LIC Man Wins Queens Half Marathon
El Mustafa McHkirate's debut in the Queens Half Marathon last Sunday, September 23, proved to be a complete success. The 26-year-old resident of Long Island City went out fast, surged to the front shortly after the race started, opened the gap between himself and the eventual runnerup and coasted to victory over the new out-andback course on a sunny Sunday morning.
The race started outside MacNeil Park in College Point, went through the streets of College Point, Malba, Beechhurst and Whitestone and wound up inside the park. Conducted by the New York Road Runners Club, the course was changed from a two-loop one to the present one loop.
Most of the runners enjoyed competing on the new course, which had 67 turns. There were 5,345 entrants, most from the tri-state area. But a great majority of the runners did not favor the early start of 7 a.m.
Runners followed a blue line guide during the entire course.
The race was the fourth leg of the halfmarathon series of five races, which concludes with the Staten Island Half-Marathon on October 14.
McHkirate went out at a five-minute pace for the first mile, was timed in 31:25 for the first six miles and wound up in a first-place time of 1:09.29, far ahead of Roberto Puente's secondplace finish of 1:10.58.
Other residents from Queens to finish in the top 25 were Sunnyside's Lino Castro, whose 1:17.25 earned him 10th place, Kew Gardens' Adam Kuklinski's 1:18.44 for 13th place, and Elmhurst's Alberto Gomez 1:21.53, which placed him 23rd.
"I like to do 5K and 10K races," the winner said. "In the half-marathon, I ran for training purposes. And I didn't have any competition."
Meanwhile, Carol Guzinski of Garnerville in Upstate New York, became the female winner in 1:26.47 for 81st place overall. The first Queens female finisher was Stephanie Hodge, whose 1:27.47 earned her 104th place overall.
Some of the athletes who tested the new College Point course are headed to the New York City Marathon.
Khemdat Jainarain of Kew Gardens has as his goal to improve on last year's time of 3:09. The member of the Forest Park Road Runners Club, who ran a 1:22.52 for 28th place overall, made a debut in the Queens Half-Marathon.
"We ran on a tough, hard course as there were too many hills and too many turns," he said. "I ran a slower time than I expected."
The 7 a.m. start is the earliest beginning to a race in the Grand Prix series.
One resident from Whitestone, Yariv Leers, preferred running the new course to the old one. "There aren't too many repeats, like there were last year," said Leers, whose 1:35.33 earned him 306th place overall. "I run for fun." Leers, who competes for the Alley Pond Striders, hopes to qualify for the New York City Marathon in 2008.
Overall, the directors from the host New York Road Runners Club and College Point Road Runners Club were very pleased with all aspects of the race on a brand new course and at a different time of the year. Previously the race was staged during the spring.