Bay Ridge

Ridge Runners are on the right track

Team welcomes everyone from marathoners to rookies

June 17, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
With encouragement from his teammates, a member of the Ridge Runners completes a run during a Spring Social event. Photos courtesy of Felix Chen
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Felix Chen, an avid runner, was used to training by himself for marathons and other races. But he began to notice something that troubled him. “I used to run alone, but at one point, I started to plateau. I started to lose my motivation,” he said.

Chen, who lives in Bay Ridge, came up with a solution. Two summers ago, he got a group of fellow runners from the neighborhood together and formed a team called the Ridge Runners. “I felt that a community of runners would keep me in check and help me improve,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle. “Also, I thought Bay Ridge could use a running club.”

The Ridge Runners group is still going strong two years later. Chen is the team captain.

The team, which has more than a dozen members, meets every Tuesday night at 7: 30 p.m. at the 69th Street Pier and runs along the nearby Shore Road Promenade. But the runners also change routes frequently to jazz things up and get used to running on different types of terrain. Members recently ran from Bay Ridge to Downtown Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge, for instance.

The runners also get together on the first Tuesday of every month at the Fort Hamilton High School Athletic Field to run sprints on the track.

The members include teachers, fundraisers for nonprofits, employees of start-ups, people working in finance and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) workers.

“We’re all very supportive of each other and we encourage each other,” Chen said. “Running is really about the connection between yourself and others. Without the support from my friends, family and members of the club, I would not have completed my first marathon.”

Andrew Gounardes, chief counsel to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, is a team member.

“I started running with the group a few months ago, while training for my second Brooklyn Half Marathon. I’m going to continue training with them in the months ahead because I won an entry into the NYC Marathon this November. This will be my first marathon, and running with a group, especially people you can consider friends, makes training so much more enjoyable,” Gounardes told the Eagle via email.

The team has participated in several local races in Brooklyn, including the Hoban Run, an annual event held in memory of Police Officer Christopher Hoban, a Xaverian High School graduate fatally gunned down during an undercover buy and bust operation in 1988. The participants run along the Shore Road Promenade and through Bay Ridge streets, ending up near Xaverian High School on Shore Road.

The Ridge Runners wore T-shirts emblazoned with the team name for the Hoban Run.

One of the best things about the Ridge Runners, according to Chen, is that the members are runners at all skills levels. “You don’t have to be an experienced marathon runner to join us. We have people running with us who never ran in a 5-K race before they joined us,” he said.

“All you have to do is show up,” Chen added.

For more information on the Ridge Runners, email [email protected].


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