Monday, August 29, 2011

The 2011 JRunners Relay Race Awards

The 2011 JRunners Relay Race Awards
Martin Bodek

Good evening ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the 2011 JRunners Relay Race Awards. I am your host, Martin Bodek. While I figure out what to properly call these trophies (The Runnies? the Racies?), I ask that you sit back, enjoy and extrapolate the tale of the 2011 relay edition via the citations given to the worthy recipients.

The We've Got The Runs Award for the Best Team Name - The team names were, in order of their arrival at the finish line: Team 5 AKA No U Turns, Team 8 AKA Silk's Ilk, Team 7 AKA John Elway Runners, Team 1 AKA Cool Running, Team 2 AKA The WEeBLes, Team 6 AKA Rapid Runners, Team 4 AKA Asphalt Assault, Team 3 AKA Runners Anonymous. This vote was put to the runners, organizers and volunteers, and by an overwhelming margin, The WEeBLes are proud to hoist this trophy.

The Steve Prefontaine Guts Award - Mordy Ovits, Team 2. Mordy signed up to do 18.1 grueling miles, and completed them all in speedy fashion. Then he started adding to the tally by running several segments alongside his group B temmates down the final stretch, in particular doing almost the entire leg 29 with his brother Yitz. Then he also put in the Mad Dash. In total, he ran 26 miles, only .2 short of a marathon! Holy smokes! Mordy also wins the Soul Asylum Runaway Train Award for fastest time recorded at any moment on a GPS. On one of the mountain downhills, he recorded a 4:37 clip!

The Rocky and Bullwinkle Fearless Leader Award - Steven Friedman, Team 4. Steven was admittedly in lesser shape than last year, but nevertheless signed up for more difficult and longer legs. Leg 22 threw him for literal loops, which seemed like flat terrain from the map, but those kinds of maps have painful blips. The heat beat him down and invited him to quit. He experienced cramps and pulled muscles in every single part of his body. Through the difficulty, he made up his mind that he was going to drop dead before he ever quit. He did not quit, and you must know by now, though he is difficult to reach, he did not drop dead. He lived through the hills and the pain and the obstacles and the fire-engine red adorable cheeks of his at very good overall paces with pride and guts. Way to go, Steven.

The Gunnery Sergeant Hartman Troop Rallier Award - Elie Lowinger, Team 4. Elie coached several of his teammates as he ran alongside them for support and motivation, hollering positive energy into his sun-beaten and hill-clobbered buddies. His group cited his efforts as crucial to their brave performances.

The Evanescense Bring Me Back to Life Award - The one lady, three EMTS, nine teammates and little girl who respectively watered and iced me down, oxygenated me, fed me and kept me company when I collapsed after the finish line. I gave it my best, and they gave me their best. Thank you all so very much.

The Scooby Doo Mystery Machine Best Decorated Van Award - Team 3. They deserve this award simply for trying so hard. Every inch of their car was covered with slogans and messages and streamers and t-shirts and arts-and-crafts and names of the runners and sneakers that looked like they belonged to Shaquille O'Neal. And oh yes, lovely foot-hats (ergo default winners of the Captain Jack Sparrow Best Costume Award) made by Mrs. Pupko, wife of captain Yisroel Pupko.

The Billy Mills Comeback Award - Aron Rosenfeld, Team 7. Three times, count 'em 3!, Aron overtook team 2 to take the 3rd place position, finally making it stick on his last attempt. On leg 10's torturous Hills of Wesley, he overtook Martin Bodek in the final 25 feet, coming on like a steamroller. On leg 20, he overtook Yitz Ovits with a quarter mile left, and finally, on leg 29, he overtook Yitz Ovits again and made it count. He hit the ground after exchanging, but made sure no one needed to worry about him by immediately doing a series of pushups. I don't know where he gets his fire. Maybe it's the homemade flying Nike tzitzis.

The Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Award - Ariel Kohane, Team 3. First his left sole got punctured while out on his first leg and a stone got wedged inside that he couldn't remove. Then he got chased off the course twice by dogs, nearly necessitating a jump on a JRunners support vehicle before their owners called them back. Then on the last leg he outran the teammates pacing him for support. Then we presume he was finally happy to be finished with his crazy day.

The Winston Churchill Never Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever Give Up Award - Team 1. Moishe Gamss and Team 1 were languishing in 8th place after leg 15 but never gave up hope and never stopped running with extreme determination. Their efforts paid off with a quarter-mile to go, when Moishe blasted past a hurting team 4 runner (okay, fine, that was me) to secure 4th place for his team. Amazing job.

The Kurt Vonnegut Slaughterhouse Five Award - Team 5. Also known as the Guns N' Roses Appetite for Destruction Award, team 5 laid down the law and absolutely mashed the field to a fine pulp. Establishing a lead from the 3rd leg, they kept the throttle down and never let go, not on the hills, not in the mountains, not through any personal struggles of any of their runners. They accomplished it through strength of unity and phenomenal teamwork. They prepared by running with each other before the race. The Brooklyn contingent ran together in Prospect Park, and the Passaic contingent did so in the Passaic Park Environs. Many of them clobbered their previous best showings.

The Mike Marshall Bullpen Horse Award - Chaim Silber, Team 8. Chaim was an 11th hour replacement who had 24 hours to prepare for the race (not much training you can do for a trial by fire like this over 24 hours). However, Chaim is a proud member of the Israeli Army, and that means he's tough as nails and completely unaware of the concept of quitting. He completed all his legs and then some, tearing into the hills with a vengeance. Am Yisroel chai.

The Cake Going the Distance Award - Moshe Kaufman, Team 8. Moshe signed up for the longest total distance going into the race. Including the mad dash, he committed to 19 miles going in and despite several hills on all of his legs, he finished 'em all. That's what we call committment and dependability.

The Edmund Hilary Alpine Award - Yosef Landau, Team 2; Shia Itzkowitz, Team 8; Ron Goldofsky, Team 5; Shaul Mayerfeld, Team 7; Abraham Lebovits, Team 1; Mark Izhak, Team 4; David Colman, Team 3 and Jacob Deckelbaum, Team 6. What do these fine gentlemen have in common? They each ran leg 17. What's so significant about that? Well, leg 17 would make ordinary folk cry for their mommies and beg for their daddies. But these eight men are not ordinary folk, they're a special breed of athlete called JRunners. They powered up the hill as it mashed them to a pulp. Through cramps and exhaustion and profuse water refills, they made it. Yes, Leg 26 was a very close second in degree of difficulty, but the difference is, those who ran leg 17 came back for more!

The Luke Skywalker The Force is Strong with this One Award - Yaakov Bressler and Matt Bohensky, teams 6 and 5. Both are teenagers in possession of serious physical strength and speed. They have no idea how envious runners twice their age are of them, mostly because it's icky to admit an athlete's crush on one half your age. I think they have an idea how much potential they both have, and that comforts me, but what is more important is their toughness. Yaakov had stomach cramps but fought hard with it while running an extra leg due to an injured teammate, shouting, "I do those mountains for breakfast!" all the way and completing a total of 23 miles. Matt actually ran with a bad knee, having bashed it accidentally into a dinner table just three weeks before the race. The bruise was still visible at start time. Alternatively, this is also known as the Peter Parker With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility Award.

The Hocus Pocus by Focus Award - Yoni Lazerous, Team 4. Yoni signed up just days before the race and took the daunting hills in stride. Then his teammates got a bit lost while he was on leg 2 and couldn't get him water support for the entire 7.7 miles, but he was cool about it. Then he got to the exchange eight minutes before his teammates arrived, but he didn't panic. Then he put in 22 miles including pacing of his teammates and remained cool as a cucumber throughout. Some of us could have used some of the ice water in his veins.

The Bear Grylls Man vs. Wild Award - Jonathan Pittinsky, Team 2. Many of us encountered much in the way of wildlife as we were out there on the road. There were deer and horses and cows and birds and bullfrogs and dogs (Adam Orlow, Team 2, got bitten by one!) and a rattlesnake and five billion crickets, but the most alarming encounter of all was the one unseen, and therefore the most threatening. A motorist passing by lowered her window to holler at Jonathan to be careful, as she saw a bear nearby. A bear! Holy cow! Imagine running while fretting about a bear in your way??? Yikes!

The Rod Stewart Hot Legs Award - Tzvi Hass, Team 4. Tzvi was happily running along when the rain started, then wasn't happily running along anymore when a lightning bolt struck the ground about 100 feet from where he was. Frightened as any of us would be, he ran off the road seeking shelter when his van happened by. He jumped in for safety until the storm dissipated. Yours truly has been thrown by a lightning strike before. I know the fear and what happens to your heartrate. It's a good thing Tzvi's last name means "rabbit." Run, rabbit, run!

The USMC Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body Award - Yossi Sharf, Team 3. Yossi's FIRST step resulted in sudden cramping of both his calves, his next steps hurt him even more, when he started picking up the pace in an attempt to outrun the pain. When he closed in on his first exchange, he donated the contents of his stomach to the West Side Highway. Then he had problems catching his breath, then he thinks he started hallucinating. Then on his second leg, his legs started cramping. But he fought through it all with the help of his teammates and hydrating bikers. What didn't kill Yossi, made him stronger and he promised to train more and harder for next year's edition. Great show, Yossi.

The Pam Reed Extra Mile Award - Levi Gutwein, Team 5. Due to a logistics issue, in the lead-up to the race, Leg 29 was officially shortened by almost a mile, but team 5 had established such a lead by the time they got there, that the exchange was not yet moved to its new proper position by the time Levi came along. He ran that leg that near-mile longer than any of his leg 29 competitors, and he felt it. Levi said his legs were cement and that the last mile was, "the most physically and psychologically demanding mile I have ever run!"

The Queen The Show Must Go On Award - Rabbi Daniel Coren, Team 4. Rabbi Coren gives a daf yomi shiur, and would not let his participation in the race keep him from his preparation. Between legs, he sat down and commenced his studies to dispatch his spiritual responsbilities. Because of his commitment, he was fully up to date at the end of the journey. conversely, I am now a full week behind because of the two days over which the race elapsed and all the furious post-race writing that takes up much of my time. Maybe having Rabbi Coren as a teammate would keep me up to date.

The John Travolta Lookalike Contest Award - Abe Wulliger, Team 5. Because he looks exactly like John Travolta!

And there you have it folks! Congratulations to all the winners!

Martin Bodek is the beat reporter for Buy his books though (, because this gig pays him squat.


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