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The 2015 JOTY Awards

Posted on Jan 13, 2016 by in Musings | 0 comments

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for joining us this evening as we present our JRunner Of The Year (that’s what JOTY stands for; betcha didn’t know that) awards for the 2015 running year. We’re honoring the top 12 this year, because #11 deserves some props, and we can’t leave him unmentioned on the basis of a single point. Also, #12 done did good too, and there’s plenty of awards to go around. This isn’t an awards show that’s televised, and we have no time or space constraints. The orchestra won’t cut off any of your acceptance speeches.

And so, passing right by the joke-monologue phase of this evening’s events (though, obviously, I already tried a few), I present you with the undisputed heavyweight (figuratively speaking) champion of the world, Matt Katz, who reclaims the JOTY crowns he earned before Joel Mandel went back-to-back the past two years.

The history of the award is now as follows:

2010: Matt Katz                                             40 points

2011: Matt Katz                                             67 points

2012: Steven Weber/Yaakov Bressler     73 points

2013: Joel Mandel:                                      95 points

2014: Joel Mandel                                       79 points

2015: Matt Katz                                             111 points

It shook out in a pretty fascinating way over the last month. Matt, Joel, Elik Hirsch, and Rebecca Schwartz were all bunched up together at the top.

Then Matt got wind of these Open Runs available in Brooklyn, and actually won some of them, choosing the Marine Park option (yes, they’re official races, covering all criteria):

Then Joel got wind of what Matt was doing, chose the Brooklyn Bridge Park option, and did pretty well himself!

Then Elik contacted the JRunners Sports Bureau and helped fill in some missing races on the JOTY chart, and vaulted all the way near the top.

Then Rebecca clambered over them all with her 100.78-mile run in Arizona at Across The Years, and took the lead on the chart by 2 points!

Then it came down to one last gasp attempt at getting to the top for the season: The final Open Run at Brooklyn Bridge Park, on the last day of the year, at 7 PM. Joel placed third, Matt ran with his son, and placed lower, and the crown was Joel’s for a day before Matt took a closer look at his accomplishments for the year, and found enough races to include on the chart, enough to catapult him to the top for his 3rd crown in 6 years.

Congratulations Matt, please walk this way to be presented with your award, and be sure to congratulate your fellow awardees as well. Don’t let success get to your head. Stage left is the exit. This should be familiar to you by now, if just a drop rusty.

Like last year’s edition, I will include the awards, the awardee’s name, the points (s)he earned, and some highlights. I hope that the award names themselves will encapsulate why each awardee received the award (s)he did. I tried to include elements of the runners’ accomplishments in the past year, along with a dash (pun intended – always) of their personalities.

Now then:

The Woody Allen Eighty Percent of Success is Showing Up Award: Matt Katz, 111 points. Matt didn’t just run the 2nd most races among JRunners this year (22! See the full chart – and more – here:, he also ran them strategically: from finding choice Mostly Marathons, to participating in short Open Runs and winning a pile of them, he took maximum advantage. He acted like he wanted his crown back. It wasn’t acting. Highlights: winner, Oh Boy Marathon, Old Colony Marathon, three Open Run races; 8 marathons, more than anybody else.

The Mad Max (or Rather, Imperator Furiosa) Road Warrior Award: Rebecca Schwartz, 104 points. She ranked higher and scored more points than any other female JRunner before. Highlights: Winner, Two Rivers Marathon; Course-record smasher with 68 miles on the NJ One Day Trail Series 12-hour option; Those 100.78 miles mentioned above.

The Muhammad Ali Floats Like a Butterfly, Stings Like a Bee Award: Joel Mandel, 103 points. Joel runs with a smooth stride, is a killer, and can turn in great performances even when he’s not at this best, so he gets this appropriately-named award again. Highlights: Nobody ran more (25 races!), or placed higher more frequently at NYRR races (4 times!), or ever ran a mile faster (4:54), or was more the life of the party at the relay, or in any race in which he finds himself, or heck, just walking down the street.

The Ann Trason It Hurts Up to a Point and Then it Doesn’t Get Any Worse Award: Elik Hirsch, 96 points. Highlights: Pick one. His 3rd and 4th belt buckles (you know what belt buckles imply, right?)? His 5 marathons? His 13 races of marathon distance or longer (Gold Level Maniac!)? Have at it.

The Fred Devito If It Doesn’t Challenge You, It Doesn’t Change You Award: Mordechai Ovits, 88 points. He’s now outrun his own treadmill, and is always looking for ways to improve, as evidenced by…Highlights: Utter domination of his peers in nearly every race in which he participated. He took 1st in 5 races, completely destroyed the competition in two of his relay legs, took 1st on his run leg of the Westchester Tri, placed 6th at the Festival of Lights half, half-Ironed again, set the NYRR Tune-Up record at 1:57:04, and really, just kept right on going…

The Haruki Murakami If You’re Young and Talented, It’s Like You Have Wings Award: Efraim Shaw, 68 points. Hachosson Hamiflig Hayekor Hagaon “Effie” ran the fewest races of the top 12 placers (10), but kicked so much butt in all of them that he ranked this high. Highlights: How about I just list the races he won? That’ll be more than enough to paint his story for the year: Al Goldstein 5k (in which he set the JRunners 5k record at 16:15), Toga Duathlon (repeat champion!), Prospect Park Duathlon, and Passaic Chanukah 5k. What will he destroy next?

The Rocky Balboa That’s How Winning Is Done Award: Moishie Gamss, 68 points. Though he tied Shaw for points, he ranks lower because Excel said so. Excel knows best. I don’t argue with Excel. Highlights: Ran his first ever ultra, but where he earned his points was at the Open Runs (that Matt didn’t attend). He flat out won four of ‘em!

The Judd Apatow This is 40 Award: Martin Bodek, 58 points. Adam Orlow won this last year, because he had a very good year. Martin wins this year because he had a good year too! Who’s 39 and wants this next year? Highlights: Finished his 23rd, 24th, and 25th lifetime marathons, ran 40 miles on his 40th birthday, ran his 4th and 5th ultra, eclipsed 1,000 miles in training for the first time.

The Andrew W.K. It’s Time to Party Award: Yisroel Pupko, 48 points. If Pupsie and Mandel ever showed up at a party together, a rift would open in the universe and it would explode. Highlights: among the many places Yisroel brought his bleeding nipples, mooning buttocks, and jovial personality to were a couple of marathons, a 12-hour run, and 3 Half-Ironmans, which is believed to be a new JRunners record.

The Malcolm Forbes Presence Is More Than Just Being There Award: Scott Smith, 47 points. Highlights: Scott jumped in to every unsanctioned JRunners race that we staged, and won or placed among JRunners at NYRR races more times than anyone else (6!).

The Cake He’s Going the Distance, He’s Going for Speed Award: Dov Gertzulin, 46 points. Wherever he went, he went fast, and usually faster than most. Highlights: Of his 4 half marathons, 2 were the fastest any JRunner clocked for the year (1:20:47 and 1:22:01), and another was the 6th fastest; his marathon was third fastest of the year (2:51:29); his team won the relay; he PRed almost everything (marathon, half marathon, 10k, 4m, and 5k; but the biggest highlight of them all might just be the 30 miles he put in with Scott Jurek on his amazing Appalachian Trail record attempt.

The Judd Apatow That Was 40 Award: Adam Orlow, 41 points. Adam dispatched himself quite honorably in his first year as a Master. Highlights: 5 marathons – including a fantastic negative split at Brookyln – and 2,015 miles run in 2,015, which required him to run 65 miles over the last 5 days to make sure he accomplished what he set out to do at the beginning of the year.

The Victor Hugo Perseverance, Secret of all Triumphs Award: JRunners ran a Mile-A-Day Streaker Challenge contest in 2015. We started with 13 runners and at the end of the year, four among us were left standing, or running. They are: Elik Hirsch, Moishie Gamss, Shmuly Engelman, and Judy Fischmann, 400,000 points. Not only did they complete 365 consecutive days of running, but each and every one of them signed up for our 2016 challenge and have been carrying on. Wow. It should be noted that Elik is the lone figure to have completed both the Streaker Challenge and the 2,015 in 2015 Challenge (and yes, we’re doing a 2,016 in 2016 too. See all of it here:,

The Let’s Give These Guys a Round of Applause for Dedicating Themselves to the Continued Nurturing of the JRunners Club, and Keeping Things Humming Along, Despite Various Hurdles that Would Buckle those Less Determined Award: Matt Katz, Saul Rosenblum, Yaakov Bressler, Hershy Mandel, Connie Fried, Aaron Panigel, Esther Panigel, Liam Unger, Keith Sanders, Joe Bootin, and members of the board, 1,000,000 points. Highlights: Relay, streaker challenge, 2,016 in 2016 challenge, bi-weekly time trials, upcoming Virtual Jerusalem Marathon, with more to come.

And there you have it folks. We had a very successful 2015, and we’re looking forward to a runderful™ 2016.

Martin Bodek,

Beat Reporter,

Martin writes books. He’s really pushing his latest one (, because he thinks it’s really good. That’s because it is.

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