Sunday, December 05, 2010

Governors Island 10K Race

The Hood family was up early on Sunday, October 3.  The occasion was our son Michael's first 10 kilometer race, held on Governors Island. We took the 7:10 AM ferry, but the race didn't start until 8:30 AM so we had plenty of time to enjoy the views. The sun hadn't been up long, as you can see from the hint of a sunrise in the pictures below. What you can't see are the strong gusts of wind reminding us that fall had arrived.

The Manhattan Financial District,
with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge on the right.

The Statue of Liberty - looking more awake than I felt at 8 AM!

A view up the Hudson River,
with Manhattan on the right and New Jersey on the left.

Governors Island is divided into two areas: the 22-acre National Monument area, and the remaining 150 acres.  In 2001 the portion of Governors Island that contains two old forts and some magnificent old homes was declared a National Monument and is now maintained by the National Parks Service.  The rest of the island was sold to the State of New York in 2002, and the Trust for Governors Island was formed to develop the land for public use. In the small portion of the island that we saw, we didn't notice many signs of "life."  The former military buildings are in a state of disrepair. Weeds have overgrown lawns and playgrounds. However, a look at the Governors Island Blog informed me that, indeed, many activities and programs are available to the public.  One thriving initiative is the New York Harbor School, offering "a college-preparatory education built upon New York City's maritime experience." Indeed, the New York Times recently reported that the New York Harbor School is involved in an exciting project to bring oysters back into the New York Harbor

Standing around on Governors Island for nearly an hour and a half, I was sorry I hadn't read about its history in advance of our visit.  Being able to know what we were seeing and chat about it would have helped to distract us from the brisk wind.  But hey, it's never too late, right?  So here are a few interesting facts I learned as I was preparing this blog post.  (Sources are listed at the end of this post.)
  1. The island was originally used by the Lenape Native American people for fishing and for gathering nuts.  Since Michael studied the Lenape people in elementary school, I felt personally connected to bit of early Governors Island history.
  2. In 1611 Dutch explorer Adriaen Block named the island Noten Eylant, which morphed later into the name Nutten Island.
  3. The first person to actually live on the island was a man named Jan Rodrigues from the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. A Latin-American of African ancestry and a free man, Rodrigues was employed by the Dutch explorer Block to facilitate fur trading with the Hudson River Indians.
  4. In 1784 (eight years after American independence from Britain) the island's name was officially changed to Governors Island, a name that recalls is use for the "benefit and accommodation of His Majesty's Governors" of New York.
  5. Because of its key location in Upper New York Bay, the island was used by both British and American armed forces including the US Coast Guard.
I particularly liked these bits of Governors Island trivia:
  1. Early in the 20th century Governors Island grew from 103 acres to 172 acres when Manhattan bedrock and dirt from the excavation of the Lexington Avenue subway were hauled over and used as landfill.
  2. Tom (1937) and Dick Smothers (1939) --i.e., the Smothers Brothers -- were born on Governors Island when their father was stationed there.
Those are the things that would have been running through my head as we waited for the race to begin.  Instead, my husband Dan and I took pictures and tried to distract ourselves from the biting wind with the breakfast offered by the race sponsors:  bagels and coffee and fruit.

As the 8:30 AM start time grew near, the runners began to shed their warm-up clothes and make preparations for the run.

Michael and his friend Frances Weaver stretched
and handed off all their non-essential gear to Dan.

Above, Frances (center, with orange sleeves) and Michael (left of center, with black sleeves) leave the starting line. The route included three laps around the island.  

By 08:43:10 AM they had finished the first lap. Looking good!

By 09:01:35 AM, they had finished the second lap together.
The pack of runners is starting to thin out.

At 09:25:08 AM Michael sprinted for the finish line.
(He's right behind that guy in the foreground)

At 09:25:51 AM Frances crossed the finish, looking up to check her time.

Some cool-down stretches ...

... preceded the victory picture!

Their first 10K race was definitely a success. Out of 603 runners, Michael was the 256th to finish, with a time of 55 minutes and 11 seconds. Frances was the 287th to finish, with a time of 55 minutes and 50 seconds.

We were very proud of them. Their excitement was tempered by the cold, but take my word for it - they were both very pleased and satisfied. As we headed for the warmth of the ferry, there was talk of more races to come. Perhaps a half marathon next? We shall see, we shall see...


Facts and historical information for this post were taken from these websites:

© 2010, Linda Mason Hood
Truffles, Turtles & Tunes Copyright Statement

No comments: