Randall’s Island sits at the East River juncture where the Harlem River slips between Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx. The 273-acre site has been an athletic playground for New Yorkers throughout the 20th Century and promises more to come in the new millennium. For example, on May 31, 2008, speedster Usain Bolt broke the 100-meter dash world record with a speed of 9.72 seconds at Icahn Stadium, one of the two Olympic qualifying tracks in the United States. We slightly more mortal athletes can still find plenty to do there today.
Randall’s Island’s former Downing Stadium, which stood for two-thirds of a century, was replaced by Icahn Stadium in 2004. Boasting a standard 400-meter surface running track, 5,000 permanent spectator seats and temporary seating available for up to 10,000 more, the site is North America’s only International Association of Athletics Federation certified championship track and field facility. The Randall’s Island Sports Foundation, formed in 1992, promotes several athletic options including the expanding baseball fields found in the Sunken Meadow development.
The Golf Center’s two-tier driving range boasts 80 driving stalls in addition to a 36-hole mini golf course, a short game area with sand bunkers and a nearby beer garden with handy wi-fi Internet service. For more info, see www.randallsislandgolfcenter.com
The Sportime Tennis Center has 20 indoor and outdoor courts with both clay and hard surfaces, plus the usual amenities of food, pro shops and locker rooms. For more info, see www.sportimeny.com
Randall’s Island hosts two main enrollment programs for children. The RISF Summer Camp is a six-week program in June and August that makes use of the island’s various athletic facilities and takes kids on nature trips into the nearby wetlands. The Jesse Owens Track & Field Program is an after-school program aimed at teaching children fundamentals of the sport. Other dance, tennis and golf programs are run during the year; contact the Youth Programs Community Coordinator at (212) 860-2031 for more information.
Gardens, walks, wetlands and waterfronts provide a more gentle form of exercise around the outer rim of the island. For more info, see http://randallsisland.org/natural-areas
ELECTRIC ZOO MUSIC FESTIVAL
Athletics takes a sideline to music during Labor Day weekend when the island transforms into a 24-acre open-air electronic music festival. Drawing such acts as The Chemical Brothers, Armin Van Buuren, Moby, Benny Benassi and others, the Electric Zoo festival runs about $135 for a two-day pass. For more info, see www.madeevent.com/ElectricZoo