Mayor Bill de Blasio (158804)
Credit: Bill Moore

The 2015 Percy Sutton Harlem 5K Run: Celebrating the Journey and the Percy Sutton Harlem Walk: Celebrating the Journey, Full STEAM Ahead, the final events of Harlem Week, took place Saturday, Aug. 22 and saw a record number of finishers at 4,727, a special visit by Mayor Bill de Blasio at the start of the event, inspiring participation by NYRR youth runners and senior walkers and unprecedented community impact in Harlem.

“The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K Run and 1.5­ Mile Walk has grown into a true community event, showcasing a depth of diversity that celebrates the fabric of this city and the heart of the Harlem community,” said Peter Ciaccia, president of events for New York Road Runners and race director of the TCS New York City Marathon. “NYRR is forever grateful for Percy Sutton’s role in growing the New York City Marathon into all five boroughs, and the run and walk honor him and celebrate the history and beauty found in Harlem.”

“Saturday’s events exemplified New York Road Runners’ impact on the health and wellness of communities,” said Michael Capiraso, president and CEO of New York Road Runners. “From the inspiring participation of NYRR youth runners and senior walkers, to the thousands of community members of all ages and abilities who came out to run, walk and support one another, this event was about engaging and positively impacting the Harlem community. It was our honor to partner with Harlem Week and donate a portion of the event’s proceeds to the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce to support their significant work in the community.”

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K Run and 1.5­ Mile Walk were part of Harlem Week, a month­long celebration of the Harlem community’s rich economic, political and cultural history. The run and walk paid tribute to Harlem’s special history and leading role in today’s culture and honored Sutton (1920 to 2009), the Manhattan borough president in the 1960s and 1970s who championed running. Sutton played a key role in taking the New York City Marathon into all five boroughs in 1976.

The event, which saw a record 4,727 finishers, began with a special visit by de Blasio. It was the mayor’s first appearance at this event, and he sent the runners and walkers with words of encouragement.

For the first time, NYRR donated a portion of the event proceeds to the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce’s scholarship programs. The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce produces Harlem Week, and NYRR also supported Harlem Week with attendance at a number of events, including New York City Senior Citizens Day, New York City Children’s Festival and New York City Economic Development Day.

More than 50 New York City high school students culminated their summer of running in the 5K run through NYRR youth running programs, Run for the Future and the High School Cross Country Training Series. Since 2011, Run for the Future has provided a fun, free way for New York City high school girls to get fit, develop leadership skills and earn a $1,500 scholarship toward college. Working together, the 46 young women selected for the 2015 season met weekly and trained to run in the Percy Sutton Harlem 5K Run. Along the way, they had access to special seminars on health and fitness and worked together on local projects to improve well being in the community. All 46 young women finished Sunday’s race, each paired with an NYRR race buddy to cheer her on.

The High School Cross Country Training Series is a program in which coaches guide runners over the course of four weeks through challenging workouts to improve their endurance, speed and form. On the academic side, informative clinics focus on topics such as positive psychology and proper nutrition. Ten young men and women completed the 2015 High School Cross Country Training Series program, most running a 5K personal best.

New Yorkers of all ages and abilities participated in Saturday’s events, including a number of NYRR Striders—a program for seniors that offers free walking sessions throughout New York City —who walked 1.5 miles in the Percy Sutton Harlem Walk.