Mikael Tesfaye Kahsay, 25, led the way in 14:49 as his West Side Runners team won yet another team points race. On the women’s side, Catherine Beck, 26, of Central Park Track Club New Balance, took first in 17:15. Beck held off a strong challenge from Catherine Robbie, 31, whose New York Athletic Club squad ultimately edged CPTC for the club points win.
The race was part of Harlem Week and honored the legacy of another Harlem trailblazer, Percy Sutton. As Manhattan Borough President in the 1970s, Sutton championed the expansion of the New York City Marathon into a true five-borough event. Today, his granddaughter, Keisha Sutton-James, was one of the 3,608 runners who completed the 3.1-mile trek through the historic hills of Harlem.
“It was important to me that this be my first 5K and fitness goal. I grew up two blocks from here — my grandfather lived in the same building — and it’s gratifying to see all the people who have come to Harlem to experience our neighborhood,” she said. “Growing up with the NYC Marathon, I was always out there cheering — and I still am — so it means a lot to run through our streets and be the recipient of that kind of energy.”
Added fellow Harlem local and first-timer Richard Habersham, “The feeling of running in the streets with people cheering you on is something I’ve never done before and I’m energized by the whole experience. I was born and raised in Harlem so it’s symbolic that this is the first effort towards what will hopefully end with me running the ING New York City Marathon next year.”
For the more than 100 women of Black Girls Run who participated in today’s race, the 5K was also about getting up and running, regardless of shape, size, age, or ability.
“We come in all sizes,” said Tania Santiago. “Some run, some walk, some crawl, some waddle — whatever you have to do to improve your health. It’s personal being in Harlem, but I just wanted to come out to support good health and motivate people. You’ve got to get started somewhere and get up off the couch!”
In addition to promoting healthy living throughout New York, this year’s event took on an added significance as the run’s sister Walk-A-Thon event led the charge for “Peace in Our Communities.” Congressman Charlie Rangel, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and other religious and civic leaders addressed the crowd of walkers and urged them to unite to rid the city’s and nation’s streets of guns and senseless violence.
“It’s just too much,” said Sutton-James. “As a country, we have to stand up and say, ‘These lives are valuable and they are important.’ I’m so proud that this year the theme is also focused on improving our community by eliminating gun violence.”
Mikael Tesfaye Kahsay
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