The roughly 20,000 runners who made their way from Crown Heights to Coney Island as part of Saturday's annual Brooklyn Half Marathon were not only celebrating their own accomplishments, but also the borough's progress since Hurricane Sandy. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
Runners in the 33rd annual Brooklyn Half Marathon took off Saturday morning at the Brooklyn Museum, went through Prospect Park and Ocean Parkway and crossed the finish line at Coney Island, a neighborhood that seven months ago was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy.
"You can see people rebuilding as we walked around. The whole entire race finished in the middle of a construction zone," a runner said.
The recovery work is not complete yet, but the half-marathon runners thought Saturday's race was a celebration of the borough coming back after the storm.
"The greatest thing of all was that no matter what time, no matter where we crossed, what mile it was, people were just hanging over bridges, coming out of their cars, coming out of the streets, giving us a high five. The cops, the workers, nurses were coming out of the hospital," said Petrina Esposito, a runner. "Brooklyn is Brooklyn and the heart of people will always be here."
A record number of people were registered for the event, which is the second largest half marathon in the country. Eight NY1 staffers, including Brooklyn borough reporter Jeanine Ramirez, also took part.
"This year, 20,000 runners and it's just, I really got to say, it's become all the rage. Everybody wants to run Brooklyn," said Mary Wittenberg of New York Road Runners.
Security was tightened for the race and runners were asked to store belongings in clear drawstring bags provided by organizers.
When the race ended, the thousands of runners, their friends and family that came to watch didn't just leave. They stayed in Coney Island, eating, drinking and just simply having fun and bringing a much needed boost to the economy of the neighborhood.
"Now what am I going to do? I'm going to eat this hot dog," said John Bennion, a runner.
"It's good to see everyone come together and have fun and kind of just rebuilding, coming back to normal and try to be positive about it," said Kathryn Bannister, another runner.
Runners and spectators poured money into boardwalk businesses, the park and even planned to venture out a little further to great themselves after conquering the 13.1 miles.
"We're going to go to the Killers concert at the Barclays Center tonight to celebrate so that's going to be fun," said Chase Jonason, a runner.
The Brooklyn Half Marathon was truly a win-win, as runners walked away accomplishing a hefty goal and Brooklyn got to show the country that it is rebuilding even better than before.