Nearly 10,000 women participated in this year's More Magazine | Fitness Magazine Women's Half-Marathon, well over the 6,300 intrepid runners who braved the course last year during a pounding, cold rain storm. Of the 2010 race, More's editor-in-chief, Lesley Jane Seymour recalls, "I was wringing out my socks!" This year, spectators and athletes were greeted by a beautiful, early-spring morning.
Before the race, Elisabeth Hasselbeck (pictured)gave a motivating speech at the start line. "I'm no stranger to working beside really strong women," said the cohost of ABC's The View. "I can see I'm with a bunch today." Tapping into the spirit of camaraderie, Hasselbeck ended by saying, "Today we run together. See you at the finish line!"
Last year's winner, Sally Meyerhoff—who had planned on returning to defend her title—died on March 8 at the age of 27 in a tragic cycling accident near her home in Maricopa, Arizona. Racing in Sally's memory, 21-year-old Samantha Meyerhoff (pictured here) donned her sister's signature style—pink socks and a leopard print top—and came in fourth with a time of 1:26:39. A member of the cross country team at St. John's University in Queens, New York, Samantha said, when receiving her medal at the awards ceremony, that "to run this for Sally was beyond words."
Runners agreed that the most difficult part of the race was tackling what Pam from Connecticut described as the "humbling hills," steep ups and downs on the north end of the course. Kim from Pennsylvania described the same hills another way: She said they were "killer." Even so, more than one woman called the experience of running in Central Park "magical."
Many of the women who took on the 13.1-mile course were determined to fulfill a personal goal. Some wanted to beat their best time while others, like Gillian from Boston, just wanted to finish—and she did! Meanwhile, Stephany from Chicago, who was aiming for a net time of 2:10, surprised herself by finishing in 1:54.
Lauren from New Jersey thought the race was "very inspiring," adding that her enthusiasm was partly due to the quality of her performance. "I did much better than I thought I would," she said. Several women made similar comments, which may be the reason why so many of this year's racers have already set their sights on 2012. Mary from Philadelphia said, "I'm definitely doing it again. I'll be back."
"Did I want to quit? Yeah, about every two minutes," joked Katherine from New York. Vanessa, another New Yorker, offered this advice to future half-marathoners: "Don't ever stop." It seems that when the going gets tough, the tough keep going.
Sheri Piers (pictured), 39, a resident of Falmouth, Maine and the mother of five children, broke the tape in 1:17:27—almost eight minutes ahead of the second-place finisher. At the awards ceremony, Piers thanked and praised the women she'd raced against. "It's amazing to run by tons of women who encourage you to keep going," she said. What's next for Piers? The Boston Marathon, which is less than two weeks away.
Betty Wong (pictured right), editor in chief of Fitness, ran the half-marathon and still had enough juice afterward to get on stage and thank her fellow participants for their support during the race. "I am living my dream here," she said. "You rock!" Echoing Wong's sentiment, Elisabeth Hasselbeck (middle) enthused, "I've never had so much encouragement!" More's Seymour (left) says she was especially proud that the race participants helped raise over $150,000 for The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a nonprofit residential summer camp and year-round center in Ashford, Connecticut that serves children and their families coping with cancer and other serious conditions.
West Virginia Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, 57, and her daughter Shelley Capito, 25, crossed the finish line of their first half-marathon together in 2:09:42. “Running a half-marathon was a great chance for us to achieve a goal that we would be proud of,” said Capito. “We both try to take care of our health and workout regularly.”
“The end of the line never felt so good,” said More.com half-marathon blogger Nancy Berk, shown here at the finish of the race with her son Dan. Berk ran about a fifth of the race and power-walked the remaining distance. Her time was a bit over three hours, though Berk admits she was slowed down a little by several bathroom breaks as well as by texting her son, husband and friends, and doing some tweeting.