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JRunners Have a Lovely Day at the 2016 NYC Marathon

Posted on Nov 10, 2016 by in Musings | 0 comments

Oh, what a day…what a lovely day! A man named Nux said that once, ironically while barreling high-octane into the wild ride of his life.


Whereas last year the story was the oppressive heat, the story of this year’s race – the 46th running of the NYC Marathon – was the sheer perfection of the weather. Perfect at the start, perfect along the course, and perfectly comfortable for the spectators as well.


The 33rd staging of the International Marathon Minyan brought a healthy dose of great camaraderie, coupled with our valued partnership with minyan founder/retired Air Force JAG officer Peter Berkowsky and his wife Dolores, and assisted expertly by Chanan Feldman and Abe Piekarski. 30 brave, hardy souls (Exact same as the last three years! Not kidding!) – out of the 150 in attendance at the three minyanim (which makes the 30 so apropos!) – made a great show of it on the course.


Most interesting were the sheer numbers of NYC Marathons each of the runners has finished. It’s worth mentioning here. From most to hey-this-is-my-first-time-Woohoo!, the chart is as follows:


Ariel Kohane                      20

Martin Bodek                    18

Ruth Liebowitz                  11

Jonathan Gersch              10

Yossi Pancer                       9

Jennifer Gersch                 7

Dena Nierenberg             7

Matt Katz                            6

Eli Friedman                       5

Ari Platt                                4

Steven Weber                   4

David Tessler                     4

Rebecca Schwartz            3

David Roher                       3

Lesley Schofield                3

Mordechai Ovits               2

Yossi Cohn                          2

Jonathan Hook                  2

Gene Sobol                        2

Solomon Babani               2

Stanley Mayerfeld           2

David Balassiano               2

Mandy Rosenberg           2

Shmuel Weisz                    1

Moshe Kaufman              1

Nissim Bussu                      1

Chaya Goldberg                  1

Joseph Balassiano            1

Yossie Leff                          1

Heshy Gotesman             1


Many of the runners earned virtual awards for their great, gutsy performances. You can get one by googling the award name, grabbing the first picture that comes up, and having it 3D printed at Target (I think that’s how it works). They break down as follows:


The Ghirmay Ghebreslassie Men’s Race First Place Award: Ari Platt. His time was 2:47:48. We haven’t had a runner go sub-2:50 for a quite a long while. The closest anyone has come is Ari himself, when he went 2:50:01 at Boston last year. Next closest was Steven Rosenbaum’s 2:50:05 at NYCM 2010. Even more astonishing is that Ari told Yours Truly before the race that his goal was 2:48:00. Way to nail it, bro!


The Lucas Rotich Men’s Race Second Place Award: Eli Friedman. Eli slashed three more minutes off his already impressive PR, which he previously set last year following a loss of 25 lbs, a change to his diet, and a move to the city. What’d he do to lop off more minutes this time? Well, from Dean Karnazes’ Facebook page, it looked like Eli used him as a rabbit. Smart! Also, he was the fastest of 15 Friedmans on the course, and I like to research the common surnames of our finishers, to see how we did with any runner who had at least four others with the same name on the course. I’m like this. It’s how I roll:


Friedman: 1st out of 15.

Katz: 1st out of 10.

Schwartz: 3rd out of 22.

Weber: 5th out of 21.

Cohn: 1st out of 6.

Hook: 1st out of 4.

Leff: 1st out of 4.

Kaufman: 3rd out of 8.

Goldberg: 10th out of 24.

Rosenberg: 11th out of 12.


Pretty excellent results!


The Abdi Abdirahman Men’s Race Third Place Award: Mordechai Ovits. Mordechai took it chill, disguised as Joe Satriani, and wound up finishing in the Friedman/Karnazes pace group. He also pulled off what must be a first: stopping his watch at the finish while fully in mid-air. Check it out:


The Mary Keitany Women’s Race First Place Award: Rebecca Schwartz. Rebecca is a busy woman. This was her 9th marathon of the rolling year, in addition to two 50Ks, a 100k, and two 24-hour races, in which she ran 100 and 105 miles (exclamation point – or as the kids now say: shout mark). She’s hurtin’, but there’s nothing some KT tape and Aleve can’t cure, am I right?


The Sally Kipyego Women’s Race Second Place Award: Lesley Schofield. Lesley is a warrior, Runs for the Warriors, and travels like a warrior: This year, she’s run marathons in NY, NJ, IL, and KWA. What’s that? The South African province where she ran Comrades, baby! And oh, she’s got PA lined up in a few weeks. This was her 10th marathon overall. Nobody stop her.


The Molly Huddle Women’s Race Third Place Award: Dena Nierenberg. Dena, record holder of various JRunners female records, polished off her running shoes and ran NYCM for the 7th time, and put in a nice bronze medal performance.


The Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award:  Shmuel Weisz. Shmuel has a lot of running under his belt, but this was his first marathon, and he absolutely trained properly for it. He placed 5th among the field of 30 JRunners. Now that’s quite impressive.


The Tracy Reid Rookie of the Year Award:  Hey, we have no rookies among the female ranks this year. That’s interesting. Okay, we give Mandy Rosenberg The Chamique Holdsclaw Sophomore of the Year Award.


The Derek and Jim Redmond The Family Who Runs Together Stays Together Award. David and Joseph Balassiano. Allow me to have David tell you the story himself, as seen on Instagram:


davidb18 This picture wants to make me cry. Not because I was at mile 24 in an incredible amount of pain. It was because if you look at Joe’s left hand. He was pushing me while we were running. LITERALLY PUSHING me for the last 7-8 miles with his hand and body. The most amazing son.

beth_warren Worth it for the pic!

meredith0207 I’m crying!!!! @davidb18

cherisrour  <emojis that don’t translate well in this editor, but they were cute>

blossumbleuT hat is beautiful!!!!

Michelelevy I promise I have tears in my eyes. Beautiful.

Sherryez No words <emojis that don’t translate well in this editor, but they were cute>

Thedishmaster This is great

betty_greenberg So proud!!




The Francisco Liriano Comeback Player of the Year Award. Yossi Pancer. After a series of injuries and frustrations, Yossi peeled himself off the bench, put his foot on the start line and proceeded to negative split a 4:05 stunner in his 9th NYCM. We asked him how he pulled it off. He swears it was undertraining. Sure, we’ll try that. I wonder if we’ll get the same results.


First of the Dynasty Ba’al HaTanya Award: This award is given to the first Lubavitcher – from an always large contingent – to cross the finish line. Strangely, we didn’t have any identifiable ones among the group this year. We’ll go ahead and give it to that Lubavitch band who rocked out hard in Queens at the 15th mile. Boy, they brung it.


Psalm 98 Joy to the World Award: Adam Orlow. Adam won this award the past three years due to his various expressions of joy, positivity, and gratitude. It’s a chazakah now, and even if it wasn’t, it’s kind of like the Gold Glove Award. Once a guy earns a couple, he’s in for life, no matter what upstart might show up. However, he didn’t run NYCM this year, so this serves as a placeholder for next year.


The Black Eyed Peas Time of my Life Award: Martin Bodek. I gave myself this award the past three years and I’m doing so again, because I had a great time again, and I can do whatever I want with these awards, so nyah nyah. But seriously, I loved hanging out with my JRunners friends and loved having my family along the course again (I just counted: 12!). This is my way of giving a big, fat thank you to everyone, and an even bigger, fatter hug. I love you all.


The Robert Downey Jr. Ironman Award: David Roher. If it looks like Ironman, is an Ironman, and dresses like Ironman on Purim and at Comic Con, then it’s Ironman. Ever seen David? There is no doubt whose pic he should be using on Facebook’s Doppelganger Day. He suited up as Tony Stark’s alter ego again for the race and had tons of runners ask to take a pic with him. After the race, he went for his post-race meal at Mocha Bleu in Teaneck. The manager asked if he ran with that outfit. David said yes. The manager said dessert is on the house.


The Evanescence Bring Me Back to Life Award: Yossie Leff. This award is given annually to the runner who endures the worst beatdown, but perseveres and finishes anyway. It is AKA The Timex Takes a Licking and Keeps on Ticking Award. Yossie dealt with a busted ankle and knee, but ran through it all anyway to finish under four hours. Way to tough it out!


Our finishers came in as follows:


First Last Time
Ari Platt 2:47:48
Eli Friedman 3:23:03
Mordechai Ovits 3:23:29
Matt Katz 3:31:45
Shmuel Weisz 3:33:07
Rebecca Schwartz 3:37:47
Steven Weber 3:38:23
Yossi Cohn 3:36:19
Heshy Gotesman 3:40:47
Jonathan Hook 3:43:48
Gene Sobol 3:49:10
Solomon Babani 3:53:40
Stanley Mayerfeld 3:53:40
Yossie Leff 3:55:51
Moshe Kaufman 3:57:01
Nissim Bussu 4:01:04
Yossi Pancer 4:05:16
Chaya Goldberg 4:21:44
Martin Bodek 4:35:07
David Tessler 4:41:31
Lesley Schofield 5:04:50
David Balassiano 5:09:44
Dena Nierenberg 5:14:00
Jonathan Gersch 5:24:02
David Roher 5:24:06
Mandy Rosenberg 5:42:10
Joseph Balassiano 6:29:27
Jennifer Gersch 6:43:51
Ruth Liebowitz 7:00:57
Ariel Kohane 9:06:33


Congratulations everyone!


After the finish line, JRunners scored another coup yet again: The Shearith Israel Synagogue AKA the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue AKA The Oldest Jewish Congregation in New York City was used as the dropoff stop for everyone’s tefillin and for non-stop round-robin Mincha Minyanim.


What a great, fun, inspiring day for our club. We grabbed the sun, and rode into Valhalla!


Martin is a biblioholic. It’s so bad, he writes them while he waits for his favorite authors to come out with their next books. He’s got a fever, and the only prescription is when you enjoy his output:,

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