The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

In Central Park With Bubba

On Sunday, I wrote about my wonderful morning riding my bike in Central Park. I referred to an experience I had many years ago running around the Reservoir with Bill Clinton. A number of people asked me about it so here goes:

Before I became MO Chassid I was just MO. In those days, while I still got up very early, instead of going to a 6 a.m. shiur and minyan, I used to take a 5:30 a.m. train into Manhattan and go directly to the gym. On nice days I used to run from my gym into the park and knock off between 5 and 10 miles.

One morning in 1994 or 95, as I reached the entrance to the park on 6th Avenue and Central Park South, I saw cops everywhere. I asked one of them what was going on but he wouldn't say. I got on with my run, going north up to the Reservoir and started doing laps. It was crazy. Cops were stationed about every 50 feet!

Running counterclockwise, I reached the East 90th Street entrance to the Reservoir running track where, suddenly, on the perimeter road below, I saw a bunch of cops on motorcycles followed by about 15 black cars and an ambulance followed by more cops on motorbikes. My curiosity piqued, I stopped to see what was going on. After a couple of minutes out popped a couple of massive human beings dressed in tee shirts and shorts. After two more minutes, a man dressed in goofy purple shorts (real short...the kind you see on NBA players from the 70's) and a purple tee shirt got out of another car. It was Bubba!

Flanked by the two Secret Service guys, Bubba skipped up the stairs and started running. By then, there was a flock of about 15 runners (including me) who decided to tag along. The Secret Service guys were amazingly relaxed and we were able to run right alongside the Big Guy. Some people shmoozed with him but I decided to leave him alone.

For a chunky guy reputed to be hooked on Big Macs and Hostess Twinkies, he actually ran at a decent clip, somewhere between 7:30 and 7:45 minute miles (I have been blessed with the relatively useless talent of being able to estimate my running pace with amazing accuracy without the benefit of a stopwatch). After a couple of laps (about 3.1 miles), he was done, got back in the car and went back to the Waldorf together with his 15 car entourage and motorcycle escort.

All in all, an interesting morning run.

I still don't know what the 15 cars were all about but I figure it must have cost the taxpayers of New York City thousands of dollars in cop costs so that Bubba could take a spin in the park rather than run on a treadmill in his hotel.


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