This month, Brooklyn will hold its largest half marathon ever, making it one of the most popular in the nation, and efforts are being made to ensure its success. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
The Brooklyn Half Marathon has really taken off.
In 2011, there were just 6,000 runners. Last year, that number more than doubled to 15,000, and this year, more than 20,000 runners are signed up for the May 18 run, making it the second-largest half marathon in the country (behind only a half marathon in Indianapolis).
"Brooklyn's big in every way, and it's time for its half marathon to be that much bigger, too," said Mary Wittenberg, president of the New York Road Runners. "So we're really excited."
What's made Brooklyn so popular? Organizers said it's the couple of changes made to the 25-year-old race. It's now held in May instead of March. The course was also flipped so that runners finish in Coney Island.
"Really an iconic finish on the boardwalk," Wittenberg said. "So it's an unbelievable course. It's a crowd favorite in every way."
The race starts at the Brooklyn Museum, wraps around Grand Army Plaza, winds into Prospect Park and then stretches down Ocean Parkway to the finish line.
This year's ending in Coney Island has special meaning after Hurricane Sandy.
"Everything was in doubt six months ago, but the resiliency of all the operators in Coney Island, with the assistance of the city of New York, with the various agencies that helped out, it's come to fruition, and we're open," said Dennis Vourderis, owner of Deno's Wonder Wheel Park.
Coney Island business owners and elected officials met with New York Road Runners to come up with strategies on how to keep the thousands of runners in Coney Island after the race. One way is to offer special deals on rides and food.
"You just don't run home," said City Councilman Domenic Recchia of Brooklyn. "You stay. You enjoy Coney Island. It's up and running. We have great family activities. We have free events."
Another issue addressed was security in light of the Boston Marathon bombings.
"We'll have extra security," said Inspector Peter DeBlasio of the New York City Police Department's 60th Precinct. "Counterterrorism people will be deployed down here. Radiation pagers, dogs, things like that."
The goal is to make this year's race not just the the biggest, but the best yet.
Even with more than 20,000 runners, there are still spots available in the Brooklyn Half Marathon. Registration closes on May 14.