Submitted by Young Cho
10k in the Most Diverse Place on the Planet
You read that right. Not only is Queens the most diverse borough, it is the most diverse place on the planet according to the Guinness Book of World Records. You may think that Queens 10K does not have the appeal of some of the other borough races (coughBrooklyncough), but you’re missing out if you think Queens has nothing to offer. Besides, what better place to find a queen than the city of Queens?
The race takes place in Flushing Meadows Corona Park – the home of the Mets, US Open Tennis, and the site of 1964-65 World’s Fair. Much of the structures from the World’s Fair went into disrepair, but the iconic Unisphere stands tall and it is a rather impressive structure if you haven’t seen it in person.
Here’s a picture of a spaceship crashing through the Unisphere.
The structures that were reimagined as spaceships by MIB are in the park too, but that’s enough about Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.
Let’s get the two most difficult things about the Queens 10K out of the way before we talk about anything else.
1 – Getting to the Start
For those that barely venture outside of their own boroughs (you know who you are), Flushing Meadows Corona Park may seem like an eternity away. I often travel over an hour to get to a Manhattan race, so I have no sympathy, but I understand how when you can roll out of bed to a race, traveling can be a pain. What compounds the problem is that there really is only one viable public transit. Last year, the 7 train had issues which delayed a lot of people. The key is to leave early.
However, there are two other options that are never advertised since it doesn’t stop at the park.
LIRR from Penn Station to Flushing is an option for those inclined to spend a little extra ($4.25 with a City Ticket bought at the station) for the comfort. The only issue is that the trains only run every 30 minutes on weekends, and it drops you off at Flushing Main Street, which is about a mile away from the start. It won’t save you time, but may save you some hassle.
For the more adventurous, you may want to try the Chinatown to Flushing shuttle bus. Operated by Zhong Hua, you pay $3 and you’re shuttled from Division St and Bowery in Chinatown to the Flushing LIRR station in about 30 minutes, and once again, it’s about a mile to the start. It is a point to point shuttle bus, no hassle. No schedule either. As soon as one bus fills up, it leaves.
There is also a shuttle bus from Brooklyn Chinatown (Sunset Park) that takes about 40-60 minutes. The price is a little more though.
2 – Weather
It is late June, so it’ll be hot and humid. Hope for some cloud cover as the course isn’t that shaded. Wear appropriate clothing (light clothing, cap, sunscreen, etc), and be sure to hydrate. I have seen much stronger runners than me sidelined due to the heat at this event. Be prepared to grab water at each water station if only to cool yourself down with it. Run smart.
1 – The Course
The Queens portion of the Five Borough Series went through several iterations over the years, and this year is no exception. They changed the course ever so slightly where they moved up the course about a half a mile at the start and extended the section around the Unisphere.
The course is mostly flat. I cannot say that it is completely flat as there are some bumps, but it’s a fast course. If you don’t believe me, this is the elevation map, which fluctuates from 10 ft to 20 ft in elevation at most.
As I stated previously, the start has moved to Meridian Road instead of starting by the main promenade. Meridian Road has always been a bottle neck in the past as it was a narrow section that followed as soon as the race started. By starting there, it is my opinion that the bottleneck would be lessened, especially with a staggered start.
The course leads you around Meadow Lake, and just before mile 3, you’ll cross the overpass back onto the main section of the park. This overpass is the bump you see in the middle of the elevation map above.
It’s mostly flat again as you head towards Citi Field and you’ll make the turnaround at around Mile 4.5. The last short bump around mile 5.25 is when you make the left heading towards the Unisphere. Once you round the Unisphere, you have about 600 to 700 meters to the finish.
2 – Food
So you completed the 10K. What now? Board the 7 train and head back? What is your hurry? You made the trip, so might as well take advantage of what Queens has to offer. Flushing is home to some of the best Chinese food and Korean food in the city. Not only that, all along the 7 train, you can find Mexican, Filipino, Ecuadoran, Indian, Thai, Salvadoran, Turkish, and other international cuisine that unless you have dietary restrictions, you can surely find something to eat.
Photo by Ben Ko