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First Shelter Islanders to cross the finish line in their hometown race

In a note especially suited to the Shelter Island 10K, race directors announced the planned 5:30 p.m. start for runners would be delayed by 10 minutes due to long lines at the South Ferry.

The ferries that are an integral characteristic of Island living also played a part in the lives of the man and woman who were the first Islanders to cross the finish line on Saturday.

Stacey Kehl, 29, grew up as part of the Clark family, and on the Island it’s usually necessary to explain which Clark family you come from. Her father, Roger Clark, has worked on the North Ferry for many years, as have several generations of his family. Stacey worked as a nurse, and married Glen Kehl, who’s an officer in the Shelter Island Police Department.

This 10K, with her time of 45:04.46, was her best yet. “I’m quite happy with it,” she said.

In her previous best race, she’d had a 7:58 per mile pace, and ran Saturday at a pace of 7:15, the ninth woman to finish. Finding time to train for the race was a challenge, since she’s busy taking care of her three young children.

Her youngest, Addelyn, had her first birthday the day of the race. Their middle child, daughter Kaisley, will turn three next week, and their son, Colby, will turn seven next week.

Ms. Kehl missed a few years of the 10K due to her pregnancies, although she ran the race that was virtual in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions.

With the ingenuity of a mother and a runner, she’s managed to get her training in. “I push the girls in a stroller, while my son’s at school,” she said. “The practice offers good resistance, so when I’m just running by myself, it feels so much easier,” she laughed.

The first Island man to complete the race was Jason Green, 19, whose connections involve the Island’s South Ferry. He spends part of his time working there, but the majority of his time is “training,” which means running.

Jason Green, first Island man across the line. (Credit: Adam Bundy)

He runs twice a day, six days a week, and has been putting in 50 miles a week for the past six weeks in preparation for the 10K.

Jason finished 6th overall, but his run is in the record book as the best finish by an Island man ever.

He’s been coached in this pursuit by his father, Toby, who also works at South Ferry and coaches the Shelter Island School’s cross country and track teams. It’s no coincidence that South Ferry’s President and CEO, Cliff Clark — of the South Ferry Clark family —  has had an outstanding career as a runner and coach to numerous accomplished track stars.

Jason was able to relax and relish his well-earned success by taking a break from his strict vegan diet on Saturday to enjoy a Stars burrito from the stand after the race, then enjoying the evening with his family and friends.

Shortly thereafter, he’ll be back on the Island roads chasing the other races he has in his sights: he favors 5Ks, 10Ks and half-marathons, as well as track races, where he’s clocked the mile in 4:38. His time for the 10K was 33.58.00, with a 5:28 pace.

Islander Bill Lehr won the wheelchair division. One of the Island’s most accomplished athletes, Bill has competed twice in the Olympics and raced in numerous marathons around the world.

Islander Bill Lehr, finishing strong to win the wheelchair division. (Credit: Adam Bundy)

Favorite course for the road-race veteran? No contest. “This is where I love to be,” Bill said moments after the 10K.

In the 5K, Islander Jaxson Rylott finished first overall out of 533 runners and walkers, an amazing accomplishment for anyone, but even more so for a 15-year-old.

Jaxson Rylott, the overall winner of the Island’s 5K, crossing the finish line. (Credit: (Elitefeats)

Jaxson is one to watch in the future. The chilly weather on Saturday was welcomed by the Island winners, the same as it was by other racers, since the 10K has often been run on a warm, muggy June afternoon. “The breeze was nice on the inland roads,” Jason said, “and it really got windy” coming off Dering Harbor, where the view of the water has been cited as the best part of the race by many athletes.

For Bill Lehr, Jaxson Rylott, Jason Green and Stacey Kehl, it was also a reminder of the very special place they call home.