NEW YORK – This year, the second major event for New York’s Ukrainian Running Club (URC) was the club’s participation in the world-famous New York City Marathon, which makes its way through all five of the city’s boroughs and this year took place on Sunday, November 5.
While the Vyshyvanka Run, the URC’s very successful first major event for 2017, was extremely popular and well attended simultaneously by Ukrainians from various states, it was really more about sharing Ukrainian traditions as well as promoting a healthy lifestyle for everyone. All ages and skill levels were encouraged to take part and run the three-mile distance at their own pace.
But the NYC Marathon is a different run, as not everyone is willing to take on the monumental task of running 42.2 kilometers (or 26.2 miles). Many from the URC, however, were willing to take on that task.
Even though many Ukrainians have run the marathon before, this year was special as a record number of Ukrainian Running Club members took part. Last year only nine members ran, but this year 44 proud members of the URC took part in the 47th annual New York City Marathon.
Whether or not they were running in the marathon, all members of the club and its supporters had several opportunities to participate in one way or another.
Located along the marathon route were two big “official” URC cheering support groups – one on Fourth Avenue and 50th Street in Brooklyn and another one on Fifth Avenue and 90th Street in Manhattan. You could not miss both groups as they had numerous Ukrainian flags, noisemakers and all sorts of banners and handmade signs. Whenever a URC member would run by, joyful shouts of encouragement could be heard, warm hugs were given, as was any other type of support that was needed. With such encouragement, the many hours of training, the pre-dawn trek to the start line and the grueling 26.2-mile run were well worth it for all the runners.
Even the non-member participants from Ukraine admitted how uplifting it was to experience such patriotic Ukrainian support and how much more happily, effortlessly and joyfully they continued and eventually finished the race.
It was possible to promote Ukrainian traditions and strengthen the prestige of Ukrainian sports in another way as well: by participating in the Parade of Nations during the official opening of the New York City Marathon on Friday, November 3. Even though the sizable Ukrainian delegation, consisting of guests from Ukraine as well as URC members, was not the largest one, it undoubtedly was one of the brightest ones of the parade. The delegation was led by two folk dancers in beautiful Ukrainian costumes (Angelina Boyko and Nikita Zhukovsky) and melodious Ukrainian dance music filled the air as our runners passed the viewing grandstands. Apparently, the organizers of the marathon parade enjoyed the Ukrainian music so much that they let it continue to play even as several delegations of other countries passed the main viewing area.
Peter Ciaccia, president of New York Road Runners – the world’s largest running club, which annually organizes the NYC Marathon – eagerly approached the Ukrainian runners and enthusiastically shook hands with each one.
On Sunday, the day of the marathon, Ukrainian rock star vocalist Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, founder of the popular rock group Okean Elzy, joined URC cheering groups in supporting all the Ukrainian runners.
Running or not, all members of the Ukrainian Running Club participated in an online marathon fund-raising campaign for Ukraine. This year’s NYC Marathon was dedicated to the children of Ukrainian soldiers killed or wounded while defending Ukraine against the Russian invaders of the Donbas. Over $10,000 was raised for the purchase of sneakers and sportswear for these children.
As regards sports achievements, URC runners showed some very impressive results. Three of the men managed to finish in less than three hours (Oleksandr Shevchenko – 2:43.06, Alexander Naboka – 2:51.24, Dmytro Molchanov – 2:53.47), eight more runners finished in under three and a half hours, while 11 finished in three and a half to four hours. On Monday, November 6, the day after the marathon, The New York Times listed all those runners who finished in five hours or less, and among them were 40 of the 44 URC participants.
Quite a few more Ukrainians ran the marathon and posted good times, but are not members of the Ukrainian Running Club. Any Ukrainians who are planning to run next year are welcome to join the URC. On next year’s NYC Marathon application, simply write URC NY as your running club.
But why wait until next year? Runners are welcome to join URC at any time. The Ukrainian Running Club hosts a number of diverse sports and fun healthy lifestyle activities, including group runs in interesting places throughout the year. Readers can learn more about these activities by “liking” and following the Ukrainian Running Club New York on Facebook.
Translated by Lada Lysniak.