Runners raise funds for Forest Park

Runners — both avid and amateur — came from all areas of Queens to compete in this year’s 5K race in Forest Park.

About 172 people raced on Sunday, October 2 to raise money for Forest Park Trust, Inc., which provides Forest Park with free educational, recreational and cultural events.

Joining the runners were scores of volunteers and spectators who cheered as each crossed the finish line. The race began and concluded in Victory Field Running Track, with check-points setup throughout the trail route. Professional scoring and assistance was provided by the Forest Park Runners Club.

Ricardo Cuahuizo, 23, of Elmhurst was the first to cross the finish line with a time of 17:04, while Francisco Martinez, 41, of Jackson Heights finished second with a time of 17:06. Jesus Bazan, 26, of Woodhaven finished third.

When asked about the win, Cuahuizo said he was “happy” that he did well and called Forest Park “his place” for daily training after he finishes his work day in the construction industry. Cuahuizo has been active in local races and finished first in the Mile Challenge held in Alley Pond Park this April and seventh in Forest Park’s 4-Mile Classic Road and Trail Run this May.

But the race attracted runners at all levels.

Allison Mintz, 37, of Forest Hills said she recently began participating in community races for pure enjoyment.

Frank Gallo, Forest Park Runners Club’s race director, was very pleased with the turnout and the cooperating weather. Gallo applauded the runners and also emphasized the crucial role volunteers play in orchestrating this and other race events.

“I told them, ‘You’re all special. There’s a reason why you do this. It’s something inside you that makes you feel good.’ If I don’t have the volunteers to place pointers or give out the water, it’s not happening,” he said.

Also part of the event was a Children’s Field Day, which took place in the middle of Victory Field before and during the race. Volunteers, many of whom were Forest Hills High School students, helped youngsters with a variety of activities like a 50-yard dash “Fun Run,” as well as life-size chess and checkers games.

For an official list of all winners of the 5K race,visitwww.nycgovparks.org orwww.forestparkrunners.org.

The next big race at Forest Park will be the 4-Mile Classic Road and Trail Run in May 2012.