The OSR30 was an event I put together for a couple friends that wanted to run around the perimeter of Manhattan. Instead of it being a casual run, we turned it into a check-point driven race. We had a few very strong runners interested in the route so it only seemed logical to open it up to others and see who could finish the run the fastest. I started planning a course in November of 2013. Chipped away at it, little by little over time..coming up with a route that took competitors up the east side, across the island at around 145th, down the west side and over a couple of the downtown bridges. I set the date for January 25th with a 4pm start. This would send the athletes into a cold night-run along the coastline..the idea was to make it tough.
A few months before this race, OSR was interviewed by the New York Times. During the interview I mentioned that I was planning on organizing a 30mi race around the perimeter of the city..this caught the attention of a journalist from Norway, Kjetil Lyche. Kjetil contacted me and asked if he could write a piece on the race, along with taking some photos. He also said the story would most likely appear in the Norwegian Business Daily. Axel Oberg shot the race and the events that followed. The images in this post are all Axel’s (unless noted otherwise). For Kjetil’s story check out “Nike Hawks”.
The week of the race we had ridiculously brutal winter weather, over the top bad. Temperatures were way below freezing, winds were consistently coming through at high speeds and the ground was covered in a layer of frozen slush and filth. There were icy patches everywhere. Piles of relocated snow..now brown and littered with debris..were frozen solid on every corner. Bike paths along the FDR and The West Side Highway were the least of the city’s concerns..they were neglected and in rough shape. I didn’t think there would be any way for us to bike-escort the competitors and that concerned me. I needed to be able to provide some kind of support to the runners considering the distance being ran and the conditions that they were running in. Three days before the race it was pretty clear that we were going to have to reschedule due to dangerous riding/running conditions. If we couldn’t escort the runners and provide support, the race would have to be post-poned.
I sent an email out to my 15 registrants asking them to choose between two alternate dates, or to request a refund on the entry fee. After the vote, the 22nd of February was chosen..this gave us a couple more weeks to stress it. I notified the athletes, volunteers and the two Norwegian journalists.
The following weeks came and went. I was monitoring the weather reports continuously. As we got into the week of the race reports said we were going to have a rash of really warm temperatures and very little precipitation. Ideal conditions for rapid snow/ice melting on the bike paths and streets. When the 22nd came we really lucked out, it was over 60(F) and sunny. To make things easier we changed the start time to 12:00pm, and redesigned the course a bit, chopping off the northern most part of the island and adding most of the OSR Navy Yard Route. The race was executed in minimal fashion. It was organized out of my apartment on Ludlow Street. In the morning I bought a bunch of bagels and juice, made a bunch of coffee and people started to show up one by one..volunteers, athletes and journalists. We hung out for a bit while runners stretched in the living room, talked about route strategy and loosened up. I had cooked a huge pot of vegetable soup the night before and was letting that heat up on the stove for afterwards. A friend of mine, (Denis Ngo of Lonestar Empire) had hooked me up with a smoked brisket and some sides..a nice post run reward for my staff and athletes.
As I mentioned earlier, this race was designed using a check-point format, similar to the Midnight Half. I had check-point volunteers set-up all around the city, each there to establish contact with the 15 runners every 6-8 miles. I knew that it would be impossible to monitor each individual athlete once the field spread, so these check-points provided points of contact with each and every athlete on a consistent basis. The last athlete to pass through each check point would then be escorted by that check-point marshal to the next sequential check-point. Escorts would pass the last place athlete to each other like a baton, thus providing a continuous escort for the last place runner. This gave us a clean sweep of the course, assuring no one was left behind. Escorts and staff added so much to this race. The intent in creating so many volunteer positions in this event was to include everyone in the execution of the race, including the people that didn’t or couldn’t run..everyone got to be a part of it.
Once we got it going Jan Muench and Knox Robinson went at it. Knox set the pace and got down to business right away, taking some back alley routes to the base of the Manhattan Bridge with the pack following behind. Then began the long trek around the tip and up the east side. Knox and Jan battled, exchanging the lead a few times as we headed up the East River Bike Path and then on to 1st Ave. They were the only two in site as I escorted them up into the upper east side. Conditions were ideal, although the streets were pretty dry and clear, they had a bit of dried dirt and salt covering them. Around the sewer drains there were some surviving piles of snow, and a bit of ponding water..but conditions were not bad at all.
I stuck with Knox into Harlem as he and Jan took separate routes, Zach Mangan escorted Jan. At this point in the race, around 145th and the east side, it wasn’t clear who was in first place. Both Jan and Knox were running a fast pace and had separated themselves from the rest of the field. It was a great experience carving through some of the streets uptown, listening to Knox talk about the things he had done earlier in life, before running was everything. He spoke with a very calm, comfortable tone. He seemed to know exactly what streets to take to keep the sloping grade in his favor..before I knew it we found ourselves on the west side.
Geb and Robby were set up along the West Side Bike Path at about 145th St., and had informed me that Jan had already passed through and was on his way south escorted by Zach. I rode ahead to catch up..leaving Knox in second place. I crossed paths with Jan still on the bike path at around 100th Street. I stuck with him as he headed south towards the next check-point near the Staten Island Ferry. Jan had a very comfortable lead, I have to say I was shocked. I knew he was a strong runner but had no idea he was able to get ahead of Knox and maintain the gap. Jan was pacing at about 10mph, and was hitting perfect stride. Very strong. He carried that pace pretty consistently..he even seemed to gain strength as he ran towards marathon distance. Eventually we made our way to the last segment of the race, the Navy Yard Route. Jan flew through this part of the course with strong speed and energy. He never seemed to tire. He finished in first place, with a time of 3:12:17.6 for 30mi.
Thank you to all my volunteers, competitors and spectators.
This race will happen again in the early months of 2016 with some slight changes to the format. Look for information in the next few weeks after the holidays. For any questions about this post, or upcoming race information email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.