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NYRR United Airlines Half Race Strategy

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As of today, there are 16 days left to prepare for the 2017 NYRR United Airlines NYC Half.

I love this race; now is the perfect time to talk race strategy.

If you haven’t done this race (or even if you have), here’s what you can expect on the course (here’s a link to the page with the course map).

THIS JUST IN!!!

22 minutes ago the NYRR posted the following to Facebook:

“In partnership with the Mayor’s Office and NYPD, the United Airlines NYC Half course has altered slightly from 2016 due to ongoing road construction. The slight alterations include a new out and back section north of Central Park and a change in direction at the finish, with runners running north up Water St, where we look forward to seeing everyone as they receive their finisher medals.”

The NYRR United Airlines Half Course

The NYRR has kept the course the same since they changed it for the 2014 race. The race starts on the east side of the park at about 73rd Street and undulates with no “significant” hills during the first two miles. The only hill is virtually after you cross the start. Referred to “Cat Hill” or “Cat’s Paw” in local parlance due to the sculpture of the panther half way up, the hill lasts only 2/10th of a mile and is quick and relatively painless. Chances are there will be a fair amount of spectators who will cheer you through.

The course flattens out for a little less than a mile where you’ll hit a nice downhill starting just past the 102 transverse. At this point you pass by Lasker Pool (which is a hockey rink in the winter) and the Harlem Meer off your right shoulder, exit out the park for the short out and back on Central Park North (110th Street). This is also a bit of a rise, so make sure to pace yourself and don’t push too hard here. You’ll then U turn into the park for what is the only “big hill” you’ll hit that day.

Here’s the elevation chart up until that point

NYRR United Airlines Half Strategy

The Hills (oh, the hills)

For the next two miles you hit what is known on Strava as “The Three Sisters” or “The Triplets,” a series of three hills starting with what is locally known as Harlem Hill.

HH starts at about 40 feet above sea level and rises to about 120 over the course of a little less than half a mile, it’ll get you breathing hard but it’s not as scary as you’ve heard. Crest the hill and drop down a 1/4 decline (to about 60’ above sea level). Over the next mile the course undulates up to about 120 feet, which isn’t that big a hill, but if you’re racing a 13.1, you’re going to feel it. At this point you’ve met and conquered the Triplets, congrats!

The good news is that once you’ve hit the five-mile mark, almost all the hills are behind you.

There’s one more bump at 5.5 miles that takes you from the 72nd Street transverse to a traffic light with Sheep’s Meadow on your left and what used to be Tavern on the Green on your right (just barely 3/10 of a mile).

NYRR United Airlines Half Strategy

From 10K On

Exit the park at the 10K mark and follow the downhill into Times Square. Yeah, Times Square! Crazy, right?

This is one of the two days each year that the Cross Roads of the World is closed to cars. For just one minute you get to take your mind off race strategy and gawk at the lights, video screens and screaming fans (yup, at 9AM) that surround you before making a right onto 42nd Street.

Every year I’ve run this race there’s been a headwind along 42nd Street. Take in the crowds and the buildings and enjoy passing the halfway point. This section is only a mile long so tuck your head down, turn up your music and get through it.

NYRR United Airlines Half Strategy

The Final (Long) Stretch

You’ll make a right when you get to the West Side Highway where you’ll run north for one block before making the second U turn on the course and start to head south. This stretch is flat as a pancake. Maybe even flatter and crowds are sparse but there are pockets of people – a lot of the teams (Front Runners, Team In Training, Fred’s Team, etc.) station people along this part of the course to give their runners that extra push. There are also DJs and aid stations at intervals.

From that point, it’s pretty much downhill or flat until you circle the bottom of the Island in the Battery Underpass (coming out of which is a slight uphill).

There a few turns after the underpass, but once you make it through them, you’re home free and across the finish line!

NYRR United Airlines Half StrategyFeel free to post questions here or on my FB page, I’ll be happy to answer them as best I can and have a great race!

This just in, there’s been a change in the course!

According to the NYRR’s Facebook page there’s been a change in the course as follows:

“In partnership with the Mayor’s Office and NYPD, the United Airlines NYC Half course has altered slightly from 2016 due to ongoing road construction. The slight alterations include a new out and back section north of Central Park and a change in direction at the finish, with runners running north up Water St, where we look forward to seeing everyone as they receive their finisher medals.”

Here’s the video I made from last year’s race.

1 Comment

  1. Glad you posted about the course alterations. Hadn’t heard about those, and had been looking at a map downloaded weeks ago, not realizing it was no longer accurate. Thanks! I sure wish they’d label more streets more on the maps, but I suppose that’d render the maps on the apps less unique…

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