Who’s Afraid of the Red Hook Crit 5K..?

The Red Hook Crit 5K is one of the fastest foot races organized in New York City and registration is currently live, and open to anyone. It is a small-scale grassroots running event that draws in elite-level talent from around the world..and as a result, it is one of the most intimidating races in the urban running scene. At some point in time almost everyone I know has been “too scared” to register for this one. Photo of the 2013 Red Hook Crit 5K start line by Takuya Sakamoto.

The Red Hook Crit 5K is considered to be a small race (a field of 500 runners comprised of both men and women), especially when compared to some of the other 5K races we have to choose from in NYC. This race is notorious for amping up your adrenaline to the point of a PR almost every time, and that is no accident. Organizer David Trimble’s own personal background in go-kart & formula-one racing (as well as the Trimble family’s legacy in cycling) come into play with the design of this event. A fastest-first-lap prime ensures that runners will be going full throttle off the start line, the $1000 first place prize ensures an all out battle till the end. The proof is in the facts. The top ten men last year all finished in under the 15 minute mark while the women’s top 8 finished under the 17 minute mark..with majority of all the other runners setting personal bests. This is a short circuit race, set on a super-technical 1.25km course that includes a 180 degree hairpin turn and multiple chicanes. Runners and cyclists (two separate races) are pushed to their limits in a delicate balance of speed, endurance and control. Although not so dangerous on foot, believe me, when the bike race starts the hairpin turn and the chicanes are where you want to keep your eyes. Spectating from the barricades, feeling the wind being pushed out of the way by the competitors as they rush by, gives you a taste of the danger and excitement they must be feeling..putting everything they have on the line, hoping they don’t lose control.

Granted, the running portion is a lot less dangerous than the cycling portion, but the excitement as a competitor is the same. There is plenty of room to breath in this field which provides you open lines to move through the course without having to constantly navigate around other runners to get ahead, however there will most likely be a fight to take the race line through the turns. You will be seen by spectators, you will not be lost amongst a sea of people, you will not be anonymous. You will be able to reach out and touch people that are very fast, faster than anyone who you ever thought was fast previously. You will feel the wake of runners blazing by you, runners like Haile Memdesha (last years overall winner) who ran at an avg pace of about 4:34/mi. This is a USATF certified 5K course and if you want a true PR in the 5K race distance you should register for this running event. This 5K is the preamble to the Trimble Racing Red Hook Crit, a world-renowned cycling race (you should know what this is already). Together they make one of the most exciting nights in the NYC athletic community.


Photo by Brian Vernor


Engineered for speed, everyone from elite runners to local everyday people have crushed their PRs on this course over the last few years. This is due to many race design elements such as a 1st lap prime ($300 cash prize given to the competitor that runs the fastest 1st lap), the nighttime start, an exceptionally competitive field and electrifying energy generated by the unique, technical, waterfront course and the tens-of-thousand screaming spectators piled on top of tractor trailers and cars going absolutely apeshit. Usually held in late march on the birthday of organizer David Trimble, this year the race has been moved to April 25th with hopes of friendlier race temps & dryer conditions than last year. During the 2014 event all the athletes and spectators were soaked in freezing rain for hours. The weather created very extreme and treacherous conditions for the cycling portion, especially for a race so laced with intensity and speed. The conditions were so bad the race had to be shortened in distance to help ensure the safety of the riders. Over the years that we have been friends, Dave and I talked about what it would be like if it rained during the race. How the rain would make things extremely dangerous and at the same time, potentially, result in the most beautiful documentation in the events history. The cycling race is one of the most competitive in the world, and due to the tight technical course, ridiculous level of competition and high speeds, it is also one of the most dangerous. The imagery from last year’s race is stunning, every shot cloaked with droplets of frozen water..please take the time to seek some of these images out.


Cyclist at the 2014 Red Hook Crit, blanketed in frozen rain. Photo by Meg McMahon.




The women getting ready to run at last years freezing, rainy Red Hook Crit 5K, photo by Brian Vernor.


If you are not familiar with David Trimble or his love letter to cycling, the Red Hook Crit, you’re in for a treat..you’re welcome. Google it. Check it out on Vimeo. Go to the trouble of investigating this race to the furthest reaches of the internet because, I promise you, you will not be dissappointed with your discoveries. It is so big now that the amount of content out there is as infinite as the stories told by its participants. Pros, messengers, olympians, all enter this race arena..which is essentially a parking lot in Red Hook, and fight until a state of absolute/complete exhaustion to cross the finish line first. With victory comes heaps of respect and bragging rights as it is well known around the world, that if you win the Red Hook Crit, you are one fast mother fucker. Watch a video, I don’t have the vocabulary to describe how intense the cycling portion of this event is.



The dramatic finish. Thibaud Lhenry winning the 2014 Red Hook Crit, Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. Image by William Tam


If you are a fan of real shit..not crap created by brands to make you feel like a superhero for spending $50 and going to a spinning class or running on a treadmill, then you will love everything about this race. Spawned from passion and the extreme devotion of a single person and their willingness to sacrifice for the sake of seeing a vision become reality, the Red Hook Crit and its creator David Trimble inspire tens of thousands of people to spectate, volunteer and compete. This 5K will be one of the most memorable running experiences of your life, should you decide to register. I am writing this blog post as a favor to you, to the person new to this scene who maybe has never heard of this race, or the one who has but has been too scared to run it. I know how you feel, I am running this year. It will be my first Red Hook Crit on the competitors side of the course barricades. I used to help David with portions of the organization of this race and I have never had the opportunity to run it. I urge you to register with me this year, lets see what this thing feels like.



This 5K is actually the older step brother to the OSR/Trimble Racing Midnight Half. When I first met David, probably the first or second time I ever held an OSR meet up, it was through a mutual friend. I had never heard of the Crit. Months passed and we became friends. After pulling off my first event (OSR Silent Auction) he asked me to give him a hand on organizing his race, so I did. Excited to be working on a new project I would ride my bike back and fourth to Red Hook from the LES a few times a week. I’d sit there and try to help with things, learning about the race as I went..and eventually, I told him about an idea I had for a race. This idea would become the Midnight Half. We both helped each other make our respective visions a reality, and that relationship, that partnership, still stands today.

Writing and posting on my website and social media is reserved strictly for things that I believe in, things that I have passion for..I think this race is a must for anyone in close enough proximity to NYC on April 25th to run it. The Red Hook Crit has an amazing history, rooted in passion, competition and personal victories. The Red Hook Crit 5K has a field comprised of world class athletes and local heroes, and even the first time competitor. It is a one-of-a-kind race experience that is within reach for all skill and fitness levels. It is still small enough that you can line up next to some of the worlds fastest runners (literally), you can feel them moving the air as they lap you..next to the waterfront with the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop, under the Brooklyn sky, on a warm spring night in April.