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Ready to run, 10K/5K returns to Island Saturday

It’s the best of times on the heels of the worst of times as participants in the 42nd Annual Shelter Island 10K Run and 5K Walk prepare to take to the course on Saturday — rain or shine.

There will be fewer participants and fewer elite runners, but there will be names known to the Island. Multiple marathon champion Bill Rodgers, who counts wins in both New York City and Boston marathons among other major achievements, will be running here once again.

And Shelter Island’s own running legend, Kal Lewis, is scheduled to run Saturday.

Also in the field will be Kenyan Eliud Ngetich, who has won honors in many races throughout the United States and the world. He won the Shelter Island 10K in 2015 with a time of 28:53.51.

In 2019, Mr. Ngetich ran two back-to-back races, competing in Queens, where he lives, and then driving to Shelter Island where he clocked a time of 29:49.19 to win at a 4:48 mile pace. Two years earlier, he had placed second on the Island with a similar time of 29:47.37.

The 2020 race was a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, prohibiting its scheduling. But in 2021, Islanders are eager for a return to normalcy. Organizers have worked with the Town Board and Police Chief Jim Read in what will be an event somewhat different from what has ever existed.

Participation is limited to 1,000 and Elitefeats Chief Executive Officer Brendan Dagan has reported he’s expecting a full contingent on Saturday. Elitefeats has helped organize the race and will provide digital timing and information.

Until Tuesday, it was expected only 100 runners would be in each corral taking off in stages. But based on the lifting of state restrictions, there will be a single corral of 10K runners and another for 5K participants whose starting time is 20 minutes after the 10K runners begin.

That could mean an indication of results sooner, but there still won’t be any award ceremony on Saturday. A virtual award ceremony is expected within a few days after the race when times of both onsite and virtual participants are available.

Mr. Dagan called the Shelter Island course “one of the nation’s most beautiful.” He’s worked with the Shelter Island 10K for six years.

“We had to push the envelope and we didn’t want to do anything that wasn’t safe,” he said about the event. Elitefeats has been involved in races throughout the New York area and Race Director Mary Ellen Adipietro noted the Island 10K is the largest race on Long Island in the past year.

Trademarks of former Island 10Ks will get a pass this year, including the Friday night “pasta loading party,” and no buses will bring participants from the ferries to the start line at Wilson Circle. There will be no Saturday pre-race activities, including onsite registration; no vendors and sponsor displays; and no crowds of supporters. On the course, there will be bottled water set out, but no residents handing out cups of water as they have been in the past.

What remains the same is using the event to raise money to support a number of charities, including Cohen’s Children’s Hospital and the Shelter Island Community Fund as well as various charities chosen by individual participants.

Ms. Adipietro praised the Town Board and Police Chief Jim Read who wanted to see the town take another step toward normalcy. “We want to prove that we’re back,” Ms. Adipietro said. She noted she’d hoped to see a race last November, but COVID numbers were spiking.