USA Triathlon News Blogs Ordinary Mortals® The Central Park Tri

The Central Park Tri

By Dr. Steve Jonas | Jan. 31, 2021, 10:08 p.m. (ET)

Talking Tri-/Duathlon for Ordinary Mortals®: A Series, (No. 64, 2021/1/29)  

Central Park, which is more or less in the center of New York City’s borough of Manhattan, is one of the world’s great parks.  I am lucky enough to have visited/spent-some-time-in several of the others: Brooklyn, New York’s Prospect Park; London’s Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens and The Regent’s Park; Paris’ Bois de Boulogne and what can be considered a park, the open-to-pedestrians banks of the River Seine that runs through the center of the city; the Villa Borghese Gardens in Rome as well as the Roman Forum at which you can walk where the Republic’s and then the Empire’s famous rulers strode so many centuries ago.  But Central Park has a special meaning for me, for having grown up just a few blocks from its western side, I knew it from childhood.  So when the opportunity to race in it, doing a triathlon no less, presented itself, well, that was special.  And I ended up doing that particular triathlon 18 times between 1991 and 2017.

The 1991 race was the fourth in the series which was started in 1988 by my friend Dan Honig, founding President of the Big Apple, then New York, Triathlon Club.  Dan created so many “firsts” in our sport, including what we think was the very first biathlon, which I wrote about in this space last November.  Over time, the course for the run was changed, but those for the swim and the bike remained the same.  (COVID-19 permitting, the race will be hkled again this year, see:  The swim takes place in the open-air Lasker Pool at the park’s northeast corner.  The start is not the usual triathlon mass start, but rather a one-after-another start, to do six separated lanes in the pool, up-and-back.  The water in the pool is only three feet deep, and Dan had eventually to institute a “no-walking” rule, which did rule out the occasional non-swimmer who had entered the race.  (We regulars got a big kick out of it when this rule was instituted.)  The bike is two loops around the Park drive, totaling 12.4 miles, featuring the “Harlem Hill” at the Park’s northwest corner.  The run course varied over time.

The race always fun and always attracted a core of competitors who, like me were from New York City and surroundings.  So in a sense I grew older over time, in that race.  I always enjoyed the race itself, and although one might be surprised to find it out, the Central Park Drive is fairly hilly.  Nothing too challenging, but lots of ups and downs.  (Although I must say that as I got older, each year getting up the Harlem Hill presented more of a challenge.)  But perhaps the most fun part for those of us who did it year-after-year was the camaraderie that built up among us, over time.  Many of us, myself included, saw our fellow around-the-same-age competitors only that one time each year, at the race.  But that made it even more special.

Although I raced on the New York Triathlon Club’s bi/duathlon course in Central Park 37 times, those were spread over three different events held at different times during the season.  There was no single race that I did more times than the Central Park Tri., and that made it special too.


This series of thoughts and recommendations about multi-sport racing by Dr. Steve Jonas is, over time, drawn in part from his book, 101 Ideas and Insights for Triathletes and Duathletes (Monterey, CA: Healthy Learning/Coaches Choice, 2011), from which text is used with permission. The book can be purchased here and is available at and

Steve’s most recent multisport book is Duathlon Training and Racing for Ordinary Mortals®: Getting Started and Staying with It (Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press/FalconGuides, 2012), available at and

His first book on multi-sport racing, Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals®, 2nd Ed. (New York: WW Norton, 2006) also can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Steve has been racing tri’s and du’s since 1983.  At the end of his 36th season in the sport, 2018, he had done a total of 256 races.  He did not race in 2019 due to his own illness (from which he fully recovered), nor in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  For obvious reasons, 2021 is a maybe.