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Islander competes Saturday to keep amazing record alive

REPORTER FILE PHOTO A familiar place for Louise Clark, crossing the finish line first in the 5K race walking event. Here she’s seen accepting a high five from Dr. Frank Adipietro in October 32105

REPORTER FILE PHOTO
A familiar place for Louise Clark, crossing the finish line first in the 5K race walking event. Here she’s seen accepting a high five from Dr. Frank Adipietro in October 32105

A remarkable athletic record is on the line in this Saturday’s Shelter Island 5K Run/ Walk.

For the past 10 years, the champion of the race walking event at the 5K has been Islander Louise Clark, and she will be back to defend her title.

Adding to her incredible athletic streak is that in a race that benefits breast cancer awareness and helps patients, Ms. Clark is herself a survivor of the disease.

Early in the fall of 2012, feeling fine, with no lumps and no worries, Ms. Clark had gone for a regularly scheduled mammogram at Southampton Hospital. Something had been discovered, she was told not long after her visit. A biopsy was arranged and then a phone call came. She had a malignant growth in her breast.

Ms. Clark had a lumpectomy and started a chemotherapy and radiation program that saved her life. There has been no recurrence of cancer.

Asked about her training methods leading up to the defense of her title this Saturday, Ms. Clark responded with a laugh.

“Walking the dog?” she said, and then added that helping her husband, Keith, a builder and fisherman, is good training, “going up and down the ladders.”

Growing up in Ireland, she was an athletic girl, playing “camogie,” a stick and ball field game for girls and women similar to hurling, one of Ireland’s national sports. She said that her sister-in-law, Ann Clark, got her into race walking and is now mock angry with her since the student finishes ahead of her teacher every year in the 5K.

She’s looking forward to the competition on Saturday and keeping her streak alive — a key word when Ms. Clark considers the race in all it’s meanings. She praised  the work of the volunteers for the 5K and the money raised. “I was helped by this race,” she said. “Directly helped.”

“It’s a great community day,” Ms. Clark added. “It means so much to me, for my family here, and family over there, and all of us.”

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