The Carey clan, originally 14 children who grew up spending summers in Shelter Island, has sprouted children and grandchildren in abundance. For the 40th anniversary of the 10K, it would be only natural that we’d field a multi-generational team of runners and walkers. Involving us in any event requires an understanding of the Law of Large Numbers. Or Murphy’s Law.
Excited as ever to put on a strong team showing, our confidence was high in our two top runners, Owen and Delia Carey Hayes, track stars who were coached by Cliff Clark before going on to Georgetown and Boston College, respectively. They did not disappoint, both of them earning T-shirts and kudos for finishing the 40th in under 40 minutes. Delia was also the first Shelter Island woman to cross the finish line. Owen brought two friends from the Georgetown Runners Club in case we needed some ringers.
My older brother Christopher headed a multi-generational team, running the 10K along with his son Erich, while his daughter Beth and her daughters Lauren and Kathryn did the 5K, as did his grandson Max and granddaughter Georgia with their mom Ali.
My sister Helen’s husband Martin O’Neill, from County Wexford, upheld the pride of the Irish in the 10K. My sister Marianne beat me in the 5K, as usual, just to remind me that she’s younger. My husband Marty and I go the distance for the 5K walk in our own ways, happy to reunite in Fiske Field. Our daughter Susie was on hand selling merchandise to benefit the Shelter Island Fireworks.
My approach this year was just to enjoy the experience and not worry too much about time. As the 5K started, people ran past me, some with pets, some with strollers, some with little children on whom the smallest runner’s shirt looked like a dress. I enjoyed watching the children, who would run ahead of their parents and then run back to them. After they did this over and over, I realized that they were pretty much running a 10K in the 5K course by going over so much ground again and again. And hardly breaking a sweat.
I also began to realize that I actually did care more than I’d admitted about my time. As we reached a downhill part of the course, I kicked it into gear to try to make it up, then focused on some unwitting competitors to motivate myself to pass them. At the turn from 114 onto Midway, where fatigue might well set in, Bob DeStefano gave me a shout-out that pumped me up. Joey’s Mile gives everyone a second wind, as we appreciate the stirring sight of hundreds of flags lining the road in honor of the Island’s fallen hero, Lieutenant Joseph Theinert. Then come the cheers from the Islanders out on their lawns telling us there’s not much more to go. These cheerleaders are usually yelling instead of clapping — if they clapped, they might spill their cocktails.
At this point, my thirst is focused on the water and oranges that will be waiting for us just past the finish line – after we collect the beautiful 40th anniversary medals that volunteers are waiting to hand us. Not unhappy with my finish, and quick to hug the family celebrating all their feats, I realize we’ll all love getting the team together to do it again next year.