It was a red letter day for the Shelter Island School cross country teams as Kal Lewis, 15, and Joshua Green, 17, placed first and second respectively to win the top spots in their hometown 5K race Saturday.
But Island student athletes weren’t finished, as three girls on the cross country team — Emma Gallagher, her sister Lindsey and Justine Karen — were the first female Islanders to cross the finish line.
With temperatures in the low 70s on a clear day with little wind, Dr. Frank Adipietro, the voice of the 5K, predicted the course record might be broken, but even he expressed surprise that two runners had broken the record.
Timers from elitefeats.com reported 764 registrants for the race with 608 runners and walkers finishing the course.
In addition to being an elite regional road race, the Island 5K is a fundraiser for women’s cancers and also to bring awareness to the illnesses. Judging by the large number of participants, it was a success on both counts.
Because of the large numbers, on-site registration delayed the start for 15 minutes, so everyone would have plenty of time to pick up their bibs and get to the start line “without further anxiety,” announcer Mike Rauh told the crowd.
His wife, Judy Rauh, ran the race with a shirt that carried several names of friends and relatives who had survived cancer, and those who had died. She has been running races for breast cancer in New York City for 20 years and started to come out for the Shelter Island race a few years ago at the urging of friends.
While some came with the intent of being among the leaders to finish the race, all came because, as Ethan Helgans of Cutchogue “it’s a good cause.”
Beneficiaries are the North Fork Breast Health Coalition and the Coalition for Womens Breast Health at Southampton Hospital. Lucia’s Angels, a group that provides aid to women and their families who have late-stage women’s cancers in our area, raised money through the sale of raffle tickets.
“You guys are the heart and soul of this race,” Race Director Mary Ellen Adipietro told the assembled runners and walkers before the event.
Waiting for the start was Ginny Guichard, 80, of Queens, ready to walk the 5K. A cancer survivor — breast and lymph node — Ms. Guichard said she had lost friends to cancer, and would think of them as she walked. Next to her, her son Bill said his mother was a better athlete than he was, walking two or three times a week and exercising four days a week.
“See you at the finish,” Ms. Guichard said.
For the second successive year, Islander Linda Zavatto raised the most money, bringing in $8,510, while Towny Montant’s Flamingos placed second in that category, raising $3,885.
And for the second successive year, Towny’s Flamingos had the most members, 58, outpacing the perennial winning team from Eastern Long Island Hospital, which came in second with 35 runners.
The Southold Fire Department placed third with 14 runners.
Even before any runner or walker had stepped off in the race, Towny predicted he would take that plaque for the largest team. He ran in memory of his wife, Teresa, who succumbed to breast cancer in October 2011.
It may not have been the largest group on the course Saturday, but the Ben Jones team won a rousing round of applause when Dr. Adipietro, prior to the race, announced their presence. Ben Jones, who died in January 2016 at the age of 93, was a revered Islander EMT who answered emergency calls into his 90s, and helped to train and mentor young EMTs who joined the all-volunteer group.
Erin O’Toole, 27, of Mattituck was the first female runner to cross the finish line with a time of 20:06. Running the course for the first time, Ms. O’Toole pronounced the course “a little hillier” than she had expected.
Brie Manwaring of Greenport, one of the Eastern Long Island Hospital team members, said it was a little warm, but what made it even hotter was that she was pushing a stroller along the 3.1-mile course.
Islander Evan Kraus, 33, who placed 25th, had another challenge, running with his dog, Harbor, who Mr. Kraus said usually pulls him along when they run together. Harbor, for the record, was the first dog across the finish line.
Among cancer survivors, Annmarie Seddio, 50, placed first among runners while Louise O’Regan Clark, 51, took top honors among the walkers.
Special recognition from the race committee went to Veronica Clements as the 2017 “Angel of the Year.” Ms. Clements has been volunteering for the Island 5K the past four years. She was described as a devoted volunteer and a dedicated caregiver to her husband, John, in his battle with cancer.
Ms. Clements used to run and then walk the course, but since John’s illness struck four years ago, she’s stopped racing, but continued to volunteer.
“I’m sure there are people who deserve it more,” she said after the race on being honored.
Not the case, Ms. Adipietro said.