VIDEO: Summer festival of sports and fun a success for all

If the late afternoon forecast for Saturday, June 17 called for rain starting at 5 p.m., just a half hour before race time, the weatherman proved wrong.

But many of the nearly 2,000 participants in the 38th annual Shelter Island 10K/5K Run/Walk, might have welcomed a deluge as they came off the course dripping sweat from the high humidity. There would be no records set by the winners Saturday, although many runners were pleased to finish and beating their own personal bests.

“It’s a great race,” Warren Drezen from Massapequa said in the crowd at Wilson Circle in the Center, waiting for the race to start. He and his wife ran the race and returned home last year, but opted this year to make it an overnight celebration, staying at La Petite Maison, which they dubbed quiet and comfortable.

“Do you think my number is bad luck?” Julie Soriano of Smithtown asked her friends. She was bearing the number 666 on her bib. But Cassie Ferrara of Bohemia and Helen Sulinski of Hauppauge assured her it would be a good luck number. She placed ahead of them at a respectable 1:07:12:87.

But the 10K for the Island is not just running races, but one of the Island’s signature fundraisers for charity. Proceeds from the race events go to East End nonprofits, including the Shelter Island 10K Community Fund, East End Hospice and Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch.

BEVEREA WALZ PHOTO The start of Saturday's 10K.

BEVEREA WALZ PHOTO The start of Saturday’s 10K.

There were many special moments of this summer Saturday, including honoring one of the Island’s most revered heroes. Since he was killed in action in Afghanistan on June 4, 2010, there’s a tribute to 1st Lieutenant Joseph Theinert, with flags posted by volunteers along the last mile of the route marking “Joey’s mile.”

A touching moment came when Pepe Martinez, co-owner of STARs Café, the Island’s newest United States citizen, led the crowd at the starting line in the Center in the Pledge of Allegiance. Mr. Martinez became a citizen at a swearing-in ceremony on April 6. His 13-year-old daughter Emma then offered a stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

Numerous members of “the Semicolons” team were out in force supporting Islander Nicholas Morehead, who battled cancer this year. He credited his wife Paige with putting together the large contingent of friends. They wore shirts with the words “Strong body; stronger mind” on the front and “You got this Nick!” on the back.

“I’m honored and touched,” Mr. Morehead said prior to the race, smiling at the gang that outnumbered the traditionally race contingent with the most members, Dr. Frank Adaptor’s “Pain Killers,” a group from Eastern Long Island Hospital.

The day before the race, Dr. Adipietro told former Olympian Bill Rodgers that he was the inspiration that got the doctor running. That tribute showed on the shirts the ELIH team sported with a quote from Mr. Rodgers: “To be a consistent winner means preparing not just one day, one month or even one year, but for a lifetime.”

Kids Need MoRE sported a team that runs a summer camp program at Camp Quinipet each August to give children with cancer and their siblings a week of normalcy, most of them free from medical appointments and hospital stays for that period. The team had increased its sponsorship from two last year to almost a dozen this year.

Much as the race for some is about placing at the top and trying to break records, for most it’s about supporting worthy causes both here and elsewhere. And it is — in the words of Bill Rodgers — all about community and the beauty of Shelter Island.

Both he and Joan Benoit-Samuelson, who won the 1984 Olympic Gold Medal in Los Angeles — the first year that women ran an Olympic marathon — function as pace-setters for other racers.

Ms. Benoit-Samuelson posted a 39:38:85 race time while Mr. Rodgers came in at 47:33:24.

Prior to the race, Ms. Benoit-Samuelson told the crowd when they see her on the course to say hello as they pass her by. “I’m getting old now — I just had a big birthday a couple of weeks ago,” she said.

But at 60, she has set herself a personal goal to become the first woman to run a marathon in less than three hours, aiming to do that in Chicago this fall.

The Island’s 10K takes more than 100 volunteers to organize and run the event, and among them was James Eklund, who ran the race for years and is now works behind the scenes, having participated for all 38 years, according to Dr. Adipietro.

He also noted that Dan O’Donnell of Smithtown has run the race every year since it began.

Mr. O’Donnell, now 64, ran Saturday’s race with a time of 1:10:28:77.

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