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 sabruzzo@c