Run for glory: Athletes race to finish of .2-mile Williamsburg ‘marathon’

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Photo gallery

Stretching it out: James Coker, left, and “local celebrity” Will Nunziata got loose and limber before the competition.
Blanket of honor: Sorta Marathon founder Zach Broussard recharged under a thermal wrap after completing his .2-mile trek.
They did it!: Runners strode across the finish line after sweating it out for a daunting .2 miles.
Sorta staff: Sharon Spell, left, and Sandi Marx stood by to cheer competitors on and help any who got hurt during the “run.”
Outstanding athletes: The first, second, and third-place “winners” of the Sorta Marathon.
Straight shot: The Sorta Marathon’s course, which is basically just a start and finish line.

They are so — sorta — inspiring!

Runners stampeded past the starting point seconds before sprinting across the finish line of a new “marathon” in Williamsburg on Nov. 12. And, not surprisingly, the .2-mile race passed in a euphoric blur, according to an athlete, who said his endorphins kicked in halfway through the competition and carried him to completion.

“I would say the first .1 mile was really tough, but finishing the second .1 mile was a breeze after the adrenaline kicked in and I got that runner’s high. That’s what running .2 miles is all about,” said Clinton Hill resident James Coker. “This is probably my proudest achievement.”

All of the competitors who paid $20 to participate in the first-ever “New York Sorta Marathon” at McCarren Park came in first place — except for two predetermined silver and bronze finishers whom the event’s founder asked to throw the race, Coker said, since every sporting event needs runners-up, too. But the Clinton Hill local, who placed third, said losing did not matter, because simply crossing the finish line was the real prize.

“For me, it’s not about when you finished. It’s the fact that you finished,” Coker said.

And taking the bronze medal was no easy feat, according to the athlete, who said he put months’ worth blood, sweat, and tears into preparing for the contest.

“I try to run once a month. It’s important to have a regular regimen — 100, 200, 300 feet at a time,” he said. “Baby steps, you can’t just jump right in with serious distance racing.”

Another short-distance runner said he was overcome with emotion after crossing a finish line he waited much of his life to reach.

“I feel like I’ve been carbo-loading for the last 25 years, so, yeah, I trained,” said Will Nunziata, a self-proclaimed local celebrity from the outer borough of Queens.

A “medical staff” watched runners from the sidelines, ready to offer bananas, space blankets and tiny cups of Gatorade to competitors — in addition to well wishes to anyone who got hurt, according to a woman who played nurse, who said she could not actually help injured runners because she has no training whatsoever.

“I was a sorta nurse — I would only sorta be able to help them,” said Sharon Spell, who also traveled from Queens to the marathon. “But sometimes your presence is enough to inspire healing.”

And congratulations for the third-place finisher continue to pour in, according to Coker, who said sharing his achievement with friends via social media made the effort he put in to the race worth it.

“The real reason people run marathons is to brag about it on social media,” he said. “This took all the aspects of running a race without any of the work.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 8:51 pm, November 15, 2017
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Reasonable discourse

Morris from Mill Basin says:
Good for them! They have a lot of stanima.
Nov. 14, 2017, 11:14 am
Homey from Crooklyn says:
Screw this hipster BS
Nov. 14, 2017, 12:58 pm
Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
I guess all that biking and complaining they do doesn't do much to give them any actual fitness or stamina for a real race. And I bet their times would be better if they shaved and had less wind resistance.
Nov. 14, 2017, 4:58 pm
Patrick from Gowanus says:
Did the money go to some cause?
Nov. 16, 2017, 8:35 am

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