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Rob Brink’s Running Times

Usually, Dan Goldberg says, he and his friends don’t get each other birthday presents. A drink at a bar is a big deal.

But Goldberg’s 30th birthday present for longtime friend — and former Staples High School (Class of 2003) track teammate — Rob Brink made the New York Times.

On Thursday, the sports section described the caper. Goldberg — a private equity guy — flew in a top distance runner from Arizona to race with (and against) Brink, a grad student at Cornell University business school.

The kicker: that elite runner is a woman.

The Times story noted that Brink — the “most competitive person” Goldberg knows — regularly beats him, his twin Mark and their fellow runners. “It kind of feels like a present to ourselves,” Goldberg said, anticipating that Sara Slattery would kick Brink’s butt.

After all, she’d run a 1-hour, 13-minute half-marathon — 4 minutes faster than Brink’s personal best.

In Brink’s favor: 12 weeks before, Slattery gave birth to a baby girl.

The story — written in typical Times let’s-see-what-those-crazy-millennials-are-up-to style — describes Slattery’s gifts for Brink (running gear, energy tablets and a watch); the pre-game dinner at Goldberg’s apartment (at which Slattery described the pain of childbirth as “worse than racing”), and the combination of excitement and fear all the friends felt about the coming gender showdown (Brink will “say he hasn’t been training, which is a complete lie,” Goldberg said).

Sara Slattery and Rob Brink, at East River Park. (Photo/Hilary Swift for New York Times)

The 12-mile workout consisted of 8 1,000-meter intervals, drills, and 20-minute “jogs.”

Slattery gave Brink everything she had. She set a brutal pace. The race was all everyone — especially Goldberg and his buddies — hoped it would be.

During the last interval, Brink pulled ahead. Goldberg ran with him as inspiration. Near the end, they slowed down so they could finish together with Slattery.

Brink called Slattery “amazing.” Six weeks earlier, he said, “I was running an ultra-marathon. You were giving birth. I am totally wiped.”

He called it “the best birthday ever.”

(To read the entire New York Times story, click here. Hat tip: Rob Sobelman)

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