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The 2016 JOTY Awards

Posted on Jan 10, 2017 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 2016 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, so when this gets e-mailed out to the Yahoo! group (yes, we still use one; gen-Xers started JRunners), feel free to blather on how great and grateful you are.

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; our winner is…lithe) champion of the world, Matt Katz, who goes back-to-back just five years after he first went back-to-back. It’s a back-to-back comeback!

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

2016: Matt Katz                                             121 points

It shook out in a pretty fascinating way over the last month, as it always does. Matt kept building on his lead by winning one NYRR Open Run after another ( without looking back. He was like Wayde van Keikerk with his huge lead in the 400 out of the 8th lane, en route to a world record.

Unbeknownst to him, Elik Hirsch was plotting a takeover by running a 100-miler on the last day of the season (In Tennessee! He now leads all JRunners with marathons or longer in 18 states!).

Once the smoke cleared, Matt nevertheless emerged as the victor by a mere 3 points! He won by going short, often. Elik placed 2nd by going long, at more normalish human intervals.

Matt is now the champion for 4 of the 7 years this award has been granted. That’s almost 100%!

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, or your legs. Stage left is the exit. This should be familiar to you by now. We haven’t changed venues.

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 Showing Up Is 80 Percent of Life Award: Matt Katz, 121 points. Matt didn’t just run the 2nd most races among JRunners this year (20! See the full chart – and more – here:, he also ran them strategically: from partaking in everything unsanctioned, to participating in short Open Runs and winning a pile of them, to doing well in the relay, in NYRR races, and “other” races (“Other” is now NYCRUNS), he took maximum advantage. He acted like he wanted to hold on to his championship belt. It wasn’t acting. Highlights: winner of seven Open Run races; another 2 marathons and a 50k to add to his lifetime total – which now stands at 34 races of marathon distance or longer; good for 4th among his JRunners peers. (Does the award name look familiar? I slightly repackaged it from last year after reading this: I’m a dork)

The Emil Zatopek Borders of Pain Award: Elik Hirsch, 118 points. Highlights: Pick one. His 5th belt buckle (you know what belt buckles imply, right?)? His 5 marathons (same as last year)? His 17 (+4 over last year!) races of marathon distance or longer (Gold Level Maniac again!)? Have at it. Incidentally, Zatopek’s full quote is, “It’s at the borders of pain and suffering that the men are separated from the boys.” Interestingly, most of Elik’s pain is by way of chafing. Imagine if he solved that, how much more Iridium or Ruthenium he might be (Gauntlet dropped!)!

The Dr. John Right Place Right Time Award: David Friedman, 77 points. David took full advantage of the Open Runs, partaking in nine of them, and outright winning seven of them, while running 13 races in total for the year, including a marathon and his 2nd 50k (something he swore he’d never do again). Highlights: those were the highlights, silly! Here’s a good spot to mention his wife, Faige, who finished out of the top 12, but also deserves props for jumping all over these runs, and maximizing opportunity as well. She won two of ‘em. The couple that Open Runs (and 50Ks) together…

The Mad Max (or Rather, Imperator Furiosa) Road Warrior Award: Rebecca Schwartz, 76 points. She gets the same award as last year because it’s altogether too fitting: she shtoises tuches and takes her War Rig with her to far-flung places where she shtoises more tuches. Highlights: Oh man, I’ll never get done once I start! I’ll try though. Here we go:

1)    Ran 8 marathons. Jumpin’ jiminy.

2)    Ran farther than anyone ever had ever before around here: 105 miles.

3)    Outright won the Two Rivers marathon.

4)    In March, she smashed three female JRunners records:

  1. 20k: 1:33:41
  2. 26.2: 3:25:44
  3. 50k: 4:07:55

As a certain Kazakhstanianite would say: Wawaweewa!

The Guns N’ Roses Welcome to the Jungle Award: Jamey Kohn, 68 points. Jamey showed up on the scene and hit the ground running. His first run ever was actually 1/1/15, and he’s run at least a mile a day ever since, and built up from that single mile on that first day to 80 miles during his 24-hour run. Highlights for the year include five marathons, two 50ks, and four other ultras of various distances. A 100-miler is next. Gosh, this is the greatest Couch-to-Infinity program ever. Nothing, apparently, will bring him to his sha na na na na knees knees.

The Bob Marley Get Up Stand Up Award: Moishie Gamss, 64 points. Moishie practiced a specific form of strategery: winning, among his JRunners peers, every out-of-town race he signed up for, racking up major placement points. He also tossed several in-of-town victories at the Open Runs (People, you’ve got to take advantage of these). Highlights: a big, one: A blistering, scorching 2:56:55 (Brooklyn) marathon PR, with its hill x 6. Pretty amazing. By the way, the award is an inside “joke.” Ahem, ahem. Best of luck to you, Moishie! Keep workin’ it!

The Bane Take Control Award: Mordechai Ovits, 59 points. Mordechai’s schedule has grown a bit leaner over the years (Just like him!), but anytime and anywhere he shows up, he takes over, as evidenced by…Highlights: He took 1st in 4 races, placed 3rd at the FIDV 5k, rung up the 4th and 5th fastest half marathon times this year, and the coup de grace: utterly destroying both the Leg1 and Leg2 records at the Jrunners Relay. What a dominating performance that was.

The Forrest Gump I Just Kept Running Award: Mandy Rosenberg, 59 points. Mandy, seemingly, is not equipped with any brakes. She started running at the beginning of the year, forgot to stop, and is still rolling, with her first ultra scheduled, and more of the same along the way. Her highlights are shattering two records, one female, and one outright. For the former, she ran 30 races. For the latter, that tally included 12, count ‘em, 12, half marathons for the year! That’s almost 1 per month! Wowsers.

The Judd Apatow That was 40 Award: Martin Bodek, 57 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 40 and wants this next year? Highlights: Finished his 26th, 27th, 28th, and 29th lifetime marathons, ran 41 miles on his 41st birthday, ran his 5th and 6th ultras, ran around the perimeter of Manhattan island just for the fun of it, eclipsed 1,000 miles in training for the second time, placed 2nd in the Virtual Festivus 5k, and participated in every unsanctioned event (easy to do, as he, ahem, ran them too). Whatchoo got in store for 2017, Martin? Do tell.

The Brad Pitt Curious Case of Benjamin Button Award: Adam Orlow, 46 points. Speak of the devil! Adam’s spot is fitting here, right next to Martin, because they are neck and neck over the years with their total lifetime marathons run, never more than one ahead or behind the other. While they fight it out, let’s give you the one, big massive highlight of the year: Adam might be as old as two 21 year-olds, but that didn’t stop him from setting a massive marathon PR at the Run for the Red. The stats room is still poring over the numbers, but we think he established a Masters record that will probably hold for a long while. Mordechai Ovits is pushing Masters territory however…

The Greg Lemond It Never Gets Easier, You Just Go Faster Award: Gene Sobol, 45 points. Gene is a young buck, but he’s getting his feet wet (literally) pretty quickly, and is on an upward-trending arc, if we ever saw one. Highlights: 15 races, 5 of which were half marathons, 2 of which were marathons, and 2 of which were Half Ironmans. He also was the single runner to place 1st more than once among his peers at NYRR races. Nowhere to go but way up!

The Cake He’s Going the Distance, He’s Going for Speed Award: Dov Gertzulin, 41 points. Dov gets the same award last year, because he did the same exact thing again, the same exact way: wherever he went, he went fast, and usually faster than most. Highlights: Of his 5 half marathons, 1 was the fastest any JRunner clocked for the year (1:21:52), and another 2 were the 8th and 9th fastest; his fastest marathon was 2nd fastest of the year (2:54:05); his team won the relay again, with him winning both of his legs, and generally, he just laid grooves of scorchmarks into the earth.

The Victor Hugo Perseverance, Secret of all Triumphs Award: JRunners ran another Mile-A-Day Streaker Challenge contest in 2016. We started with 13 runners and at the end of the year, six among us were left standing, or running. They are: Elik Hirsch, Moishie Gamss, Shmuly Engelman, Effy Shaw, Jamey Kohn, and Judy Fischmann, 400,000 points. Not only did they complete 366 consecutive days of running (actually, Elik, Moishie, Shmuly, Jamey, and Judy completed 731), but each and every one of them signed up for our 2017 challenge and have been carrying on. Wow. It should be noted that Elik and Judy are the lone figures to have completed both the Streaker Challenge and the 2,016 in 2016 Challenge (and yes, we’re doing a 2,017 in 2017 too. See all of it here:,

And there you have it folks. We had a very successful 2016, and we’re looking forward to a runderful™ 2017.

Martin Bodek,

Beat Reporter,

Martin writes books when he’s not busy emceeing virtual awards shows. Check ‘em out:,

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