By Richard Estime
At the tender age of 76, Brooklyn resident Sam Lafata has dealt with more than 3 major health battles including hairy cell leukemia, a heart attack, bladder and prostate cancer, but manages to find within him, the excitement to attend the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation 10K run.
The 10K run gathers runners and walkers of all ages and fitness abilities to the tristate area, exposing them to the rich culture and energy of Bedford-Stuyvesant.
“Running is vital in helping me cope,” he said. “It’s my outlet and I’m excited to be able, in some cases, raise [awareness] for cancer research.”
The 35-year-old race is one of the oldest in Brooklyn and holds great popularity in New York City’s marathons. The top male and female winners of the race are awarded the Robert E. Thomas Memorial Reward amounting in $150, $250 and $500.
Lafata claims he was never the athletic type, but started running while living in Boston a few decades ago. Sunday will mark his second time running the race in the last two years.
“Since then, I’ve been running 35-45 races a year,” he said. “As I’ve faced health challenges, running has been even more important to me in staying focused on my goals and continuing to move forward.”
Besides Lafata, there are many other repeat running enthusiasts along with first-timers.
Former Bed-Stuy resident Katherine Yang, 34, is excited about participating in this year’s race. Yang, who spent most of her childhood days running, picked up the hobby again in 2009. Yang explained that she doesn’t train vigorously before running the marathon. She incorporates 4-5 runs in her weekly routine, loosely following online posts from her running group, the Dashing Whippets.
Yang claims that her preparation for long races such as the 10K include spaghetti and a glass of wine the evening before. She uses capoeira exercises to help her develop upper body strength and her bottom half. “A runner can have really weak glute muscles. Weaknesses in that area often lead to injuries that runners are prone to while training”, she said.
Yang isn’t the only one amped about the 10K run.
Fired up, the exercise class of more than 75 people, both young and old, jogged in place and joined fitness instructor Nakisha Ross in high-energy routines, sweating and burning through fitness limits at the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza on Fulton Street in Brooklyn. The class, which meets every Monday and Wednesday, is a part of the free fitness program offered by Restoration and sponsored by EmblemHealth. Many of the class’ participants are preparing this week for the 10K run scheduled to be held on October 11th at 10 a.m.
As they stretched and jolted intense aerobic moves for 30 minutes (nonstop) to the spiritual R&B classics, they displayed great emotion of excitement and diligence.
43-year-old Corrections Officer Yolunda Silva-Frett, is also planning to race. The vegetarian gym-goer who took advantage of the free aerobic workout session, says that aerobic skating, daily biking of 3.5 miles, power walking and jogging keep her ready for the race.
“I attend an exercise class at Brooklyn Bridge Park every Tuesday,” she said. “And only 2 other people show up.”
The highly anticipated community event also features a 5K Walk, 5K bike ride and a Kid’s Run engaging the whole family and promoting health and wellness to all ends of the spectrum.
For more information about the race, visit www.nycruns.com.
There is time to register; there will be on-site registrations the morning of the race starting at 8 am. Otherwise, come out and cheer others and be inspired.
(Writer Richard Estime is a Senior at Medgar Evers College, CUNY)