Thursday, September 5, 2013

TGNY 100

  • June 29, 2013
  • 5AM start 
  • 100.4 miles through Greater New York 
  • 2,000 feet elevation gain
  • Terrain is easy
  • Aid Stations every 5 miles
  • 30-hour time limit
  • 35 starters and 21 finishers (60% of starters completed the 100M. There was also a drop down option to 100k but not sure how many used this)
  • Tommy Pyon 1st place for Men in 19 hours 36 minutes 
  • Sky Canaves 1st place for Women in 22 hours 49 minutes 
  • I finished in 25 hours 38 minutes for 10th place

The TGNY 100 started in Times Square and the tourists were still out from the night before sitting around at the tables. They were looking at the bright lights, LCD billboards and 50 ultrarunners with backpacks and superhero compression gear.

At 5AM we were off! We ran casually; talking and meeting one another. We passed a crew of Australians still wandering the city looking for another party. "Hey! What's going on ere?"

The competition starts early: Singing the national anthem with a jackhammer in the background.

The race passes a number of sites.

Page 1 of the Turn-by-Turn Directions

I really hoped we wouldn't need the turn-by-turn directions but it was obvious right away that we had to. Ultrarunners are an extremely friendly breed but for this race we might have been running in packs out of fear of getting lost!

Mile 16: I was running with Gray Weaver when we saw this man and woman walking a bear-sized-dog.
"Hi! Can I take a photo of your massive dog-bear?"

I didn't get a photo of the massive dog-bear but I would say this looks close enough. Or maybe its puppy.

Mile 32: I had completed the first third of the race in 5h 45m. I went out fast to get ahead of the 80 degree temperatures. The morning humidity was also in the 80% range and it did some real damage in those first few hours with blisters and chafing that I would deal with for the rest of the race.

On the section leading up to Mile 32 I had run out of water and the course was exposed to the sun. I was overheated and losing focus. Mori was working the aid station and offered to let me sit in his air conditioned car until I felt better.

While I was hydrating, cooling down and returning to normal I texted a status to my pacers with some good info for future runners "Heat and sun. Still on schedule but expect a slowdown. Really exposed so wear sunblock. All please go over turn by turn for your route. Definitely an exercise to stay on course."

Mile 32: Mori working the aid station probably saved my race


Leaving the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge from Randalls Island there was a huge swimming pool a hundred feet below on the left. Oh sweet torture.

Texting my pacers

Mile 40: The planes were buzzing over head to land at LaGuardia Airport. Very cool!

Mile 46: Exposed on the boardwalk I kept thinking about what an egg would feel like if it missed the frying pan and landing directly on a burner.

Mile 49-50: Just before Alley Pond Park I felt like I was way, way, far out in the suburbs. Large beautiful houses with green lawns? Is this close to the city?

Tanya, an ice cold Coke and a smile

Mile 51: Tanya and Vasili were my first pacers. By now I was 2 hours behind schedule and was feeling a little nauseous. I rolled into the aid station to see my friends patiently hanging out with a group of very helpful volunteers. 

I sat down, took 2 amino and started on a ginger drink to ease my stomach. Then I booted.

We headed out with Tanya was on her bike and Vasili running next to me. These two were well prepared with an ice cold Coke and also ice in a cooler transported in an insulated backpack. They even brought me a bandana so we could fill it with ice and tie it around my neck to keep my core temperature down. Yeah for awesome pacers! We left the park covered in shade and I was hoping that maybe the rest of the race would run between buildings and I could stay out of the sun. But that didn't happen.

Vasili had the directions practically memorized. Turn by turn he navigated us towards Mile 61. Tanya even made a special side trip to get more ice and more Coke.

Mile 58: We ran through Flushing Meadows Corona Park and there were people hanging out, barbecuing, dancing meringue and playing full field soccer matches. There was a ton of positive energy here and I would have been perfectly happy to run circles through this park for the remaining 42 miles.

Mile 62 with Mike and Vasili
Mile 62: Mike was my next pacer and waiting for me at the 100k aid station. He used his bike to pace since he ran the TARC 100 two weeks before and strained his foot running through the some seriously deep mud.

He brought me a pair of thin socks to change into because I made a tactical mistake and had on regular dual layer Drymax socks. I was thinking these would wick away moisture in the 80% humidity but they were too thick for the shoes and rubbed my toes raw in the first 30 miles. At 62 miles my feet didn't hurt so I decided to change into Mike's thin socks without looking at my feet. The blisters weren't hurting so I left the feet alone and this turned out to be the right thing to do. But it wasn't 100% perfect because later that night I was running and said to Mike "One of the blisters got so big that my toenail just slid out."

Mile 63: The distance in the turn-by-turn directions were a little off and we found ourselves at a T intersection with a parkway and nowhere else to go. We started backtracking on a remote street in the middle of nowhere and randomly ran into someone I used to work with.

Mike got me a Snow Cone. I wished for these so many times
during other 100's and it finally happened.  Thank you TGNY.

Mile 65: We made it to the aid station and the sun was going down. My friend Hing was pacing next also on a bike and had shown up at mile 70 early. Since it would have been a few hours before we got there Mike called him back to meet up with us.

Mile 65 had a great aid station that included wet sponges but like most aid station stops you can only think of what you should have done right after leaving. I should have used the sponges to cool off.

We were heading towards mile 70 and then I booted up the Gatorade I just drank.

Miles 67 to 74: The Rockaways were one of my favorite legs. As we ran towards these islands I kept thinking this isn't the NYC that I knew about. I could see ocean and sand ahead of us and the sun was setting. It was a good place to be.

Hing met us as we approached the bridge and he took point to scout out markers while Mike stayed with me. It was great to have friends pacing and this is one benefit of having a 100 in your backyard. Before ultras, the three of us played on the same soccer team for many,many years and it was named Balls to the Wall!!! Hing convinced me to run my first 5k in 2007 and I haven't stopped since.

The Rockaway boardwalk was a party the entire way. It was midnight and people were stumbling home from the bars while others were waiting to go out on midnight cruises. The place was packed and our sweaty asses were dodging between all of them.

Mile 74: I transformed into Zombie right around this mileage and started to fall asleep while running. I was listing left and right and had a lot of trouble staying awake.

My Ultraspire vest had a waterproof pill holder. The first time I reached into it I must have gotten some moisture inside. Since it is waterproof, the pocket trapped the water and turned my caffeine pills into a glob of mush! This was really unfortunate because I really could have used a caffeine pill . I took down some 5-Hour Energy instead and we ran to mile 75.

Any mention of food now was making me want to throw up. We left the mile 75 aid station and I booted hard anyway. I rallied for the third time and kept on going.

Mile 80: We hit up the aid station and there was a techno party going on in a nearby dome. There was also a massage chair for the runners but again I forgot to do what I needed to do while at the aid station. After we left I started thinking about how much I could use my shoulders rubbed in that massage chair.

Miles 81 to 83: Coney Island! Running on the boardwalk I was focused on the never ending, wood planks. Sure we were moving forward but now it was in slow motion. Slow motion as in the opening scene of Chariots of Fire.

Mile 85: For about 10-15 miles in Brooklyn we had to stop so I could sleep on the boardwalk benches for a few minutes and reset my brain. I also remember we had to run through sand on the sidewalk and then empty our shoes. Finally I remember the people hooking up for that entire length of boardwalk. It was pitch black in most of these places and Hing was still up front leading. He kept turning towards the dark shapes in the pitch black and would light them up with his 140 lumen headlamp. I was able to see the shocked expressions of the caught couples.

Mile 87: I struggled forward but kept falling asleep. I would slow down to a walk and Mike would unassumingly say "What's the reason for stopping? Sleep, chafing or legs?" It was a good question and it reminded me to keep moving forward.
Mike posted photos on Facebook whenever I took a 5 minute power nap. Thanks buddy.
You can see I mastered sleeping on the park benches

Mile 90: My last pacer Julian (also from the same soccer team years back) had been waiting patiently for
almost 3 hours before we arrived. The four of us stayed together and now I had completed my entourage that would help me to reach the finish. 

It was almost sunrise and now it was easier to fight off the sleep. It still happened but whenever I was a little sleepy I could keep awake by spraying my face with the water bottle. Julian asked for a sip of water and then confirmed my suspicion: it was water mixed with Gatorade. Awesome.

Mile 92: On 4th Ave. in Brooklyn some drunken idiots were chasing each other down the street to fight and we were hoping we wouldn't hear gunshots.

Julian was running with me and it helped. I tried to match his movements and keep on shuffling.

Julian and I arriving at Mile 95. Definitely feeling better than at Mile 90.

Mile 96: As we neared the Brooklyn Bridge the sun was rising over Manhattan. We headed across the bridge and had an incredible view of the city. Our peaceful stroll was interrupted by Ray K. and his pacers Cherie and Mary as they blew by us on the downhill. The girls slapped our asses as they passed. 

It was a gradual slope up towards the finish. At 6AM there were more cars on the road and we had to slow or even stop a few times before crossing. Only 40 blocks to go! I thanked my friends one more time and said one more time that I couldn't have done it without them.

We reached the finish line which was in front of Toys R' Us and dropped to do some pushups. Then we crashed in the chairs and cheered the other runners in.

Mike, Julian, Hing, Tanya and Vasili. Thank you.

Great buckle but this could use a giant gorilla. 

Link to TGNY 100 Movie

Advice for Future Runners

Leftover 2012 arrows. These saved me a few times when I couldn't find the surveyor's tape.
Running with the turn-by-turn directions is difficult. My advice would be to take the turn-by-turn maps and then hand mark any changes on the maps using the current year's turn-by-turn directions. I ran 20 miles of the race by myself and used the maps. I found these much easier to follow. The surveyor's tape is very difficult to find on the city streets. Please do keep in mind that this is an intentionally low key race so the course cannot be marked as clearly as a typical trail race.

Another bit of advice for future participants is that this is a hot and humid time of year and there is almost no cover from the sun. Don't hope there will be shade like I did!

The 100 mile distance is not the only challenge to expect as it is also on pavement and concrete. As I heard from a mentor "Running 100 miles on pavement is no joke". The lack of cover, the heat and humidity and the directions are all unique challenges combined on this course. And don't make the mistake I did and assume that with almost no elevation change this course is going to be fast and easy.  

Good luck this is definitely a great race and one way to make you feel like you have seen all of Greater New York!


  1. Cool report! I have often dreams of a water ice during an ultra, snow cones might even be better. Sorry I missed this one, looks like an adventure/sight seeing tour. May have to do this next year if they do it. Did anyone get mugged LOL! And you got your homeless, bench sleeping down to a science!

    1. Thanks AJ. If you have good mental prep that it will be a hot, exposed day then this is definitely a great race. Very unique since it is in and around a city and not only that but NYC!