A race report by Michelle Henry
Let me start off by saying I’m so excited that I was finally able to do this run! I had been so jealous and wanting to do this since Steve Vida, Jon Durand, and Jason Karpinski did it in 2020. Full disclosure and spoiler alert — I still haven’t done the whole run. But I did 17 of the 28 miles, and I’m proud of that!
What is The Warriors UltraRun?
The Warriors UltraRun is an overnight, underground running experience that covers 28 miles, as participants re-create the escape route from the iconic 1979 film by Walter Hill. After attending a 1 a.m. Conclave, held at a secret location in the Bronx, runners pass iconic shooting sights as they race for Coney Island. It is an unofficial race run by fans, for fans.
This was the 4th annual running of The Warriors UltraRun, which has evolved so much since the founder, Todd Aydelotte, ran the route solo in July 2018. This was also Steve Vida’s 3rd time running it.
The event itself is more fat-ass than race. There is no swag, no aid stations, no timing, no bibs; however, this year (as opposed to previous years), we did get a marked course…sort of. Turns were tagged with “W” and an arrow in chalk. You can read more about it in the article featured in the New York Times last year.
How do you prepare for an overnight run through NYC?
Our prep involved a meeting a few weeks prior to the run, hosted by Steve, complete with a presentation, which included a map of NYC with plotted out (and linked) locations and images showing each of the gangs in the movie and a bit of background on them. Steve was obviously super-excited about our upcoming adventure, as was I.
At the conclusion of the presentation, we watched The Warriors movie and then discussed and decided on our costumes. That’s right–costumes. So not only did we start this run through New York at 1 a.m. and run through the night, but we will also did it dressed as members of an imaginary gang. We decided on being the Hi-Hats, and we each left Steve’s with an info sheet, which he also posted as a PDF on our Facebook group. I mean, really, there wasn’t a more prepared gang of mimes in all of NYC. Steve’s prep for this run was top notch!
Who are the Hi-Hats?
The Hi-Hats are a fictional New York City gang in 1979. They are a quiet, but solid clique from Soho, and they dress like mimes. However, on July 24, 2022, the Hi-Hats were Steve Vida, Julia Hager, Jason Karpinski, Curtis Musser, and myself.
How was the run?
We hopped on the subway and arrived at the pre-run gathering spot, The Tortoise & Hare in The Bronx, at 11:30 p.m. We grabbed a pre-run drink and mingled amongst other runners from all over dressed as gang members. At 1 a.m. we all gathered in a nearby location for the conclave, lit only by headlamps. After listening to an audio replay of a clip from the movie, the race begins at the sound of the gunshot that kills Cyrus. The elite team of Warriors get a bit of a head start, and we are off to chase them all the way down to Coney Island.
The night was hot….I mean REALLY hot. Even at 1 a.m., it was 80 degrees, and the city streets that hold the heat made it feel like it was in the 90s. We did our best to stay hydrated by stopping for water and snacks at bodegas and stores along the way. We hit Columbus Circle at 10 miles, Time Square at 11 miles, Union Square at 12 miles and the Brooklyn Bridge at 15 miles. Along the route we had our own local tour guide (and fellow runner) who kept popping up out of nowhere to show us points of interest like where Malcom X was shot and what running groups run in particular areas, which was pretty cool, but it was also weird when he pointed out places like where he went to elementary school and where his grandmother died.
We made it to the Brooklyn Bridge as the sun was coming up over the city. I was so freaking happy to see that bridge! The sky was colorful and provided a gorgeous background to the structural elements of the bridge itself as we walked over it. Yes–walked. At this point, I had hardly any juice left and was really hurting. Thankfully Steve pre-planned an escape route for Jules and I after we crossed the bridge. Our hotel was just a few blocks away. We hobbled our way back to the hotel as the guys continued. Now able to run at a faster pace, they picked off several other gang members (13?) on their quest to get to Coney Island and finish all 28 miles of the run.
After a bit of rest time, Jules and I took the NYC subway and made our way to Coney Island to meet the guys on the boardwalk for the finish.
Overall, this run was a lot of fun. There was no point throughout the night where I felt like we were in a sketchy situation or unsafe. There are places to stop along the way for refueling and plenty of things to see. The experience of running through the streets of New York in the middle of the night with some of your favorite people is one I highly recommend!