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JRunners Have a Rainy, Energetic, Photobomby Day at the 2017 NYC Marathon

Posted on Nov 15, 2017 by in Musings | 0 comments

JRunners Have a Rainy, Energetic, Photobomby Day at the 2017 NYC Marathon


 Martin Bodek


Every iteration of the NYC Marathon has its own flavor. Two years ago, it was the heat. Last year, it was the perfection. This year, it was the rain, which didn’t bring us down (Grrrroos!), and also, we photobombed the death out of the live broadcast. Super Spotter Yossi Pancer found us all (and found his own kids on TV waiting for him along the course!). Great work, Yossi!

The 34th 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 Bill Greenbaum, Yisroel Davidsohn, Mendel Rosenfeld, and Mendy Katzman of Chabad of Staten Island. 30 brave, hardy souls (Exact the same as the last *four* years! Not kidding!) – out of the 150 (from ten states and seven countries!) in attendance at the four (new PR by one!) minyanim – 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 21
Martin Bodek 19
Judith Sambol 15
Ruth Liebowitz 12
Jonathan Gersch 11
Yossi Pancer 10
Jennifer Gersch 8
Matt Katz 7
Eli Friedman 6
Steven Rosenbaum 6
Ari Platt 5
Steven Weber 5
Isaac Galena 4
David Roher 4
Rebecca Schwartz 4
Shaina Nemtzov 3
Mordechai Ovits 3
Yisroel Pupko 3
Gene Sobol 3
Stanley Mayerfeld 3
Shaindy Dahan 2
Moishie Gamss 2
Shmuel Weisz 2
Joe Bergovoy 1
Sonia Blejer 1
Shmuly Engelman 1
Seth Galena 1
Yecheskiyahu Herz 1
Jamey Kohn 1
Moti Siegman 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 Geoffrey Kamworor Men’s Race First Place Award: Ari Platt. His time was 2:49:41, beating out 2nd place by six whole seconds, to repeat as JRunners front runner. That’s two straight sub-2:50s at NYCM, and we think that’s a first. Amazing. Also, he was the fastest of 7 Platts on the course, and, as I do annually, 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:

Platt: 1st out of 7.

Katz: 1st out of 16

Friedman: 2nd out of 15.

Weber: 2nd out of 21.

Schwartz: 3rd out of 22.

Weisz: 3rd out of 4.

Pretty excellent results!

The Wilson Kipsang Men’s Race Second Place Award: Steven Rosenbaum. Steven returned for his 6th NYC and set a marathon PR by 18 seconds. His times are going uphill, when he’s supposed to be going over the hill. Extremely impressive.

The Lelisa Desisa Men’s Race Third Place Award: Moishie Gamss. Moishie took advantage of his freebie this year when he grabbed one of the three available slots for club members previously rejected by the lottery. He done good, and thanks to his efforts, led JRunners to 58th place amongst 99 official teams at the race.

The Shalane Flanagan Women’s Race First Place Award: Rebecca Schwartz. Rebecca repeats as champion, at a distance one quarter of what she’s capable (no, seriously, she has the longest run on record for any JRunner ever: 105 miles). So this was easy peasy. She also ran for Team OHEL. Go Rebecca!

The Mary Keitany Women’s Race Second Place Award: Judith Sambol Rosenbaum. Judith and hubby Steven both took silver for the day. Impressive. Even more impressive is that she’s now done 15 NYCs, most among JRunners females. The couple has 21 finishes together, which is probably a record too.

The Mamitu Daska Women’s Race Third Place Award: Shaindy Dahan. To earn bronze, Shaindy eclipsed her inaugural NYCM from last year by 8 whole minutes. Nice going!

The Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award: Joe Bergovoy. Joe joined JRunners first at this year’s relay, and this was his first ever marathon. Nice start to his long-distance career, beating all other 7 JRunner NYCM newcomers. May he go from strength to strength!

The Tracy Reid Rookie of the Year Award: Sonia Blejer. Sonia has run marathons all over PA and NJ, and finally made it to NY with the best showing among female neophytes. She’s definitely going to return, making her the frontrunner for The Chamique Holdsclaw Sophomore of the Year Award.

The Francisco Liriano Comeback Player of the Year Award. Yossi Pancer. Two years ago, 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. This year, he upped himself, finishing at an astonishing 3:42. That crazy difference in time makes him eligible for the award again. We asked him how he pulled it off. He swears he undertrained again, despite “upping” his training to once a week. Sure, we’ll try that. I wonder if we’ll get the same results. But man, if this guy ran twice a week? Watch out.

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. We had plenty who looked one, but weren’t (Engelman, Siegman). Turns out, it’s Shaindy Dahan! Yechi! Adoneinu!

The Rabbi Aryeh Leibowitz HashGachah Pratis Award: Eli Friedman. Eli finished in 3:26(:43). His bib number was 326(1). Wait, I’m not done. 326 is gematria “The (g)race of God.” No, I’m not kidding. Do it yourself. Also, his official chip time and his Garmin time was the exact same. Now if that isn’t Divine Intervention, I don’t know what is, because that’s the first time in recorded history that it happened, and it happened to Eli, which means, “My God”! OMG.

Psalm 98 Joy to the World Award: Adam Orlow. Adam won this award the three years prior to last year 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 last year or this year, so this serves as a placeholder for next year. He gets one more shot, before we have to surrender the spot. Even Davis Webb eventually has to get a chance. Know what I mean?

The Black Eyed Peas Time of my Life Award: Martin Bodek. I gave myself this award the past four 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, bumping into a load of them along the way, running alongside my good man Mordechai Ovits, and loved having my family along the course again (I just counted: 10!) with all the above braving the rain to be there. I also loved my MarathonFoto pics, where I appear fit and joyful, which makes me happy. 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 (five times over), 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. He also got all different kinds of press coverage. Check it out:

The Evanescence Bring Me Back to Life Award: Moishie Gamss. 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. This year, thankfully, nobody among us got hurt, but Moishie helped someone who was hurt. In his own words: “I was a mitzvah boy! At ~ mile 24 I saw a guy, apparently beyond his limit, down face first on 5th avenue, with a handful of people jumping over him or running around him. I stopped and helped him up.

Net loss: ~30-45 seconds

Net gain: ~Eternal heaven.”

Way to go!

The Harold and Ayelet Galena Heart on His Sleeve Award: Seth Galena. I love great writing. I love great, emotional writing even more. I love great, emotional, from-the-depth-of-one’s-heart writing the most: Running the NYC Marathon — With My Heart on My Sleeve

The Beyoncé He Liked It So He Put a Ring On it Award: Shaina Nemtzov. Shaina started off the day as single girl, ran the marathon as a single girl, crossed the finish line as a single girl, but that didn’t last any longer, because once she was over the line, her boyfriend Cecilio Gerard – who had finished the race earlier – congratulated her, got down on one knee like a man is supposed to, and asked for her hand in marriage, in front of millions on live TV. Check it out!: Boom! A kallah maidel! Just like that! Heckuva way to finish her race!

Our finishers came in as follows:


Ari Platt 2:49:41
Steven Rosenbaum 2:49:47
Moishie Gamss 2:58:11
Matt Katz 3:24:30
Eli Friedman 3:26:43
Steven Weber 3:27:21
Yossi Pancer 3:42:00
Rebecca Schwartz 3:52:32
Stanley Mayerfeld 3:53:24
Judith Sambol 3:54:12
Shaindy Dahan 3:55:08
Paul Kentor 4:00:00
Gene Sobol 4:14:35
Joe Bergovoy 4:20:10
Mordechai Ovits 4:20:52
Jamey Kohn 4:26:32
Yisroel Pupko 4:26:58
Shmuel Weisz 4:27:54
Sonia Blejer 4:31:09
Isaac Galena 4:38:17
Martin Bodek 4:56:12
Shmuly Engelman 5:02:40
Seth Galena 5:03:57
Shaina Nemtzov 5:07:55
Yecheskiyahu Herz 5:10:07
Moti Siegman 5:17:51
Jonathan Gersch 5:35:53
David Roher 5:36:51
Ariel Kohane 6:09:38
Jennifer Gersch 6:45:11
Ruth Liebowitz 8:48:17


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.

What a great, fun, inspiring day for our club. Rain shmain.

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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