seconds. The record holder for this race is Deena Kastor who completed her 2017 run in 1:08 minutes - 16 seconds. The weather was quite a bit warmer last year with much less wind. As a result many runners were dressed in heavier clothes.

L-R Megyn Kelly, today's race winner Askale Merachi, NYRR President Michael Capiraso and  Biggest Loser celebrity trainer Jen Wiedstrom.

Some of my training table goodies from BroBasket and Limoneira Ranch

XTreme XTraining is pleased once again to be media partners with ABC New's Good Morning America and Shape Magazine. Special thanks to all my race sponsors and supporters namely Hoka One One, Carlson Labs Nutritional Supplements, MitoQ Antioxidants  BroBasket and Limoneira Ranch Citrus

The Shape Half race course near Tavern on the Green

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