Running Brooklyn: Red Hook

I had the pleasure of running in Red Hook three days in a row this weekend. The culmination of this streak was the Red Hook Criterion on Saturday night.

The Crit, as it is known, is in its sixth year. Its main feature is a 30-kilometer cycling road race on a 1.25 km circuit near the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. Last year they added men’s and women’s 5Ks as undercards. The fast and flat course made for many personal records (PRs), including for yours truly.

The event was a big attraction, bringing together world-class athletes, adrenaline junkies, running and cycling teammates, local residents, and rubberneckers hoping for a big pileup. What a great event for a ravaged community.

The cycling race at the Crit.

The cycling race at the Crit.

It was also a perfect bookend for my run on Thursday, when I did some sightseeing.

I formally visited Red Hook in late September, a month before Sandy tore through. This was my first real trip back since then. I was pleased with what I saw; except for a few spots, everything looked like it was back to normal. Of course, external appearances do not always correspond with reality.

My route of choice from Park Slope was Ninth Street. This took me under the Culver Viaduct, which has been under renovation for several years. It will finally reopen the week of April 22 - much to the delight of Carroll Gardens and Gowanus residents, who have been without the 9th Street-Smith Street F/G station for a long time.

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On Imlay Street, the two former New York Dock Company buildings loom large. 62 Imlay Street, left, now serves as a warehouse for Christie’s; the future of 160 Imlay Street, right, is still up in the air after a plan for a co-op fell through.

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Trash was present in a few spots. I don’t know if these are remnants of Sandy or just the general clutter that aggregates in an industrial area.

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Two places that suffered damage in Sandy were Sunny’s and Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies. Not that I would have stopped in for a whisky, but Sunny’s was closed; Steve’s was open, but I felt something sweet would have been a bad idea for the rest of my run.

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A few old standbys of Red Hook: the Port of New York Authority Grain Terminal and one of the many cranes used to haul up cargo from boats.

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I made a few furry friends on my travel.

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Lunch was at Defonte’s, the popular sandwich shop. Open since 1922, it serves gargantuan  hoagies on delicious bread. My 1/2 Red Hook Special – chicken cutlet, melted American cheese, sliced turkey, lettuce, tomato, bacon, gravy(!), and mayo – was large enough for two meals, even after this run.

Oh yeah, I ran home with it. Weighing in at around three pounds, the sandwich provided a great upper-body workout.

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On my 2.5-mile run back to Park Slope from Defonte’s, my sandwich teasing both my nose and my arms, I saw and heard what I consider the first official sign of spring: a Mister Softee truck. It was a touch too cold for ice cream, but I appreciated the vendor’s effort. He was circling Carroll Park.

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And what about my Friday run, you ask? Don’t run around industrial areas at night if you don’t absolutely have to. They’re dark and scary.

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