Running with Ruth

Stories that Inspire & Motivate...Not for New Runners Only! By Ruth Gursky


MORE for Women 40+


Article 4:
MORE For Women 40+

If you’re a female runner who can recall where you were when JFK was shot; and if you watched the Beatles perform live on the Ed Sullivan Show and waited impatiently for their White Album (not its re-mastered CD) to be released, then you could’ve participated in the More Marathon and Half-Marathon held in Central Park on March 21, 2004!

These races – the first-ever “just” for women over the age of 40 - were co-sponsored by More Magazine and the NY Road Runners Club and drew about 3,000 runners, including many out-of- towners and first-time long distance runners!

Personally, I find it really special to run a women’s-only race. For me, these rare events offer a friendlier, less competitive atmosphere, with opportunities for fun and joking around…at least, from my vantage point (at the back-of-the-pack)! For example, at about mile 6, we passed a man standing at the side of the roadway, holding a sign: “You Don’t Look A Day Over 29!” When I saw his sign, I called out: “I’m better now than at age 29!” Several women near me laughed and called out their agreement with my comment. At about mile 11, a runner who was wearing earphones and singing (off-key) along with her walkman, shouted out loud and proud: “I’m 52 years old!” What motivated her outburst, I haven’t a clue – but it caused lots of laughs and a few “woo-hoos” from those of us running near her! Now, can you imagine this happening in a co-ed race – ever?!

OK – so, enough about the mood of the race – what about the race itself? Let me start by saying that I made a pledge to myself 4 years ago, after running the 2000 Manhattan ½ Marathon, that I’d never run 2 full loops of Central Park again. Well, as my parents always warned me: “Never say never!” - ’cuz along comes this special race, which I felt compelled to register for as my way of encouraging More Magazine and NYRRC to continue sponsoring events like this for my age-group. So here I am, once again, lining up to run 2 loops of the park! And it’s up and down the “rolling” west side hills, then up-up-up and finally down the infamous and seemingly endless Harlem Hill and then up and down the “rolling” east side hills till I return to the starting point…when, somehow, from somewhere deep within myself, I must find and ignite that spark that’ll allow me to do it all over again…culminating in the final muscle-ripping uphill sprint to the finish line! What a great sense of accomplishment – and a shiny medal, to boot! Woo-hoo!

As I reached inside myself for the strength to conquer those last few hills – and questioned, once again, my sanity for having signed up for this race - one thought kept percolating in my brain: that when I am finally finished running the ups and downs of Central Park’s multitudinous hills, there would still be some poor gals out there - running the marathon - who have 13.1 more miles to go! And in my imagination, I envision that by the time they reach that magic line, I’d be sitting with my legs stretched out in front of me, drinking my iced hazelnut decaf and biting into my second Krispy Kreme donut ! (No, I didn’t actually allow myself that forbidden treat - in reality, I had a grilled veggie sandwich and OJ - but thinking about what I’m gonna devour after I’m finished usually keeps me going in the final stretch!)
As for the marathon itself (which I didn’t do – I ran the 1/2), I have 5-words to say: “5 loops of the park!” Now, the majority of non-runners truly believe that the majority of long distance runners are lunatics! And I guess to some extent, we are! But as a 5-time marathon finisher and regular Central Park runner, I feel I’ve earned the right to opine that anyone who feels the need to run 5 hilly loops of Central Park (the original course for the NYC Marathon in the early 70’s before being replaced by the 5-borough course) is truly “crazy” and deserves the aches and pains that are sure to follow! As my Mom used to say, as she shook her head in disbelief and admonition after I told her about my latest race or long training run: “Mishiggah” (“crazy” in Yiddish)!

So, that’s all there is to report, my friends! In a nutshell: a great race! Great weather (cool and sunny)! Great crowd support (it’s always fun to see husbands and kids cheering on wives and moms) offering us encouragement along the course! Great goodie bags (including More magazine and a water bottle holder)! And best of all, great treats at the finish line – and a new medal to add to my collection!

I’ve heard that More Magazine and NYRRC intend to make this an annual event – let’s hope they take it a step further and offer it in cities across the country! I say: Let’s do MORE for women 40+!!