But while almost 12,000 men and over 13,000 women crossed the finish line to celebrate with family and friends, the mood of the day darkened when one runner collapsed after crossing the finish line.
The 31-year-old runner, whose name has not been released out of respect to the family, was tended to immediately by on-site medical staff. He was then rushed to Coney Island Hospital, but could not be saved. The cause of his death has not been released.
New York Road Runners, which hosts the Brooklyn Half Marathon, expressed their condolences for the runner’s family.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of a participant following the 2014 NYRR Brooklyn Half,” Chris Weiller, an NYRR spokesperson, said. “Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family and those close to him.”
For others, the day was full of high notes, particularly for the winner of the women’s race, Liz Costello of the New York Athletic Club
Costello came in almost 20 seconds faster than the second place finisher, with a time of 1:13:29, which easily qualifies the 26-year-old for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
She came in third in last year’s race, though she said she was not expecting to win this year.
“I thought if it was something like last year, I’d be towards the front, because I felt like I was in pretty good shape, but I didn’t think I’d win it,” Costello said. “I was just planning to try and get close to 1:15:00.”
She easily surpassed that goal, beating her previous personal best time by over a minute and finishing ahead of the second place finisher, Hirut Damte of Agony o’de Feet, by 17 seconds.
“It was a beautiful day. I was excited for it and I’m glad that it went as well as I wanted,” Costello said. “Better than I wanted.”
Getting to see Brooklyn as she ran was an added bonus.
“I think a lot of us will say that it’s sometimes nice just to step out of Central Park,” she said, “and that sounds terrible because Central Park is so beautiful, but it is nice to have a change in scenery.”
Denise and Gary Danks, who came from Connecticut to watch their daughter Marisa Danks race, agreed with the sentiment. Denise hails from Brooklyn and said hanging out at Coney Island all morning was a nostalgic experience.
“It’s a gorgeous day,” Denise said. “I’m impressed. [The runners] all looking great, I’m amazed.”
West Side Runners’ Club (WSX) also had a day full of victories. The top three male finishers were all members of WSX.
Yonas Mebrahtu, also 26 years old, finished in 1:04:23, just seven seconds ahead of his second place teammate, Ayele Feisa. WSX teammate Birhanu Kemal finished the podium trifecta with a time of 1:05:00.
The first American male finisher was Robert Molke, 23, of Westwood, NJ. He finished fifth with a time of 1:05:19, just 20 seconds shy of qualifying for Olympic trials.
After the race, spectators and competitors filled the boardwalk, eating food, drinking at the beer garden in Luna Park and listening to a Jimmy Buffet cover band in the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball stadium.