April 17, 2016 was a crystal clear blue-sky day as 10,000 women ran the Central Park course of the 13th More/Shape Half Marathon. Women of all abilities, shapes and stripes joined together to celebrate the empowerment and strength that is represented by running. I had the great privilege of speaking with a few exceptional women. I hope they inspire you as much as they inspire me.
The winner, Caroline Lefrak, is a local runner who finished in 1:16:28 and had won a 10K two weeks ago. Caroline said, “I love women’s races, everyone’s so civil at the start. And then on the second lap, the runners were cheering me on. It was great.” She’s friendly with and inspired by Deena Kastor, who ran the race but didn’t race the race. “I really look up to Deena, said Caroline, “she keeps doing what she does at 42, and has been through 4 Olympic cycles, she’s a big inspiration.”
Erica Hill, formerly of the Today Show and currently on MSNBC and Nightly News, finished in 2:11:46. The Today Show co-hosted the event. Erica and Carolyn Manno (NBC Olympics) ran the race together. Natalie Morales ran 1:36:43 with a chest cold! Erica told me her inspiration to run changes by the day. “Sometimes it’s because I need to give myself a boost. Frequently it’s my kids. I want my boys to have a strong role model and a mother who is healthy and fit,” said Erica. A lot of times it’s her Dad, who passed away. Erica said, “he’s always looking down and pushing me through.” In honor of her Dad, Erica ran the NYC marathon in 2014 with Fred’s Team, Memorial Sloan Kettering’s athletic program that raises money for cancer research.
Jasmine Montoya-Patchett, finished in 2:18:37. Jasmine gave birth to her son two years ago. She suffered from postpartum depression and running was her key to recovery. “Not medication, not therapy,” said Jasmine, “going out and hitting the pavement, running was the only thing that got me out of it. Running is so amazing, you’re out in nature, there’s no judgment, it’s about running a race, it’s so beautiful because it’s just about you.”
Joanna Harberts, finished in 2:38:30. Joanna changed her life, lost 50 pounds and now can add Half-Marathon finisher to her accomplishments. She told me standing in the corral listening to Deena Kastor speak, surrounding by all these women with incredible energy was a surreal moment. She worked really hard to get to this point and felt ready. “As I was going up this hill, I made eye contact with this cat statue and that helped me push up it,” said Joanna. (She found the cat of Cat Hill in a nanosecond – it took me years to find that statue!). Joanna continued, “ I saw the finish line, I gave it everything, I was so happy.” Welcome to endurance sports, Joanna, we’re keeping you!
Elaine Doll Dunn, finished in 3:42:3. Elaine came in fourth in her age group (75-79). She said it always feels really good to accomplish what you set out to do. Though she trains in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the Central Park course is really challenging. She has a particularly powerful force to get her through the arduous route. “ I absorb the skyline and inhale the trees and nature,” said Elaine, “ the flowers are in bloom, it’s so beautiful.”
All these incredible women lead by example. One woman shows the next what can be accomplished and on it goes. That’s what inspiration is all about. Let’s keep it up, we have a world to run!