by: Sydney Valerio
On a hot summer New York City day, Orchard Beach’s boardwalk can feel like it is three miles long, not just because of the burn felt by bare-sandridden-feet as they run/walk on its heated planks but also because of how jam packed it becomes as people seek fun and refuge in the borough’s only public beach.
So, when Race The Bronx announced its inaugural Orchard Beach Mile happening on Sunday, April 30th, my mind went immediately to the fact that the emptied boardwalk would be a runner’s delight. Now what you read is not in jest--imagine an early morning access to a boardwalk on an April day. The one mile stretch welcomes your sneakers with the greenery of Pelham Bay park on one side and the ocean air from the Long Island Sound on the other.
Laid out in a crescent shape, with a width of 200 feet, “Orchard Beach was proclaimed ‘The Riviera of New York’ when it was created in the 1930s and is a 115-acre, 1.1-mile-long beach (NYC Parks Dept.). It was named for the numerous orchards behind it.
Runners will be racing in age-specific heats. There is also an option to run a Friends & Family Mile. The day is set out to be an exciting one filled with the sounds of the waves combining with the loud cheers from a supportive crowd. You already know the vibes runners bring to the Race The Bronx events.
Has the boardwalk been used by other groups to host events? Yes. It’s a fact we are happy to celebrate. 5K Turkey trots are hosted at the Orchard Beach boardwalk. Local runners use Pelham Bay park for long runs and use the boardwalk as a destination for an event. For example, Pints & Pavements has hosted a Pints & Plunge event on New Year’s Day for the last two years in which runners meet up in the West side of the Bronx and run to take a polar plunge in Orchard Beach. According to their Captain Evie, the boardwalk was part of the marathon route they ran in 2019. They also have used Orchard Beach for their Pints & Playas events which start with a run to Orchard Beach’s boardwalk and end with sand filled fun.
The Orchard Beach Mile is part of the Race The Bronx series which aims to promote health and wellness in the Bronx while highlighting the beauty and diversity of the borough’s parks. It promises to provide exclusive event sunglasses for the first 300 runners who show up to the race. More importantly, it’s reminding us to be active, enjoy our community and show up for it. See you there!