GETTING READY TO RUN
With the 39th New York City Marathon right around the corner, New York Road Runners launched its week of festivities with a Marathon Kickoff on Sunday morning, a five-miler through Central Park that drew more than 6,400 competitors. Mohammed Awol (25:14) of the powerful Westchester Track Club, and Manhattanite Christine Hoffman (28:59) were the top male and female finishers. The schedule for the days ahead is fairly packed. Thursday begins with a "Run with Champions" event in Central Park at 9 a.m., a one-mile gallop for schoolchildren. The Jacob Javits Convention Center hosts the Marathon Health and Fitness Expo all day from Thursday through Saturday. The International Friendship Run, a non-competitive event starting at 9 a.m. Saturday morning, is open to all marathon entrants for free and others for $25. It will follow a route from the United Nations to Central Park. And Saturday evening, of course, will feature the customary pre-marathon fireworks. Playoff Fever-The boys' soccer playoffs, the first fall postseason to begin for the Public Schools Athletic League, started earlier this week, and several West and East Side high schools are involved. Most prominently, Martin Luther King Jr. (9-2-1) and Beacon High School (12-0) have each earned No. 1 seeds and a first-round bye in their respective corners of the "A" bracket. King is the defending city champion. In the "B" Division, Fiorello H. LaGuardia is seeded fifth with an 8-3-1 record and Hunter College High School sixth after finishing the regular season 7-2-1. LaGuardia's powerful attack is led by Daniel Brashear (12 goals, five assists) and Jordan Burt (two goals, 10 assists). Junior Connor Almon is Hunter's offensive star, with 11 scores and nine assists this year. Heating up the Ice-While the tourists head to Rockefeller Center to get their skating in, New Yorkers know that the best scene on ice is at Wollman and Lasker rinks in Central Park. Both opened for the season last week, and the ice should stay down at least through March. Both rinks offer plenty of programming, including hockey, skating school and private events. For walk-up entry, though, Lasker (at the north end of the park between 106th and 108th streets) has far cheaper rates. At Wollman, public sessions run from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, and then all day for the rest of the week. The hours for Lasker are 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Monday-Friday, with additional evening sessions on Tuesday and Friday. The rink is open 1-11 p.m. on Saturday and 12:30-4:30 p.m. on Sunday. Time for Squash-Squash in November isn't just a Thanksgiving dish. In New York, it means the Carol Weymuller Open, the highest-profile women's tournament that the city sees. Around in various incarnations since 1973, the competition has been an official pro event since 1993. This year, it will run Nov. 4 through Nov. 9 at The Heights Casino Cadman Plaza Annex in Brooklyn. The tournament will start with a two-day qualifier round to fill out the main bracket, which begins play on Nov. 6. The final will follow three days later. Rachel Grinham, the 2006 champion, returns as the first seed and will face tough competition from American Natalie Grainger, who won the trophy last year and in 2004. They are ranked as the third and fourth best female players in the world, respectively. Tickets start at $5 and run up to $25.
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