Friday, December 18, 2009

Prospect Park Track Club - 40 Years

Prospect Park Track Club -  40 Years

As we celebrate 40 years of running in Brooklyn and beyond, we will bring you interviews with many members: founders, "old-timers", former members, greats past and present, and newcomers.  Rather than a profile of  "Meet the Members", our interviews will focus specifically on running while a member of PPTC.

Bob Falk
Interview by Paul Soskind

Bob Falk is a 66-year-old member who has been running since his freshman days in Brooklyn's Midwood High School, where he was a miler and half-miler.

P.S.  So you ran through college.  What then?
B.F. I joined the now defunct Bruce Track Club and competed in A.A.U. handicap events.  These events were not time handicaps, neither. You were given a distance in yards as your handicap.  The formula was based on the best times of the fastest runners; you put a pennant at the distance (in an 880, you might get 40, 50, or 60 yards less to run).

P.S.  How did you gravitate to the longer road distances?
B.F.  I saw the distances as a challenge.  Also, I had reached a point in life where I knew my times had peaked on the track.

P.S.  Is that what made you start running ultra marathons?
B.F. Yes, and it also presented a great sense of time in the unknown in trail races.

P.S. Name some you've completed.
B.F. The Old Dominion and the Western States.

P.S. What made you join PPTC?
B.F. In the 1980s, you guys had a strong ultra team with Johnny Kunul, Nathan Whiting, Lou Rios, Frank DeLeo, and Bill McMahon and Al Prawda.  You were winning team events and, and that motivated me to train harder, get some awards.

P.S. Getting back to the "shorter" road races, how would you say they differ from the 1970s to now?
B.F. First, the fields were smaller. A race of 2000 plus was unusual.  They were often broken up into races within races. So, you would have a separate Men Under 40, and a Women plus Men 40 and over as two separate races.  The competition was more intense.  The caliber of the fields was much better.  Many of today's age group winners or places would have been middle of the pack in the 1970s and early 80s.

P.S.  What do you attribute that to?
B.F.  First, people trained much harder.  There were less economic and family demands, so people had more time to train.  There were fewer recreational runners.

P.S.  So summing it up, Bob, what, in your view, is a "runner"?
B.F.  Someone who trains always on the edge between P.R.s and injury.  Someone who will push his teammates in training, but wants to slaughter his best friend in competition.  When you've trained to exhaustion, gotten these P.R.s, gone through crippling injury, fought your way back to compete again with no reservation, then you're a runner.

P.S. Thanks for your insights.

Any club member wishing to express their views on our club or the eve r changing racing scene, can contact me at 718-768-7987 or e-mail me at and I will be delighted to set up an interview.  Your thoughts are most welcome, and I encourage you to help us paint a picture of PPTC at 40

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