Midnight Run Marked by Costumes and Champagne Toast

The midnight Nuts Run in Central Park is a colorful way to start the year.

ByABC News
January 8, 2009, 12:14 AM

Jan. 1, 2008 — -- "If you have binged excessively when younger, follow it up with some regular exercise. Get those brain cells regenerated."  You can thank Paul Steinberg and The New York Times for that little gem as we celebrate the start of 2008. If New Year's Eve is the day of the year with the most binge drinking, what else is there to do?

Well, I decided to try something else this year take part in a 4-mile run in the middle of New York's Central Park as the clock strikes midnight. OK, in the interest of full disclosure, there is a champagne toast at mile 2!  

For the last 29 years, approximately 4,700 very committed people have shown up for the annual New York Road Runner's Emerald Nuts run. Yes, in addition to the many fitness freaks and those with a New Year's resolution they can't wait to start, this is Central Park, and at midnight the pickpockets may be a thing of the past but the eccentrics are not.

The night began with a DJ and a costume contest before the run. About 15,000 people showed up for the preshow to dance and check out the runners.

The costumes were rather predictable, with the exception of a man in a large Siberian tiger costume, which I thought was adorable until I noticed he was carrying around a bloody human leg in his left paw.

Jason, from San Francisco no less, purred and preened for the crowd as his Tatiani the killer Siberian tiger costume came in sixth place. I doubt the San Francisco Zoo has any interest in the 2008 nature calendar he won for his effort.

Of course, Mr. and Mrs. Claus were there, a man with a large steroid syringe, a couple of pumpkins, someone named Naked Mike. The top prize this year, which comes with $500, went to Reindeers in Training. Yes, they had antlers on their heads and put a rope around one another so they could keep that imaginary sleigh stable as they ran.

I would need a hot toddy to stand in Central Park in a costume on New Year's Eve. Of course, the temperature drops just as the clock hits 11:30, and I wonder what in the world I am doing here.