Most people see me running in the park and think that I am a hardcore, serious runner. Don't get me wrong, I have a drawer dedicated to just running attire and it constantly falls off the track... is that a sign I have too much gear? On the other hand, my friends know me as a hardcore pizza eater. My wildest fantasy came true when a friend told me about the NYC Pizza Run. Could this possibly be the race that combines the two things I do best? You better believe it.
The NYC Pizza Run was held in Tompkins Square Park in the eastern heart of Manhattan/Alphabet City. Unlike most other parks in NYC, this one doesn't boast pretty flowers and early morning Boot Campers, rather it is filled with many homeless people sleeping the morning away and/or waiting in line at the food pantry trucks. It can be a little depressing at times as racers weave through the local crowds in the park, but you will see a few here and there eating pizza, knowing they are enjoying the adventure a little bit as well. The race consists of 4 loops around the park totaling a distance of 2.25-miles. After the 1st loop, you are required to eat 1 piece of pizza, you do the same on the 2nd and 3rd loop. You must fit the entire piece in your mouth or tempt death by running with it in your mouth. As you round the 4th loop, runners are asked to thrash their arms into the air with excitement so they can be done both running and eating pizza. The pizza was provided by Cer Te. May the best runner and pizza eater take the crown!
My close friend and fellow training buddy, Jonathan Blyer [owner of ACME Bicycle Co in Brooklyn], took 2nd place overall in last year's NYC Pizza Run and this year's was the mastermind behind my victory on Sunday. He told me that my strategy to consume the pizza in a timely fashion wasn't necessarily about shoving it all in as quickly as possible, rather, maintaining a high cadence while chewing. You know you've been doing triathlons too long when you begin using the word cadence while eating. As I finished my first loop of the race, I had the slice in hand and began taking tiny bites and chewing with a high cadence. To my surprise, that 1st slice was down in no time and the competition behind me was hardly through their own 1st slice. By the 2nd and 3rd loop, I had dropped most of the females with my amazing pizza eating skills combined with a stellar 10K pace. Along the way I did have a run in with a few older Chinese ladies pushing granny carts as well as passing by a homeless man who didn't understand what we were running from. We were allowed to run with the pizza in our mouth and it wasn't until the 4th loop that while the pizza was in my cheek like a hamster stores carrots, that the pizza in my belly wanted to come up to watch the action. Not once, but twice I barfed up the pizza and like all athletes in it to win it, I swallowed the pizza back down and held on for my 1st place victory!
so how did this race rank on the Essential Race Scale? 38/40
course difficulty: 8/10
scenic offering: 10/10
volunteer/race support: 10/10
- 4x5/8-mile loops around Tompkins Square Park
- the start, finish and aid stations are all located in the same spot and are easily marked with chalk on the ground
- the course is both asphalt and brick and can be a bit slick if it's wet or covered with garbage
- watch out for the food pantry lines, they popped up just north of the finish leaving racers weaving between the shoppers
- lots of shade offered around the loop
- there are no bathrooms, racers beware!
- volunteers will hand you the pizza as you run into the aid station, you must have it all in your mouth before running again
- you are provided with amazing pizza during and after the race
- water is also complimentary
- (1) red pizza coozie!
- a short sleeve NYC Pizza Run cotton tee
- a free drink ticket
- a menu from pizza place
- 1st place prizes were epic and included: An Emile Henry pizza stone from Pizza a Casa Pizza School, $25 Gift Certificate to Pizza by Cer té, $25 Gift Certificate to Plum Pizzeria and Bar, $25 Gift Certificate 900 Degrees, $25 Gift Certificate to Common Ground, $10 Gift Certificate to Eddies Pizza Truck)
post race snacks:
- more pizza!
- drinks at local bar with other participants
Overall, I have to say, I had a blast participating in this race. Sometimes we spend too much time on our A races and overlook great races like the NYC Pizza Run. Be sure to check out the video posted on the NY Times Blog as well. Special thanks to Jason Feirman for putting on a great race and we hope he can take a break from school next year to give me a run for my money, or I mean pizza eating skills!