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Party atmosphere marks 43rd Annual Shelter Island 10K

With the pre-race temperature at 66 degrees, Dr. Frank Adipietro, the voice of the Shelter Island 10K, sat shivering in front of his microphone Saturday in the Center and said, “It really is cold.”

In shorts and a T-shirt, he thought there could be records broken because of the absence of heat. Many past 10K races saw temperatures soar and exhausted runners staggering as they crossed the finish line at Fiske Field, grasping for ice bags and water.

There were no records broken — except perhaps for coldest day.  Medical tent nurse Beth Carey said she and the team were grateful not to have to respond to any critical issues. A standby ambulance from the race’s main sponsor, Northwell Health, stood outside the field with a team of EMTs ready to treat anyone who might need them.

Other race sponsors were the Daniel Gale Foundation, the Chequit, Hampton Jitney, North Fork Surgery Center, Penelope Moore from Saunders, Freshouse and the Taranto Family Foundation.

The festive atmosphere that has always attended the event was very much present both before and after the race. Much of the enthusiasm was generated by the realization that after a two-year hiatus, the race was back in person with large numbers of participants. There were 684 runners who finished the 10K and 533 who completed the 5K, according to numbers posted by Elitefeats, the race timers.

In 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic flaring, there was no race. In 2021, it was a virtual race with participants reporting times from their own runs and providing pictures. But this year, despite a recent spike in numbers of cases, there haven’t been the high number of deaths and hospitalizations that resulted from the original pandemic strain. Those facts allowed the Town Board to approve up to 2,000 participants.

Opening ceremonies featured a word from Race Director Mary Ellen Adipietro to wish participants luck as they prepared to start the 43rd year of the event. Shelter Island School Class of 2022 Valedictorian Myla Dougherty led the Pledge of Allegiance and Lenore DiLeo-Berner offered a stirring rendition of the National Anthem.

Amanda Byington Rangaiah thanked race organizers and the crowd for honoring her late father, Jack Byington, who ran the race from its inception for 32 years, before retiring at age 80. Even then, he was a member of the race’s Board of Directors, and always was present at races.

He was a jogger before other people had begun running, Ms. Rangaiah said, noting neighbors used to ask the family where Jack was going when he ran past their houses. That the race was dedicated to her dad the day before Father’s Day, Ms. Rangaiah called “ridiculously meaningful. My dad showed up and did his best,” Ms. Rangaiah said, as she prepared to run Saturday’s 10K with a team of relatives.

Dr. Adipietro reminded racers that as they neared the end of the course, they would run “Joey’s Mile,” where 7,117 American flags line the course each year in recognition of those Americans who lost their lives during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The mile is named for Islander 1st Lt. Joseph Theinert, killed in action on June 4 2010, in Afghanistan

A team of about 28 family, friends and neighbors came together at Saturday’s race to support Cassidy Swowey, 2, who has been diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.

Mom Megan Swowey of Hampton Bays described her daughter as “very active and very sassy,” as the 2-year-old cuddled in her arms, surrounded by team members sporting shirts that said: “Sometimes real super heroes live in the hearts of small children fighting big battles.”

Six of their numbers ran the 10K with the rest participating in the 5K. If the pre-race drink for race participants was bottled water, following the race, Greenport Harbor Brewing was on hand to offer free beer to those 21 and over. Food trucks dotted the area around the Community Center.

It was party time for all, despite a cool, windy evening with occasional sprinkles of rain. Food, drink, sport and community had made it a Shelter Island 10K Saturday to remember.