The 2015 Airbnb Brooklyn Half on Saturday, May 16 was the largest 13.1-mile race in the U.S. and the biggest in the event’s history with 26,482 runners crossing the finish line on the Coney Island Boardwalk. I worked the event for NYRR as a race announcer.
For perspective, the three largest American half-marathons in 2014, per RunningUSA, didn’t break the 26,000 runner mark:
- NYRR Brooklyn Half: 25,610 finishers
- One America 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in Indianapolis: 25,524 finishers
- Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon: 25,227 finishers
It’s all part of the distance’s seismic growth. Competitor.com reports that the annual number of half-marathon finishers topped 2 million for the first time in 2014 with 2,046,637 finishers. Just 25 years ago, a mere 303,000 people squeaked across a 13.1-mile finish line in 1990. That same year the Brooklyn Half Marathon had just 1,523 finishers.
Now in its 35th year, the race has a new title—the Airbnb Brooklyn Half—and new accompanying kids races. The NYRR Kids’ Boardwalk Run took children ages 7 to 18 on a one-mile and-and-back run along the Coney Island Boardwalk, starting and finishing at the Airbnb Brooklyn Half finish line.
The 13.1-mile course took participants from the Brooklyn Museum, past Grand Army Plaza, through the borough’s bucolic Prospect Park and to the southern reaches of Brooklyn to finish on the boardwalk at Coney Island, where the after-party at MCU Park, home of the New York Mets’ affiliate Brooklyn Cyclones, bumped until 1 p.m.
I kicked off the Airbnb Brooklyn Half as one of the race announcers, and I have to say, it’s really impressive to see how long it takes more than 26,000 runners to clear the start.
The race began beside the Brooklyn Museum at 7:00 a.m. with two waves of runners. The last person started around 8:15 a.m.
But more impressive than the sheer number of people is how excited folks are at the beginning of their 13.1-mile journey. From my perch on the start stage, I saw thousands of waves, whoops, fist-pumps, and smiles. Sure, steely eyed and focused runners could be seen too. But the overwhelming emotion I saw was pure joy and excitement. It got me really excited to toe the line in a race again. Read the rest of this entry →