UJA-Federation AquaRun Race Review

I worked for UJA-Federation many years ago and saw first hand the work that they did in our community. One of the agencies that benefitted from UJA was called Altro Health & Rehabilitation Services. I was the director of PR and Development. We helped people with psychiatric disabilities and helped them get job placements in the community. Unfortunately, Altro merged with another agency called, FEGS and later went out of business.

Years later when I established my own public relations and social media marketing firm, I volunteered for UJA-Federation and even headed up their Super Sunday effort. So, I know the work they do. Having a connection to UJA-Federation, made this race a little more special.

At the Race Start

Sandy and me at the race start

When I got to Tobay Beach on the Bayside, I was one of the first ones to arrive. I grabbed my number and headed over to transition to set up. I was stationed next to Diedre, from the Brooklyn Tri Club. We chatted for a while and then she went to stretch out and do some Yoga before the event started.

I saw Sandy and Monica from the WeRTriathletes team. We talked for a while then I put on my wetsuit and headed into the water for a practice swim.

Practice Swim

The water was freezing. I was glad I had my Roka no sleeve wetsuit but secretly wished I brought my long sleeve Roka wetsuit. I was talking with some people in the water. There was one woman from the Merrick Tri Team who wasn’t wearing a wetsuit. I asked her if she was cold and she said, “no.” (I was freezing. Putting my face in the water was difficult and I was glad to do the practice swim before the event to get acclimated.)

We were all called out of the water.

The Swim

The younger men went first at promptly 8:30 am. All of the women went off at 8:35 am, followed by the older men. The time-lapse went quickly. Before I knew it, I was running into the water with high knees.

Just as I was thinking, I’m doing a great job at this, I tripped and fell into the water. Monica was behind me. “Are you okay?” she asked.

I just smiled, feeling a little embarrassed. As we got into the deeper water, I swam and I kept swimming until the end. It was a short 1/2 mile swim. The buoys were well-marked and there was a ton of support on the course.

As I was swimming, several of the 40+ men caught up and passed me. It seemed as if there weren’t any orange caps (all women) around me. I thought I was last getting out of the water. Since being in the zone, I focused on swimming strong.

As we approached the last turn buoy back to the beach, I started to see more and more people swimming around me. I kicked it into gear and hurried quickly out of the water.


At transition…

When the water became knee-deep, I picked myself up and tried to run out of the water.

I ran on the beach and into transition.

My biggest challenge — taking off my wetsuit! Once it was off, I put on my Balega socks, sneakers, Headsweats Visor and race belt and was off. I didn’t know if I was the last one out of the water but I figured, I better push out of the gate.

The Run

I ran out of transition and kept running until I was about a quarter-mile to a half-mile into the run. Then, I did a run/walk. I started at 30/15 but I felt I could do more than that so I ran a 1:15/:15. I felt good.

Suddenly, I see Monica. She’s behind me. I thought she was out of the water and long passed me by now. When she saw me, she kicked it into high gear and not before long, she passed me. It made me feel good. I know she’s an awesome runner. I also saw Sandy. She was also behind me but not by much.

We ran past the marina, then back to the parking lot and to the nature preserve. I kept seeing Monica on the turn arounds. I kept seeing Sandy too. It was really awesome to race with them!

L-R, Jim, Monica, Dawn, Danielle, Sandy and me

On the way to the second preserve, I hear my name. Dawn and Danielle are screaming from a random car. It put a smile on my face. I wondered why they were in the car. Were they leaving? Coming?

As I was heading toward the turn-around at the nature preserve, I took a 15-second walk break. “Yeah, catch your breath and walk around the turn,” the volunteer said. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m used to these unnecessary comments. I gave him a thumbs up and started running after my 15-second break. He didn’t say a word.

At the Finish Line

As I was close to the finish line, I could hear my teammates screaming my name. It was awesome to see Monica (who did amazing on the swim and the run), Jim (who ran the 3-mile race and placed 2nd in his division), Dawn and Danielle (both got a PR). We waited for Sandy to come in and took a photo!

After seeing the results, I noticed that Sandy and I placed. I came in 2nd and she came in 3rd. It was so exciting!


The race was well-organized. I loved that they had a mat all the way to the beach. This eliminated a lot of stepping barefoot on pebbles, which often happens.

The water had particularly large buoys and plenty of lifeguards.

The run course was well-marked and there were dozens of volunteers, each friendlier than the next! There were three water stops and every time I saw water, it went right over my head.

My biggest complaint was that there were way too many speeches and the award ceremony went way too slow. But otherwise, it was a perfectly executed race. Congratulations to all the finishers and to the organizers!

It was particularly special to place and to give back to a worthy cause.