Thursday, June 18, 2009

From The Archives Long Day’s Journey Into Night – Birth Of The Metro 100K

From The Archives
Long Day’s Journey Into Night – Birth Of The Metro 100K
Paul Soskind

In the late 1970’s, the ultramarathon scene was limited to the Met 50 miler: 10 loops of the upper five miles in Central Park, the Knickerbocker 60K: six plus full Central Park loops: the Fresh Pond 50M: 20 2.5M loops around a Boston reservoir; the Lake Waramaug 50M and 100KM events on a hilly 7.66M loop in northern Connecticut and the Mechanicsville 100K in Pennsylvania’s western hill country.

To create a venue for local ultra runners and national caliber athletes, Rich Inamorato, Lenny Nemerovsky and I explored several sites in the five boroughs. We settled on the lake loop (same as the first loop of the Turkey Trot) because it was relatively short (1.7467 miles), thus enabling us to monitor the progress of the runners and its accessibility to lockers and shower facilities at the Parade Grounds. By including the small traffic island near the Seeley Street playground, we had an ideal 1.75 mile loop.

The drawbacks, which we felt were outweighed by the advantages were: (1) the necessity of crossing the main road twice per loop, partially mitigated by running in a clockwise direction; (2) having the runners negotiate 35 plus loops around said circuit; (3) which precluded the necessity of ample volunteers for scoring and aid stations.

We decided on the Saturday after Thanksgiving Day for the event because of a post holiday drop in activity in the park, relatively mild weather with no expected temperature variation extremes and 10-plus hours of daylight. We used a rental van to carry the supplies to the start, set up two tables – one for scoring, the other for aid. Scoring was done on an elaborately crafted chart with help from PPTC founder Harry Murphy consisting of the names of the competitors arranged vertically and 35 diagonally slashed boxes arranged horizontally to record each runner’s time per lap and cumulative time. Backup charts, small enough to fit on clipboards were kept by other scorer recorders inside the van. While I had wanted to compete, that first year I worked the race.

At 7:00 a.m. sharp on a sunny but chilly 34 degree day, 31 runners set off on their long journey. They included Park Borner, then America’s “premier ultrarunner,” Don Jewel, Bill Lowder, Bob Van der Kieft, George Gardner and our own indominatable Johnny Kenul. By 11:00 a.m., the field was really strung out with the leaders between a 7:00 and 7:35 minute pace or 50K or more, while others had not reached the marathon mark. By then, the temperature had risen to the high 40’s and the sky was overcast. While some runners appeared strong and confident, others were in real trouble. We were charting lap times, looking for patterns of drastic slowdowns because we had informed the competitors that anyone in danger of not maintaining a pace to finish with the 10 hour time limit would either have to step it up or be waved off at this time, whether they completed the distance or not.

At this time, Queen’s song, “Another One Bites the Dust” seemed appropriate for those who succumbed to the time and distance on their feet. To their credit, that initial year we had about a 30% dropout rate and more than 20 runners completed the distance with four slightly over the limit.

We celebrated their achievement with an awards buffet at the now-defunct Scarela’s Italian Restaurant on Church Avenue where the winner, Park Barner, and the others received the accolades due them. Our great initial success enabled us to restage this event the following year and for 10 more years to come. The second year we had a momentous event with a stellar field. For those of you considering a go at this distance, here are the finishing times and pace per mile of the top 10 in year two:
Alan Kirek – 6:37:54 (6:16/mile)
George Gardiner – 7:37:20 (7:21/mile)
Hal Stern – 7:54:42 (7:36/mile)
Bob Van der Kleft – 7:57 (7:39/mile)
Gunther Erich (50+ years old) – 8:11:46 (7:55/mile)
Park Barner (defending champ) – 8:14:37 (7:57/mile)
Paul Soskind – 8:22:59 (8:08/mile)
John McQueen – 8:25:56 (8:08/mile)
Ray Krolewicz – 8:42:41 (8:21/mile)
Dave Obelkevich – 8:43)05 (8:22/mile)

In this event, Alan Kirek set an American and North American record for the distance while, for the first time in ultrarunning history, 13 participants broke the nin hour barrier for the 62.14 mile distance. This still remains a high water mark in ultrarunning annals while 23 of the 33 starters completed the event within the time limit.

Meet The Members: Chi Iregbulem

Meet The Members: Chi Iregbulem
By: Amy Duquette

“I heart New York!” PPTC member Chi Iregbulem says while smiling and making the shape of a heart with her hands. Chi has been a New Yorker for 32 years. She was born and spent her first three years in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, but the rest of her life has been in Queens, Long Island and Brooklyn. However, she began to experience and embrace it in a new way three years ago after becoming a New York City runner. While running through Prospect Park she connects with it and sees parts that she has never seen. Running through the streets of Brooklyn allows her to see the city “…in a way that you can only do while running. All the nuances…the little shops…over the bridges, you can’t see the city like that from a car.” She also feels the connection to the runners of this city, a very specific community that she is glad to be a part of.

Specifically, she values her membership in the Prospect Park Track club. “Everybody is welcoming and supportive. It’s what kept me going.” Chi stresses, “I am not a fast runner, but (in PPTC) I’ve never felt bad for that, or less than anyone else.” Quite contrary, she’s felt appreciated.

Chi’s parents came from Nigeria and had Chi and her two younger brothers in the US. She attended the United Nations International School (UNIS) and then catholic high school on Long Island. It was in high school when she first began running, joining the cross country and track teams. Chi stated that she “enjoyed running,” but despite the three mile races she participated in at Van Cortlandt and Sunken Meadows parks, she was “…always a better sprinter.”

While attending Syracuse University for her undergraduate degree in TV, Film and radio production and then Baruch College for her MBA, she stopped running. She remained “balanced”, as she puts it, with dance and yoga classes. Receiving some harsh comments about her size from family members while at a wedding in May 2006; she was rightfully hurt, but then used it as motivation. Shortly after, a googled search for “track clubs” led her to PPTC. She started her engagement in the club and running with the Tuesday night Speed Series trainings. “I remember the first night I came. I was dressed totally wrong for running. And although I thought it would come right back to me, no way!” Chi found the trail run that Coach Tony had the group do almost impossible; after all it was 15 years since she had run.

She did not give up on that day, or any day since. “No matter if I’m limping across the finish, I’m going to finish every race I start.” Chi raced the PPTC Turkey Trot that year, her first since high school. She noticed her progress in the short amount of time since she came back to running and welcomed that familiar ‘runner’s high’. She has run the Turkey Trot, among other races, every year since.

Every member of our club has individual goals and reasons why they started and why they continue it. Chi says, “I’m not a hardcore runner, but I get what they and every runner experiences. Racing gives me that adrenaline rush…I get that sense of accomplishment every race I do.” What Chi lacks in speed she makes up for in heart. She is a huge cheerleader of PPTC and runners in general. She volunteers in the club and her dedication can be counted on. And she is the spectator who will yell out the name of each individual runner who puts his/her name in their bib as she watches the entire NYC marathon run by.

Speaking of the marathon, Chi is flirting with the idea of giving it a go in 2010. “It’s one of my bucket list things to do. You have to do it if you run in New York City.” She’s completed six of the nine required qualifying races to date. “There is rarely a time when I don’t finish what I started.”

Chi’s non-running interests include spinning, roller skating and dancing. She’s studied hip hop and modern dance and spent several years with Harambee Dance Company, a contemporary West African dance troupe that performed in various places, including Ghana. Currently, Chi and her fiancĂ© are planning a wedding. Finding that she was not interested in the traditional parts of a wedding, they are working out a way to make the event their own. They both spend some of their time in NYC and some in Baltimore where her fiancĂ©’s job is based. Being a New Yorker through and through, she does not want to leave this city completely and is also finding the means to live a dual-city life.

Balance is a theme that keeps returning to Chi. She takes care of herself emotionally and coming back to running has allowed her to take care of herself physically. This balance may be the reason for the positive energy that she emits and can be felt by those around her.

Your Health

Your Health

Christine Boutross

Did you wake up one morning recently with an urge to clean your home and throw out the candy wrappers from under the bed? Perhaps you've been craving water or fruit, or even felt like going to the gym for the first time in months. If you did, you're not alone. Each spring we instinctually feel the need to clean both our home and body. And if you spent the last few months with a bottle of wine watching reruns of Sex and the City, a cleanse may bring you out of hibernation.

We take in harmful substances daily, ranging from pollution and food additives to excess alcohol and junk food, not to mention toxic people. In excess, this contributes to poor health, stress, and a weak immune system. A spring cleanse is an opportunity for your body to rebuild. Some people choose cleansing kits or plans, like the Master Cleanse or similar programs. I actually recommend a less drastic approach, since our body is sensitive and may not react well to sudden changes. Try out the following tips, for the next 5 - 7 days and see how much better you feel.

Drink More Water
Filtered, distilled or spring water helps hydrate and clean the body. Adding fresh lemon juice is a plus. Have a minimum of 6 cups per day, starting with one in the morning on an empty stomach.

Eat Greens
Green leafy vegetables like field greens, arugula, kale, broccoli raab, and collards are rich in vitamins and cleanse the blood. They also contain fiber which binds toxins so they're more easily excreted. Eat them several times a day, if possible. You could even go to the juice bar for a green drink, 1 -2 times per day.

Reduce Unhealthy Foods
Sugar, white bread, cookies, candy, chips, soda, caffeine, packaged food, alcohol - they all decrease your energy, and keep your body full of extra junk. Try to cut back on these as much as you can, and give your digestive system a break. You'll be amazed how much more clearly you think when your body has the right fuel. You'd not put diesel fuel into an unleaded car, so why put the wrong fuel in your body?

Try Skin Cleansing
Buy a loofa or body scrub. This helps the skin eliminate waste and encourages blood flow. You could also visit a Turkish spa and have your favorite cabana boy scrub your body for you. Try this once per day

Christine Boutross is Personal Trainer and a Holistic Health Counselor. She is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

Please visit Christine’s

Food Focus: Brown Rice

Brown rice, with its sweet nutty flavor, provides four times the amount of insoluble fiber found in white rice, because it is a whole grain that has not been stripped of its natural bran covering. It contains an impressive number of vitamins and minerals such as concentrated B vitamins (which help nervous systems and mental depression), niacin, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, and even some vitamin E. This whole grain also contains a small amount of high-quality protein in the form of the amino acid lysine, which helps boost the body’s ability to fight viruses, especially those that cause cold sores.

In each grain of brown rice exists a matrix of whole, unrefined energy and nutrition. It is a complex carbohydrate and therefore burns slowly in the body, providing a steady stream of long lasting energy while increasing the brain’s levels of serotonin, the chemical responsible for the feeling of well-being. Those who consistently eat brown rice report steady energy and an overall feeling of calm and balance in their daily lives.

For brown rice and whole grains in general, the majority of digestion occurs in the mouth through chewing and exposure to saliva. For optimal nutrition and assimilation, it is vital to chew your rice well and with awareness. A great meditation is to find a calm place, without distractions, to sit down for your meal. Make it a habit to chew each bite 20 times or more. See how this simple practice can help your digestion and overall focus for the rest of your day.

Recipe of the Month: Brown Basmati Pilaf

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Cooking Time: 30-40 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


1 cup brown basmati rice

2 cups of water

1/2 cup of dried cranberries

1/2 cup of walnut pieces

1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley

pinch of salt


1. Rinse rice in fine mesh strainer until water runs clear.

2. Boil the water and add rice and salt, cover and reduce heat.

3. After 15 minutes add cranberries and walnuts to top, do not stir.

4. Cook 15-25 minutes more, until all the liquid is absorbed.

5. Remove from heat, add parsley and fluff with fork, cover and let set for 3-5 minutes and serve.