• Brooke’s Marathon Journey: Starting miles

    The marathon was two days after Josh’s birthday and one week before the anniversary of his death. I’d packed Lara bars, sports beans, and a bag of toasted white sesame seeds, which Josh put on everything and now I do, too.

    It was a stunning day of sunny blue skies–no garbage bag poncho needed.

    As Sebastian and I ran across the freshly paved Verrazano Bridge, sunlight glinted off of the Narrows and we had a pristine view of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. A fireboat shot off celebratory arcs of water, a rainbow hanging in their mist. We were part of an ecstatic mass of over 50,000 runners from around the world. “This is so cool, Sebastian,” I kept saying. “This is just so cool!   

    I usually run with headphones, but there was such wonderful people watching, music, and fanfare that I didn’t miss my music at all for the first half of the marathon. The first stop was at 4th Avenue and 8th Street, where my friends Mackenzie and Jared had come out to cheer with the two little boys they were babysitting. All four of them were holding signs. I hugged them all, including the two little boys, who were not so into hugging a sweaty stranger, but my enthusiasm could not be contained. I met Mackenzie at my first race, the freezing Joe Kleinerman 10K in January 2012, riding the subway up from Crown Heights to Central Park. We’d stayed close even after an injury prevented her from running. In the 4 years since, I’d seen her marry Jared, and now, five months pregnant, she’d stood out in the cold to cheer for me.

    Stephanie and Erwin were at Lafayette and Claremont, Erwin holding up a massive blackboard sign. Right after Josh died, a friend from London, the wonderful Brenda Lyons, connected me to Stephanie, who’d recently moved here from London. Brenda thought we’d make good cycling partners and, likely, that it would be good for me to get out on some rides. While Stephanie’s a far more serious cyclist than I am, we rode to Nyack together. I told her about Josh and she told me that her boyfriend Erwin, an even more serious cyclist and tri-athlete, had been recently diagnosed with PSC. Given the rarity of PSC, it was a startling connection. Even more impressive was Stephanie’s story of how Erwin’s diagnosis had inspired them to uproot their lives and take huge career risks to move to New York. We’ve had wonderful adventures and conversations ever since. We were so worried about not finding each other that when we did, we went in for a double hug. Stephanie and Erwin not only cheered me on, but took me out for a celebratory dinner. Stephanie and I laughed about how our hug felt like we’d crossed an ocean to find each other. All of my marathon hugs felt like that. There was–again–that heightened sense of connection that I felt in the wake of Josh’s death.

    The awesome CHRC cheering squad was at Mile 9.

    They speed-inked personalized signs when they saw Sebastian and I approaching on their marathon apps, showered us with cheers and high-fives, and captured our dorky euphoria on film.

    Jason, Josh’s best friend, whom I’d cried with when Josh was dying and stayed close to after he was gone, popped up out of nowhere on Bedford Avenue. Jason hadn’t told me he was coming and it was a miracle that he found me. Especially, he pointed out later, as I was wearing “all black with a strip of masking tape.” An artist good at making things, he said, “Next year, I’m making your name tag.” I hugged Jason, the best surprise and Where’s Waldo Winner of the marathon, and then Sebastian and I were off.

    My mom, stepdad, and sister were at Mile 12.

    My mom and stepdad flew in from South Texas, my sister from London, to spend the weekend carb-loading with me and to embarrass me with signs like, “Run Brookster the Hipster”. Sebastian and I posed holding a poster that read, “Brooke is leaving Trump behind and going NASTY!” Sebastian, in his saintliness, waited for probably 5 minutes while my mom got a stranger to take multiple mother-daughter pictures. My sister, who’d sailed through last year’s marathon, guided my parents around Brooklyn and Manhattan, to meet me at Miles 12 and 25. My stepdad has Alzheimer’s and it was a lot for him to run around the city like that. My sister took a red-eye back to London that night and had to work the next morning.

    Sebastian doing all of the pacing while I rode in the sidecar, blowing kisses at the crowds, worked out great for me until Mile 18 when a bathroom stop became immediately mandatory. Having PSC means having stomach problems. It can mean a lot more debilitating things, but I’ve been very lucky. “Keep going–good luck!” I called to Sebastian as I frantically climbed over the barricade and ran into Le Pain Quotidien. My legs were shaky, but spectators helped me over the fence. A policeman waiting in line for the bathroom let me go first. Until this point, Sebastian and I had smoothly hit or beat our goal of a 10-minute mile. Even with all of my hugging delays, Sebastian would continue on to a brilliant finish, beating his previous year’s time and his goal for  this year. I was so proud of him.

    Written by Brooke Shaffner – one of our dear members of Running Royalty and former Marathon Water Wench.

    **Read parts 1 and 2 of Brooke’s Marathon Journey HERE and HERE. Come back and read how Brooke finishes her first marathon tomorrow in the last chapter.**

  • Brooke’s Marathon Journey: The beginning

    The last two miles of the marathon, I listened to “When I Was Done Dying” by Dan Deacon on repeat. When I crossed the finish line, I felt tired and alive. Reborn.

    I never wanted to run a marathon.

    It seemed a nice but rather dull thing for other people to do. I liked mixing my runs with kickboxing, spinning, and boot camp classes. I was happy to plateau at half-marathon. Waiting for the Brooklyn Half to begin one year, I overheard two 20-something women talking. “Training for a half is time consuming,” one of them said. “I don’t know how people find time to train for a marathon. Maybe when all of my friends get married, have babies, and move to the suburbs, I’ll have a marathon and a dog.” I was middle-aged and a number of my friends were having babies, though they hadn’t moved to the suburbs. Yet. I also wanted a dog. ‘Maybe,’ I thought.

    Then I was charged with heading up a team of 20 CHRC volunteers at the Mile 8 water station for the November 1st 2015 NYC marathon. I’m working on a novel that deals with the intersection of the immigrant and LGBTQ communities. I’d done some related advocacy projects that connected me to organizations I wanted to devote my free time to. I lacked the same enthusiasm about volunteering at the marathon with its $255 entry fee. But I was committed to contributing to a running club I’d loved since my first winter run with Danielle. A club made up of warm, kind, funny, fascinating people, every one of whom I felt unequivocal affection for. So I believed I was doing it for CHRC.     

    I didn’t know that the man I’d hoped to spend my life with would begin dying that Day.

    After 7 years of besting cancer, it came back. The day before the 2015 marathon he’d told me he wasn’t strong enough to undergo the experimental treatment we’d stored so much hope in. When your life falls apart, it’s good to have things you’ve committed to do for others. It’s good to have simple things to do with your hands and eyes, heart and brain.

    I looked in the eyes of every marathon runner I handed water to. I smiled and called out their names. I absorbed all of that life rushing toward me.

    On November 5th, a day after his 43rd birthday, my boyfriend left for L.A., where he would start home hospice care with his family. In the two days before I could fly out to be with him, I frantically researched alternative treatments and contacted macrobiotic counselors who said they’d seen cancer patients turn around. 

    And I decided to run the 2016 marathon.

    I knew that training for 26 miles with a club of people I loved would offer me community and structure. When I could no longer deny the fact that Josh was going to die, the marathon was a path forward.

    I was diagnosed with the liver disease primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) 16 years ago. Josh and I didn’t identify with our diseases. Symptoms punctuated our days, but we’d made wonderful lives around them. We identified as writers, teachers, and Brooklyn flâneurs. We didn’t want to march in parades or attend conferences about our diseases. I didn’t want to run the marathon for cancer. Or PSC. I wanted to run it in celebration of life in all of its wonder, absurdity, and heartbreak, which Josh had loved like he’d loved me. Life exactly as it is and exactly as it isn’t. He told his hospice doctor that he loved his family, friends, work, and life so much. He just wished he had more of it.

    I scrambled to complete the 3 races and 1 volunteer activity needed to gain 9+1 entry into the 2016 marathon. My ninth race was the New Year’s Eve Midnight Run.There were no volunteer activities left, so CHRC-mate Kaitlyn transferred her extra volunteer spot to me. I volunteered the day after Josh died.

    Written by Brooke Shaffner – one of our dear members of Running Royalty and former Marathon Water Wench.

    **Come back and read the rest of Brooke’s Marathon story this week!**

  • Race Report: MORE/SHAPE Women’s Half-Marathon & Boston Marathon

    What great running weather we’re having!

    Danielle Wheeler, Susan Matthews, and Rachel Wyant, took advantage of the clear skies on Sunday, April 17 and repped #CHRCWomen at the 13th anniversary of the MORE/SHAPE Women’s Half-Marathon. With two full loops in Central Park, it was also plenty of hill repeats!

    In other hill news, on Monday, April 18, Kay Naito repped #CHRC at the most prestigious marathon in the world: Boston Marathon! Pushing past Heartbreak Hill, this marks Kay’s first Boston Marathon finish and makes her the first CHRC member to finish in the 120 years of the Boston Marathon!

    Congratulations to everyone! Here are the Top 5 #CHRCWomen in the half marathon and full marathon categories:

    Half Marathon

    # Time Date Event CHRC Runner
    1 1:44:21 3/20/2016 United Airlines NYC Half 2016 Elly Kuhlman
    2 1:47:40 3/20/2016 United Airlines NYC Half 2016 Jess Setless
    3 1:49:58 4/17/2016 More/Shape Women’s Half Marathon Danielle Wheeler
    4 1:54:57 4/17/2016 More/Shape Women’s Half Marathon Susan Matthews *PR*
    5 1:58:53 4/17/2016 More/Shape Women’s Half Marathon Rachael Wyant *PR*



    # Time Date Event CHRC Runner
    1 3:29:48 4/18/2016 Boston Marathon Kay Naito
    2 4:44:35 3/19/2016 Savin Rock Marathon Kaitlyn Kociela

    Don’t see your name but finished a race this weekend? Make sure to submit it!

  • Race Report: Run for the Parks (4M)

    It was a sunny and windy Sunday, April 10 in the 4 mile inner loop of Central Park. But that didn’t stop 6,900+ runners from racing at the City Park Foundations Run for the Parks!

    Although it wasn’t a Club Points race, congratulations to Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste, Jess Setless, Sunny Kasabwala, David Gibbons, Nick Collins, Wei Wang, and Yosef Bergovoy for representing #CHRC. Some members even finished with a PR!

    Here are the Top 5 in the 4 mile distance for 2016:

    CHRC Women (4M)

    # Time Date Event CHRC Runner
    1 0:29:46 3/26/2016 Al Gordon 4M Monica Merlis
    2 0:31:12 1/9/2016 City Parks Foundation Run for the Parks Jess Setless *PR*
    3 0:33:10 1/9/2016 Al Gordon 4M Rachael Wyant
    4 0:33:32 3/26/2016 Al Gordon 4M Laura Zukaite
    5 0:33:46 1/9/2016 City Parks Foundation Run for the Parks Wei Wang *PR*

    CHRC Men (4M)

    # Time Date Event CHRC Runner
    1 0:27:36 2/7/2016 Gridiron 4M Robert Lynn
    2 0:28:08 2/21/2016 Al Gordon 4M Nigel McGregor
    3 0:29:59 4/10/2016 City Parks Foundation Run for the Parks Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste *PR*
    4 0:30:34 2/21/2016 Al Gordon 4M Nathon Turner
    5 0:32:30 4/10/2016 City Parks Foundation Run for the Parks Sunny Kasabwala *PR*

    Be sure to check out the Top 5 CHRC Women and CHRC Men for other distances. There’s still time to place yourself among the ranks! (Submit your results on the Racing page).


    The next and third Club Points race is the popular Airbnb Brooklyn Half which sold out in less than an hour!

    Don’t forget to pick up your #CHRC gear at the Meet’N’Greet!

  • Spring NYRR Club Points Races

    Scotland 10k April 2, 8:00am @ Central Park

    NYRR Retro 4-Miler June 5, 8:30am @ Central Park

    Front Runners New York LGBT Pride Run 5 Miles June 25, 8:30am @ Central Park

    Get’m while they’re hot! On sale for $18 each till February 29.

  • New Run schedule

    Signed up for that race? Added yourself to the CHRC roster?

    Congratulations! You’ve COMMITTED!

    Commitment issues no more. You and your running are in a relationship (way before Valentines Day, well done) and the CHRC community is here to support your relationship. Many of us know too well the challenges and the euphoric times that come with this territory. We trust that you know yourself best when it comes to whether the relationship is going to work but no matter what, we encourage you to use our Weekly Group Runs, Social Events and Race Rallying to get the most enjoyment out of Running. We hope you are together for life!

    NEW GROUP RUN SCHEDULE **Schedule is subject to change. Please utilize our Calendar for updates**

    MONDAY: 6:30a.m. Newbie Run

    THURSDAY: 6:30a.m. Run & Some

    SATURDAY: 10:00a.m. Long One

    SUNDAY: 11:00a.m. Trail Run

    We have received requests for evening runs, speed and hill workouts. Unfortunately, at this time we do not have run leaders that are able to support these runs on a regularly scheduled basis. Pop-up Runs that cater to these requests by run leaders will be advertised on the Calendar and on the Facebook Group. If you are interested in leading runs, please contact us at runningroyalty01@gmail.com.

    Some resources that might assist you:

    NYRR Group Training  – Tuesday & Thursday mornings and evenings

    Hook & Honerkamp – Tuesday mornings



    The club points races through NYRR have been voted on and finalized by the Club Council this week! We encourage members to participate in races throughout the year. Please refer to our Racing page for more information.

    In upcoming weeks we will have informational events for you to learn about racing as part of CHRC. Stay Tuned!

  • Run for Your Life: Celebrating Fred Lebow

    Looking for a bit of run-spiration to keep you going during this cold winter week leading into Sunday’s NYRR Fred Lebow Manhattan Half Marathon?

    Fred Lebow is a running legend in New York City whose accomplishments as the president of New York Road Runners and the race director of the New York City Marathon from 1972 until 1994 are among the foundations that make running in this city such a great experience.

    CHRC is co-sponsoring the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY)’s Fred Lebow Week programs accompanying their exhibition, The New York City Marathon: The Great Race (closes March 8). CHRC Members get $10 discount tickets using the code RUN3 at the following events this week. See you there!



    Run this City: The Highs and Lows of Running in New York
    Thursday, January 21 at 6:30 pm

    What makes New York City one of the great running capitals of the world? Are there hidden runners’ gems in this city? Join journalist Liz Robbins and Mary Wittenberg, former president of NYRR for a conversation about the New York runner’s soul. They’ll discuss how runners define this city – and how NYC defines them.

    Liz Robbins is the author of A Race Like No Other: 26.2 Miles Through the Streets of New York(2009). A former sportswriter (and current cyclist), she now covers immigration for The New York Times’  Metro section.

    Mary Wittenberg headed New York Road Runners for over a decade; she is now the Global CEO of Virgin Sport.

    Run for Your Life Film Screening with Judd Ehrlich and George Hirsch 

    Saturday, January 23 at 3:00 pmevent2

    Fred Lebow, a Romanian immigrant to New York fleeing the chaotic aftermath of World War II, was an unlikely leader of the city’s running revolution. He fell in love with the sport on his first run around the Central Park Reservoir and from there joined the New York Road Runners in the late 1960s when it was just a small club run out of its members’ apartments. By 1970, under his leadership, the Road Runners founded the New York City Marathon and have since grown the race into the marquis event that it is today. In celebration of the Fred Lebow Manhattan Half, join us for a screening of Run for Your Life, a documentary film chronicling Lebow’s life with archival footage and exclusive interviews.

    The movie will be followed by a conversation with its Emmy Award winning director, Judd Ehrlich and George Hirsch, a founder of the five-borough NYC Marathon in 1976 and Chairman of the Board of the New York Road Runners, about how Lebow’s tenacity and passion for running united a divided city and sparked a worldwide fitness boom.



  • It’s off to the Races!

    January! This is a good time of year to not only soak in some winter reading, Netflix watching, and hot toddies but also some deep thinking about what lies ahead for you this year in running.

    Have you set your sights on goals and plans to get you moving toward these important goals? Whatever it is you’re working toward, remember also to identify what it is that motivates you! This is going to keep you going through the dark winter runs, the cold, the last 200m of that run.

    CHRC encourages members to sign up for races as goals for fitness and community. We are looking forward to participating and supporting members in:




    • January 8-11: Leatherman’s Loop 2016. Entry by lottery. We are grouped under #CHRCTrails. COMPLETE! Hope you’ll be running with us this April. Remember to register to finalize your entry!
    • January 21: TCS NYC Marathon 2016. Apply for entry by lottery or claim your guaranteed entry
    • January 28: AirBnB Brooklyn Half Marathon 2016. Registration opens at noon and is expected to sell-out in hours. #CHRCWomen and #CHRCMen – this is a Club points race!


    january royal court

    Too many choices and not sure where to start? Come and talk to us. Don’t miss our first event of the year!

    January’s Royal Court is on Monday the 25th 7:30-9:30pm. Find our friendly members at 99Rogers. Come join us for an evening of beverages and merriment!

  • Guest Post: Marathon Water Wench

    This Guest Post comes from Brooke, our favorite Marathon Water Wench, who courageously gathered the CHRC Volunteer forces for action at this year’s NYC Marathon. Thank you to all our volunteers and to Brooke for heading this up!


    4 Weeks Ago, Eighteen Noble Knights showed up at 6:30 am on November 1st to represent the CHRC by volunteering at the 2015 New York City Marathon. It was a momentous day. The majority of CHRC was stationed at the Mile 8 Barclays Center Hydration Station, looking HOT HOT HOT in our uniforms of voluminous green ponchos and itchy wool hats, handing out water and Gatorade until 2:30 pm.

    Mile 8 was a great place to be stationed as the happy endorphins were kicking in and most of the runners who passed us were smiling, swept up in marathon euphoria.

    We were a mere 2 knights shy of earning a guaranteed marathon entry for 2016, so we have a goal to aim for next year. Goals aside, it was a day of so much connection and jubilation. We Noble Knights spread the Good Word about CHRC, chatting it up with lots of runner volunteers who’d never heard of us before. The fun continued later that afternoon, with Good Lady Yael Elmatad hosting a potluck feast at her lovely manor house for all the volunteers and runners. Who knew a tofu-based chocolate mousse could be so scrumptious?! Thank you, Lady Yael, for that recipe, and for your warmth and hospitality.

    Just days before I led CHRC’s group at Mile 8 as Ye Olde Marathon Water Wench, my boyfriend, who had cancer, told me that he was entering hospice care with his family in California.CHRC Brooke In the midst of so much sadness, it felt profound to have so much life–in all shapes, sizes, and paces–rushing toward me. It was wonderful to look all those lives in the eyes and smile. “Great smile!” one lovely 60-something woman called out. (She was clearly hitting on me.) The marathon seemed a metaphor for this big, beautiful, heartbreaking life we inhabit, and all the ways we find our way through it. I’d never had any desire to run a marathon before, but after volunteering, I did.

    I’m cramming in the 3 races I need to make 9, and looking forward to training for those 26 miles with the CHRC community. Thanks to all you Noble Knights who volunteered and all the people who made the marathon possible and all the runners running toward me. You helped me to remember what it is to be alive.



    Here’s to nabbing that guaranteed entry next year, and to 26 euphoric, grueling miles of life!

    Volunteer Opportunities for the 2016 NYC Marathon are already accepting applications. Sign up today —>www.tcsnycmarathon.org/volunteers-for-2015/opportunities

  • The In-between Period

    Whether it was for personal fitness or getting to a big fall race, for many of us, our summer training cycle is complete. We’ve rewarded ourselves, celebrated… Enter the dreaded/beloved ~~ In-Between Period ~~
    Maybe you start questioning before each run – do I want to run OR do I want to ______ (snooze, eat this donut, watch another episode, etc.) What do YOU choose?
    Frozen giphy
    We have some suggestions for our Royal Members:

    1) Come and join us at our upcoming events.

    The end of the calendar year brings opportunities to get together with friends and family, eat comforting meals and drink merrily. Our every-growing running family is no different!
    •  November Royal Court. On Monday November 23rd @99 Rogers from 7:30pm onwards. Come let’s talk of winter runs & treat our parched lips to some delicious brew! RSVP on Facebook!
    • 2nd Annual Royal Winter Runderland. On Friday December 18th. Celebrate the end of an awesome year of CHRC running. RSVP on Facebook!

    2) Give back to Running.

    #CHRCWomen supports the mission of Girls on the Run. On Sunday December 6th on Randall’s Island, Join us as a Runner (accompanying 3rd-5th graders complete their first 5k!) or Volunteer for this incredibly special day for the girls in our program! Register now at www.gotrnyc.org/5kinfo.

    3) Running and Racing in the winter is FUN! pie and cocoa

    Not only do you get bragging rights and look like a badass, you get to recover with hot cocoa and pie. What else could you want?
    #CHRCWomen and #CHRCMen, the final NYRR Club Points Race of the year still has space for you! Sign up and run with us at the Ted Corbitt 15K on Saturday December 12. Let’s end the year with a bang!

    Whatever you choose to do, we’re here for you. 

    Let’s chat about it while we go for a casual fun run!