Ready, set, go! Er, no, wait, eat! No! Run!
There may have been some confused passers-by and homeless people at Tompkins Square Park on Sunday, but the 65 people who gathered there at 11 o’clock in the morning knew the score. Four laps around the park (2.25 miles), with stops after three for a slice of pizza. It was the first annual New York City Pizza Run, an event conceived by pizza blogger, Jason Feirman (I Dream of Pizza).
You know Jason here from last year’s trip to New Haven’s three storied pizzerias. Anyone who has seen New York commuters doing the rush hour dash at Penn and Grand Central may take issue with his description of the race as “New York’s first ever food run,” but there’s no question it was a great event.
How did the idea for the pizza run come about?
Jason: It’s something I’ve wanted to put on for a long time. Ever since I started a pizza blog — I Dream Of Pizza — in 2008, I’ve been trying to think of innovative ways that pizza could be used to bring people together. This was one of the first ideas I had. I figured that people in New York City love running and exercising. And they also love food…particularly pizza. So it made sense to put on an event that combines these two characteristics of the city.
Are you an avid runner? Is that how you stay so skinny and eat so much pizza?
My slim physique is misleading. I don’t run at all. I suppose I was blessed with a quick metabolism. I tried picking up running back in 2008. It lasted for about a month. But during that time, I did run a 5K and was exposed to the great running community in New York City. There are so many great outlets for runners, whether it be Team In Training, The Niketown Running Club, or the New York Road Runners. Close bonds are formed over a mutual love for running and fitness. It’s empowering. Hopefully, the NYC Pizza Run becomes one of those events that people who are passionate about running look forward to every year.
“My slim physique is misleading. I don’t run at all.” — Jason Feirman
How do you even begin the process of organizing an event like this? City permits, laws, contests, etc. Anything really interesting to tell us about setting something like this up?
The first step was contacting the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and applying for a permit. I worked with them to find a space and date that would accommodate the type of event I had in mind. That was about six months ago.
In June, I started working with a graphic designer to develop a logo for the race and soon after that, we began working on the website. In July, I secured a place to provide the pizza (Pizza by Cer Té) and a bar to host the afterparty (Common Ground). We went live in early August with the website — seven weeks before the race. Since then it’s just been a lot of logistics — everything from ordering t-shirts and race bibs to pitching the event to media outlets.
So how did you settle on the pizzas?
I was working on a piece about Pizza By Cer Te for I Dream Of Pizza. I mentioned the race to someone in their marketing department and they expressed interest in getting involved. At that point, it seemed like a no-brainer. Their pizza is great and I was honored to get them on board!
So who won? How many pies did we eat? How’d I do? Will you be running next year?
Sixty-five people ran. We went through 27 pies. The winner was Phillip Falk (bib #149). He finished in 14:24, more than two minutes before the next participant. You finished in a very respectable 25:00. I will definitely be making this an annual event, but unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to participate. There as a lot going on logistically during the race that I had to oversee, but thanks to all of the volunteers, everything went smoothly!
This post was originally published September 20th, 2010, on the now-defunct, James-Beard Award-nominated blog AlwaysHungryNY.com.