50K Bridge Run July 11
> The Broadway Ultra Society's (BUS) 50K Bridge Run held on July 11 was my initiation into
> ultra-marathoning on the streets of a major city. Although I was born in Brooklyn, grew up on
> Staten Island and had run in three NYC Marathons and a 6 hour run in Clove Lakes Park on Staten
> Island, nothing in my urban running career had prepared me for running all by myself along the
> lower Manhattan and Brooklyn waterfronts. 
> Fifty (50) entrants to the Bridge Run gathered around our Race Director Richie Innamorato at 7
> AM on July 11 in Astoria Park, Queens as he told us of some special ground rules about the
> race's route and how we should conduct ourselves "in public" during the race (such as "only use
> Porta-Potties"). Astoria Park is near the East River, a few miles west of LaGuardia Field and
> practically underneath the Triboro Bridge. It would be our destination today. We boarded a
> school bus Rich had leased beforehand and after crossing the Triboro, we bounced from pothole to
> pothole along the upper west side of Manhattan, then crossed the George Washington Bridge to the
> New Jersey side. After  disembarking from our bus (and using the Porta-Potties) we all gathered
> around Vinnie once more and listened to his cautions about avoiding head-on collisions with
> bicyclists this morning, many of whom were hell-bent on setting a record for the fastest bicycle
> crossing ever on the bridge. I had brought a throw-away cardboard camera with me so some of us
> who are racing-challenged could pause from from time to time in the bright morning sunshine to
> record this momenteous event on film. 
> Our starting line was behind a narrow gate leading to the pedestrian and bicycle path on the
> south side of the upper deck of the bridge. After a few photo-ops crossing the bridge, fellow
> Wolfpit clubmember Al Toth from Westport and I turned south at 179th street and ran on quiet,
> tree (and apartment) shaded local streets to Riverside Drive. After four or five miles of
> sidewalk-running along the Drive, we crossed a footbridge over the West Side Drive to a
> running/walking path along the Hudson River. We passed to the west of the Manhattanville,
> Morningside Heights, Manhattan Valley, and Upper West Side neighborhoods. We also ran by a
> "fleet" of expensive-looking pleasure yachts moored in the Hudson. I stopped to take another
> photo. About mile 8 we reached the West 40s and the start of a series of piers that were used by
> large ocean liners. I recalled that in my youth I used to see the Queen Mary and the beautiful
> French liner, the Normandie tied up along- side them.  
> Just before the ocean liners (I'm showing my age, they're called cruise ships today) we ran by
> Pier 92, my first port of call on the east coast after I returned from North Island, San Diego.
> Our squadron was disbanded there in September 1945. I didn't have enough "points" to be
> discharged until late December when I boarded an overloaded passenger train heading east, having
> volunteered for shore patrol duty to get back there. I arrived at the pier on Christmas Eve in
> 1945, after standing up all the way from St. Louis on a grossly-overloaded Pennsylvania Railroad
> passenger train. The train was packed with servicemen. Some were were sleeping in the ailes on
> their seabags and luggage. One sailor slept on the toilet in the men's room. He was frequently
> awakened. I recall that we started partying before we left the station in San Diego. It
> continued through the midwest and on ot the east coast. Despite a painful hangover, the next day
> was a very Merry Christmas for me at the Dolen homestead on Staten Island. 
> Where was I? Oh yes, Al and I were plodding south on a bike path in midtown Manhattan. Al got
> tired of plodding and speeded up. At 40th street I passed the WWII Essex class carrier, the
> Intrepid. She been patched up and painted after receiving major battle damage and personnel
> casualties from a flight of Japanese kamikazi's off Okinawa near the end of the war.
Many of her
> crew were killed and buried at sea. Mayor Ed Koch had led the campaign to restore her and tie
> her up to a Hudson river pier. She has proven to be a major tourist attraction. Her flight and
> hanger decks are crammed with a variety of jet and WWII piston-engined planes, including, I
> recall from an earlier visit, a TBM Avenger, the type of torpedo bomber I had flown in. It was
> around 9AM and a line of visitors to the ship was just beginning to form in the warm morning
> sunlight. After taking a few more photos I continued plodding through newly built landscaped bicycling and
> walking paths that extend all the way to Battery Park at the South Ferry terminal where one can
> catch a FREE ferry to Staten Island and back. After rounding the tip of Manhattan I walked and
> jogged along the race route along the East River and by the South Street Seaport. Two
> magnificent "tall ships" were tied up to its piers. Time for more photographs. I then passed
> under the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and turned west to Fulton Street. After a few blocks I
> reached the pedestrian ramp of the Williamsburg Bridge. I crossed it into Brooklyn, having
> another bout of nostalgia while on the bridge. In 1950 while newly married to Betty and going to
> Wagner College on Staten Island I had a summer job shovelling  concrete in a paving gang. We
> were re-paving the bridge's roadways. Obviously sensing this familiar environment, my arms and
> hands suddenly started  aching after all these years. At least the perceived pain took my mind
> off the real pain my feet and legs for a while. As I neared the Brooklyn side, I glanced down at
> the decrepid East River shoreline. I began to ponder whether it was wise to run by myself along
> the deserted waterfront all the way up to the 59th St. (Queensboro) bridge, a few miles away. I
> didn't see another runner ahead or behind me and hadn't seen any at all since a young woman who
> had started late zoomed me near Battery Park. I hoped she caught up with somebody because this
> waterfront area was really deserted. By now the sun was almost overhead and it was quite warm
> although the humidity was surprisingly low Once I reached the Brooklyn side of the bridge and
> all its ramshackle warehouses and rotten piers On the Waterfront I began to think what I'd do if
> I encountered the ghost of Marlon Brando striding along the deserted waterfront with a baling
> hook slung over his shoulder.
> After descending from the bridge, I ambled, albeit at a swifter amble, along the race route
> parallel to the East River up to the Koskiusco Bridge. I recall that this bridge was about mile
> 13 in the NYC Marathon. The marathon used an avenue a few blocks to the east and not near the
> river. Our route took us along a deserted waterfront full of decaying piers and empty warehouses
> that were on their last legs, or rather on their last pilings. (Tip: With your spare cash buy up
> real estate along the Brooklyn side of the East River north of the Williamsburg.) It's about the
> only waterfront adjacent to Manhattan that hasn't yet been gentrified. 
> I had been running on the sidewalk all morning seeking some shade but noon was approaching so I
> had no escape from the hot sun. After a few miles, we headed inland in order to cross Newtown
> Creek on the Koskiusco. Soon after it was time to ascend the ramp (or stairs, I've forgotten
> which) on the north side of Queensboro (59th st.) Bridge. The views of the upper east side of
> Manhattan were spectacular. After another photo-op I next walked/jogged up First Avenue, then
> ran eastward to a foot bridge over the East Side Drive to the running/walking path that is right
> next to the river. Once on the path, I could let my eyes wander and I marveled at the
> beautifully landscaped gardens, shrubbery and trees. They extended almost all the way to our
> next bridge destination, the footbridge over to Randall's Island. Hundreds of city apartment
> dwellers were sunbathing on the grass (I was letting my eyes wander over some of them too) or
> sitting on benches and enjoying the scene, reading (I wished I could join them.) or sauntering
> along the path bordering the river.
> After about an hour of sauntering all by myself I reached the foot bridge to Randall's Island.

> There were dozens of family picnics under the shade of the island's magnificent trees. At last,
> some shade for runners too!  I could also smell greasy hamburgers cooking over charcoal fires. I
> felt like throwing up but it could have also been the pace, not the grease. After circling the
> island I headed west for about a mile until I found a stairway that led to the sidewalk on our
> next bridge destination, the Triboro. The sidewalk led along the north side of the bridge which
> in turn, led to Queens and mercifully, to the finish. As usual, pedestrian entrances and exits
> to the bridge involved going far inland so when I finally could get off the bridge, I still had
> about a half mile to go to Astoria Park with its shady trees and treats awaiting me as I crossed
> the finish line. BTW, I hadn't seen another runner since that lone gal zoomed by me near Battery
> Park, about 15 miles ago.
> It wasn't long before I spotted the finish line. Vinnie and the Broadway Ultra Society had gone
> overboard in supplying drinks and treats to the finishers. I munched chips, pretzels and
> sandwiches and slurped soda for an hour before braving the Sunday traffic on the Grand Central
> Parkway, the Whitestone Bridge and the roads to home in Ridgefield CT. 
>  I've been running for about thirty years and I cannot recall ever having such a spectacular
> urban run. It even beats the Marine Corps Marathon for spectacular scenery. But of course, I'm a
> prejudiced ex-New Yorker. Besides staging the run through the world's most striking urban
> environment, Vinnie had found friendly and experienced people who staffed the aid stations. They
> must have all been ultramarathon runners or their spouses because they always knew what to say
> to a tired runner and when to say it. In fact, it was all I could do to tear myself away from
> their friendly conversation and slog off to yet another aid station. After a few minutes when I
> began to think about the treats awaiting me at the next aid station, my lagging spirits were
> once more revived.                              
> Frank Dolen