Harlem has always held a rich sports history that people within the community gravitate toward. Whether it was Julius “Dr. J” Irving drawing crowds of hundreds to see him play at the Rucker or Harlemites claiming to be the best tennis players in the city, sports is embedded in the history of the area. The 2015 Harlem Week will add to that legacy, as the events ahead will be electric and exciting.
Basketball games at Rucker Park and the Percy Sutton 5K Run are the two big sporting events that will draw large audiences. Both have proved to be successful and will continue to be staples of Harlem Week.
Marco Noble, from the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, spoke about why his organization chose to put a focus on sports during Harlem Week.
“When you look at Harlem’s history, you think about sports, you think about the Rucker, you think about tennis,” Noble said. “If you’re a tennis fan, you’ve been to the courts on 155th Street called ‘The Jungle.’ You think about Harlem junior tennis league and people who came from there.
“Life lessons, team work, conditioning, using your body and how to react to situations are very important components to Harlem Week and the future, and it can be a positive outlet. Sporting is very important, and that is why we continue to host events during Harlem Week.”
Perhaps the biggest sporting event during Harlem Week that continues to grow and become more popular is the Percy Sutton 5K Run. The New York Road Runners have created a run that allows runners and walkers to travel through Harlem. New President of Events and TCS New York City Marathon Race Director Peter Ciaccia went into detail about the run.
“First and foremost, Harlem is a very important community for New York Road Runners. The marathon goes through Harlem, and we have done a lot of work with that community through the years,” Ciaccia said. “This is the seventh year of this relationship between New York Road Runners and the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce. We are like family. The event has over the years steadily grown. We had 4,500 finishers last year, and we are very proud it is meeting the goals of getting the Harlem community healthy and fit and spending the day out there and enjoying the outdoors.”
The 5K run is an event in which all are welcome to participate, the motive being to help make the community healthier and more active. “For the runners, it’s a 5K run,” said ciaccia. We don’t offer many 5K runs in the city. What is cool about it is that it’s in Harlem. There is so much history here that you wouldn’t get in another race. It is more than a run—it supports the community in arts and sports.”
With the event getting ready to kick off soon, the objective is to get as many young and older people within the community involved and healthy.