Close to 5,000 runners descended upon northeast Queens Sunday for the annual College Point half-marathon despite criticism from some community leaders who were upset the event was scheduled on the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah.
“We never want to interfere with a religious holiday, but it happens sometimes,” said Peter Ciaccia, vice president of event development and production at New York Road Runners, which organized the event. “It was the day the city approved, so we had to do it then. We really want to work with the community, and we know they’re upset. We reviewed the entire course with the Police Department to make sure they wouldn’t be interfering with people at the synagogues.”
Rosh Hashanah is the first of the High Holidays and marks the start of the civil year on the Hebrew calendar.
Community Board 7 during an August meeting called the running club’s decision to hold the half-marathon on the holiday insensitive and said the board would not support Road Runners or help with any promotions for the event that began at 7 a.m. at MacNeil Park.
Hector Rivera, 58, of Clifton, N.J., was the race’s male winner, finishing the 13.1 miles in a little more than one hour and 10 minutes. Bridget Barbera, 38, of Brooklyn, was the race’s female victor, completing the half-marathon in about one hour and 25 minutes.
The race’s nearly 5,000 runners came from throughout the city’s five boroughs as well as New Jersey and Long Island, Ciaccia said. The half-marathon has grown increasingly popular over the more than 20 years it has been held in College Point, according to Ciaccia.
“Running has gotten more popular,” he said. “It’s affordable and it’s really good for your health. With the rise of type-2 diabetes and obesity, people are paying more attention to their health.”
Jamaica resident Mia Fulgado, 29, said completing the race was an extremely emotional moment for her since she had once been bedridden due to having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as a child.
“I used to be really sick as a kid, so this is a really big deal for me,” said Fulgado, who had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome from age 10 to 13.
“Twenty years ago, when I was 9, I never imagined I’d be running a race,” she added. “I’m really happy.”
Fulgado said she plans to qualify for the 2010 New York City Marathon.
Quang Tran of East Elmhurst ran the half-marathon for the first time Sunday.
“It wasn’t so bad,” Tran said of the race. “I was listening to music until mile six, and then I had to stop and just listen to myself breathing.”
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson
©2009 Community News Group
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