Borough races into athletic history with ‘Brooklyn Marathon’

Brooklyn Daily
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A pair puts its best foot forward during the race, held on Sunday in Prospect Park.
Manhattanite Jeanne Finnerty came to support.
A slogger keeps his spirits up.
Vollies hand out refreshments along the way.
Laura Wyatt makes sure runners don’t run out of juice.
Women’s winner Kelly Gillen crosses the finish line in 3:14.
Men’s champ John Paul Montes (center) shares bragging rights with runners-up Will Guzick (left) and Brody Gann.

More than 350 runners made history in Prospect Park on Sunday, legging out the inaugural Brooklyn Marathon on a crisp, clear, beautiful day.

Councilman Brad Lander — who runs half-marathons — fired the ceremonial starter’s horn while our editor, Gersh Kuntzman, led the pack on his bike (what else?) to keep the runners on the straight and narrow on a course that covered three small loops and then six full laps to reach the requisite 26.2 miles.

Carroll Gardens legend John Paul Montes, 24, won it all with a time of 2:43. Manhattanite Kelly Gillen aced the women’s race in 3:14.

The Brooklyn Marathon comes on the heels of that other, more famous epic run, which both our winners completed just a couple of weeks ago, but organizer Steve Lastoe, founder of NYCRuns, hopes its humble beginnings — however great — are soon dust.

“It really couldn’t have gone any better, and now we’re interested in putting on a really good home-grown marathon that will grow into five figures in a few years.”

Sunday’s slog wasn’t without its ups and downs, and the throng wheezed admirably up the knobby, 200-foot knoll of Prospect Hill — also known as “Heartbreak Hill” — which took the British for a loop in 1776 during the Battle of Brooklyn. Montes, an athletics coach at Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn Heights, was charged over his history-making conquest, despite having three New York City marathons under his belt already.

“I had no idea that I could run as fast as I did!” said the athlete who is pursuing a career as a cop. “Running that race with intelligence was the name of the game.”

The strategy ended up being a winning one.

Montes cruised in fifth place for most of the race, allowing himself three well-timed surges: to break away from the others, tail the leader, and distance himself at the end.

His hometown sweep is outta sight, bragged the nimble-foot who ran his first city marathon in 3:12 at the age of 18.

“Born, raised, schooled, work, train and run for Brooklyn!” he kvelled.

Right on, guy!

Reach reporter Shavana Abruzzo at or by calling (718) 260-2529.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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