Woodhaven road race at the starting line 1

A lone jogger on Forest Parkway earlier this week is the harbinger of many more to come next month when, for the first time, the parkway will be shut down to become part of the course for hundreds of runners in the Forest Park 5 & 10 Mile race.

As a rehearsal for the fledgling Queens Marathon, an upcoming distance race in Woodhaven is being routed through local streets for the first time, organizers said this week.

Forest Parkway — the five-block avenue that connects Jamaica Avenue to Park Lane South — is being closed to traffic for the March 8th running of the Forest Park 5 & 10 Mile, Kevin Montalvo, head of the Queens Distance Runners, told the Chronicle.

The majority of the race, now in its third year, is run on the roads inside Forest Park. But this year, at the midway point, the race route will swing out of the park onto Forest Parkway, said Montalvo.

The Queens Distance Runners sponsors half a dozen road races around the borough every year, including a full-fledged marathon around Flushing Meadows Corona Park in late March.

For the Woodhaven race, runners will emerge from the park at Park Lane South and run down Forest Parkway to a barrier just short of Jamaica Avenue. They’ll turn there and make the run back up Forest Parkway into the park, he said.

“We want to minimize disruption for the folks who live on Forest Parkway,” he said. “But it’s important we use a major artery.”

The street will be shut down for about two hours starting at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning, he said.

The Woodhaven race is an unofficial warmup for the Queens Marathon, the pinnacle of the local runners’ season, two weeks later.

The course for the Queens Marathon, which began in 2016, is completely within the boundaries of Flushing Meadows Corona Park. That’s where the Woodhaven race comes in.

Organizers hope some day soon to expand the marathon from the park to the streets of Queens, like the famous New York City Marathon does.

By running a few shorter races through friendly neighborhoods, the group believes it can convince local officials to grant them the permits needed to turn the Queens Marathon into a boroughwide event.

“We can tell the community boards and the [Business Improvement Districts] we know what it takes to be successful,” Montalvo said.

The campaign to steer the marathon into the streets began this year with shorter races in Woodhaven, Bayside and Corona, he said.

“The idea is that maybe sooner or later we can piece together enough neighborhoods to cover 26.2 miles,” the classic marathon distance, he said.

“The Woodhaven BID is excited to partner with the QDR coming to Woodhaven for the first time,” said Raquel Olivares, executive director of the BID. “This will be a great opportunity for us to promote all the amazing things this neighborhood has to offer.”

The Woodhaven race began in 2018 with about 100 runners, the organizers said. Some 300 people registered last year.

But, Montalvo said, “runners like to run though neighborhoods.”

As a result, as many as 1,000 runners are expected to register for the race in Woodhaven, said the organizer.


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