The Brooklyn Half Marathon Preparty and the Dueling Cliches of Being an Aging Man in a Transforming Borough

Last night, after I went to pick up my bib for the Brooklyn Half Marathon, I posted this on Instagram:

Is there any greater sign that a man has become old then complaining about a party? Probably not. But something about the contrived Brookly-ness of the Brooklyn Half Pre Party really gets to me.

In part it is because they host it on a pier in Brooklyn Bridge Park, a good fifteen minute walk from the train. It is terribly inconvenient and I’m convinced they host it there to encourage runners to spend more time (and money) at the party.

But I also hate it because of the food trucks, beer, and DJs; the photo-ops with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background, and the vast array of merchandise for sale with “Brooklyn” on it.

Its all just a little too much.

Of course, all of this hoopla for a half marathon is, in part, because Brooklyn is having a moment – a sickening moment where it’s teetering on the edge of cool and clichéd. It’s a time when the hedge funds guys still rub shoulders with the municipal workers and teachers; where artisanal bakers can sell to graphic designers and start-up entrepreneurs; where everyone can grow a beard, but very few can afford the rent.

I love this place, I’ve lived here longer than I have lived anywhere else, but as another Brooklynite* said once its “bringing me down”. 

And to me, for whatever reason, the Brooklyn Half Pre-Party is a representation of just how out of control this is all getting — and of how close it all is to falling into pure cliché.

Because you see, big time half marathons are not cool. They never will be. Half marathons are the perfect distance for the average person, long enough to provide a sense of accomplishment, but not so long as to take over your life. They are, by design, run-of-the-mill. Sure midnight halfs, like the one put on by Orchard Street can be cool. But really, if you want cool, you have to go much further, or much shorter.  Half marathons are for the average jogger, the guy with the job, and the kid, and the mortgage.

Guys like me.

And we’re not cool.

Yet we’re also the future of Brooklyn.


Old guys, with child, at last year's Brooklyn Half.
Old guys, with child, at last year’s Brooklyn Half. Note aging punker with tattoos and beard.

Still, what the hell is wrong with me? Who begrudges people a good time on a sunny afternoon in park?

I do, apparently.

And in the end, perhaps that says more about me, and my nostalgia for a Brooklyn long gone, than it says about the goddamn pre-party.

Whatever, who knows. Tomorrow this old man is going to run, which is what the point of this is supposed to be anyway.


*Who owns a goddamn wine bar by the way. 

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