Congratulations to the RRR members and non-members who took the RRR bus to New York City on Sunday, Sept. 30 to take part in the 11th annual Tunnel to Towers 5K. Special congratulations go to RRR member Caitrin Demchko of Pearl River and her older sister, Erin Demchko, who now lives in Virginia. Caitrin successfully defended her title in the women’s division, clocking 20:23 for the 3.1-mile route through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to place 12th overall and capture her second consecutive women’s championship. Erin, who also starred for Pearl River High School and later the U.S. Naval Academy, placed second in the women’s division and 14th overall in 20:59. She also won the Armed Forces division.

Here are the first-person accounts of two runners who took the RRR bus to the race, Adrienne Carey and Eric Shatz.

Adrienne Carey

I was excited to participate in such a wonderful event. The bus ride down was great, made me feel like I was on a field trip with my BFFs. I was staggered by the overwhelming number of runners and walkers. It was so emotional running through the
tunnel with all the songs and cheers. It was sobering coming out of the tunnel to see the NYFD, West Point and military flag holders. I actually had to stop, look around and catch my breath, not from exertion but from raw emotion. They were thanking us for our support! This was an amazing experience and an honor to be a part of such great event!

Eric Shatz

I should not have spent the extra money for a timing chip bib for this event as they don’t stagger the start enough to give you any room to run. I did 53:17 for the 5K but without the traffic I might have run a lot faster.

The first leg of the run is in the Battery Tunnel (now the Hugh Carey Tunnel). About two-thirds of the way in the roadway it begins to rise maybe at a 3% or 4% grade, but if you tried to start the race too fast you’ll notice it now. The tunnel is also very steamy and full of echoes.

The next leg spins you around the Battery to the Esplanade along Battery Park City before it turns back toward Broadway and a flat-out to the finish line right next to the Freedom Tower site (Mayor Bloomberg’s Taj Mahal). You have to keep moving because of the crowd still running behind you. Some people feel the urge to stop short right at the finish to pose for their iPhone camera and they get slammed into.

The race organizers also provide a block party, free banana, water, coffee, doughnut, burgers, ribs and hot dogs. Beer was also available, for a nominal charge. The organizers stationed an undersized T-shirt distribution booth away from the street but right across from the beer stands.

And a lot of Bud Light beer was consumed. Most of the participants were first responders – firefighters, cops, civil air patrol, reservists, some of whom came from as far away as New Zealand, or friends and family thereof. Another contingent is military academy cadets (companies of cadets from the various services compete). There are also disabled Iraq and Afghanistan war vets, often trying to make the run on racing blades while a friend keeps their wheelchair handy.

The event was capped off with a short speech by former Mayor Giuliani, who continues to this day to wrap himself in the 9/11 flag, and a performance by actor Gary Sinise’s band.

left to right: RRR Members Adrienne, Carolyn and Theresa.

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