Shore Road turns into runner’s paradise every Saturday

Shore Road Park looks like the starting line of the New York City Marathon every Saturday with runners stretching and warming up. But the athletes who gather in the park at 79th Street each weekend aren’t training to break any world records. They just want to have fun getting in shape.

Dozens of people take part in what has become a weekly run/walk in Shore Road Park sponsored by the New York Road Runners, the same folks behind the New York City Marathon.

The exercise program, called the NYRR Open Run, is open to all residents no matter their skill level and is designed to encourage people to get moving and enjoy nature, according to NYRR spokesperson Matthew Singer.

“Participants are encouraged to run, jog or stroll, and are free to bring children in strollers, or their dog on a leash,” said Singer, who added that the Open Run is held in 19 parks around the city. “Most courses are three laps of the park for a total distance of about three miles, and the runs are timed so participants can keep track of their progress,” he said.

NYRR approached Community Board 10 last year with the idea of setting up an Open Run in the area. Bay Ridge resident June Johnson, a member of the community board, worked to set up the program.

Johnson said she appreciates the diversity of the Open Run and that one doesn’t have to be an Olympic-trained athlete to participate.

“You don’t have to run/walk every week. Whenever you like is perfect. You don’t have to be the fastest or the best to participate. Young, old, moms with carriages, people with their dogs. Everyone is having fun and getting along,” Johnson told the Home Reporter.

The run is 5K, starting on Shore Road and 79th Street. “We run down to Xaverian High School (located on 71st Street) and over to the other side of the ball fields and up to 89th Street. Once around is one mile,” Johnson said.

“I always feel that the beauty of the run is that everyone comes down to the park,” she added.

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, an experienced athlete who has run marathons, often takes part in the Open Run. “He’s fast!” Johnson said.

Don’t worry if you don’t finish the course. Not everyone does, according to Johnson. “Some only run/walk half. What I like is that everyone is so friendly and kind to each other and we have all the various ethnic groups that live in our community. Some people come from other neighborhoods because they love running by the water,” Johnson said.

The program is a collaboration between NYRR and the New York City Parks Department’s Community Parks Initiative. The aim is to bring programming to smaller public parks in the city, according to Singer. “All parks have been selected based on the level of need, measured by the City Parks Initiative, as well as the amount of demand we receive from local community members,” he said.

The program was launched in St. Mary’s Park in the Bronx in 2015 and has since grown to 19 parks. Five Brooklyn parks have become Open Run sites – Brooklyn Bridge Park, Marine Park, Canarsie Park, Highland Park and Shore Road Park.

“We’ve had nearly 12,000 unique participants of NYRR Open Run since we started in 2015, including approximately 5,000 from the five Brooklyn sites. Per week we see, on average, more than 700 Open Run participants,” Singer said.

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Two of the recent participants jog past a playground in Shore Road Park.

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