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A great day for the 10K ‘Sapphire’: Athletes salute Shelter Island on 45th running

One of the rituals of the Shelter Island 10K, on a day filled with them, is the gathering at the finish line at Fiske Field and waiting for the lead runners. They emerge from the trees as distant figures off Bateman Road, hitting the grass of the outfield, making their way in a long loop on the grass to break the tape.

But on Saturday, June 15, at the 45th annual 10K, named “The Sapphire,” it wasn’t runners but a single racer, coming out of the trees alone, running by himself halfway around the field before others entered for the final lap.

“What a pace!” said, Dr. Frank Adipietro, the veteran voice of the Island’s most important sporting event, as James Quattlebaum, 28, of Grenville, S.C., ran through the tape with a time of 29:42.43. For the 10 kilometers, or about 6.2 miles, Quattlebaum averaged 4:47 a mile on the course that traversed the Island, starting from the Wilson Traffic Circle and ending at Fiske Field.

He was the first of the 834 registered runners — race officials estimate that another 1,000 ran without registering.

James Quattlebaum, 28, of Grenville, S.C., was the winner of the Men’s Division of the 2024 Shelter Island 10K. (Credit: Adam Bundy)

If the Men’s Division was a literal runaway, the women had a thrilling fight to the finish line between Angie Rafter, 24, of Vernon, Conn., and Amelework Bosho, 37, of Washington, DC. Rafter finished in the time of 34:23.66, about a second ahead of Bosho.

In her winning performance, Rafter averaged 5:32 a mile over the course.

Angie Rafter, 24, of Vernon, Conn., just a step ahead of Amelework Bosho, 37, of Washington, DC, racing less than a mile to the finish line. (Credit: Eleanor P. Labrozzi)
A thrilling finish, with Rafter just a second ahead of Bosho for the win. (Credit: Adam Bundy)

Both winners received $1,500 in prize money.

Just past the finish line, Quattlebaum, glowing with sweat and adjusting his breathing to a normal pace in short order, said he had slowed a bit over the last mile and half or so because he could see he would win but didn’t have a good shot to beat the course record set by Simon Ndirangu in 2012 of 28:37.

The former cross country and track athlete at Clemson University, now managing a shoe store in his home town of Greenville and racing the 10K circuit, said the weather, hovering around 80 degrees for the race, wasn’t too bad. It was a clear day, with a bit of a breeze and a faint half-moon in a blue sky.

“It’s such a beautiful course, with lots of shade. But there are a couple of sneaky hills,” he said smiling, which took something out of him. He ran with the pack until about the 4-mile mark, and then broke free.

Rafter, the first woman across the line, said it was an exciting 10 kilometers, switching leads with Bosho for nearly the entire race. She had no problems with the hilly course, in fact the rises were to her advantage. “The hills made a difference,” she said, noting that she had passed packs of runners on the way up the elevations. “Training really kicked in,” Rafter said.

A recent graduate of Central Connecticut State University, she’s still there as an employee. She’s trained with a professional team but runs now with no affiliation. “I’m on my own,” she said, just as she was among all the women who competed on Saturday.

Wheelchair athlete

Some familiar faces were entered in the wheelchair division of the 10K. Peter Hawkins, 60, of Malvern, the perennial winner, kept his streak alive by finishing at 37:16.19.

Bill Lehr, 66, one of the most revered Shelter Island athletes of all time, who has raced on the course for more than 20 years, finished fourth Saturday with a time of 42:44.62. Norbert Holowat, 25, of Williston Park was back for his fourth 10K, finishing second with a time of 37:46.48. Newcomer to the race, Michael LaRose, 33, from Bay Shore, finished third at 41:21.78.

Joining his fellow athletes who were waiting for him beyond the finish line, Lehr said, drawing laughter from everyone, “These guys already have a shower?”

“Bill Lehr is the winner. Always,” said Hawkins.

The wheelchair racers sent kudos to the Highway Department, who had filled potholes throughout the course and repaved whole sections near the turn into Fiske Field.

The course, which Runner’s World has called one of the most beautiful in the country, spends about half its length on the waterfront. That appealed to women’s winner Rafter. “Oh, yes!” she said. “I’m a water girl,” and was inspired by the scenery to keep pushing.

Shortly after the gun went off at Wilson Circle, runners were greeted by ringing bells at St. Mary’s, though not before taking on two steep hills. The second mile proved no easier, as the road comes to a peak next to green fields, before gradually descending back to sea level. “That was a tough one,” men’s winner Quattlebaum said.

Unsuspecting runners attacked those hills, pushed forward by cheering crowds and the inevitable adrenaline rush that followed. But the third mile took runners up Manhanset Road to the edge of Gardiner’s Bay Country Club and into the most scenic segment of the race. The shimmering waters of Peconic Bay greeted runners once they turned onto Sylvester Road. This impressed DaRose, the newcomer wheelchair racer. “Really beautiful” he said.

Pristinely manicured hedges funneled joggers down Shore Road, and after a short break, the hills resumed. Returning to Route 114 for a brief stretch, contenders followed Midway Road south.

Then, preserving an honored Shelter Island tradition, middle and high school students had placed flags to line the last mile of the 10K, designated “Joey’s Mile” in honor of fallen hero First Lt. Joseph Theinert, who lost his life in Afghanistan in June 2010.

The students placed more than 7,000 flags, each one representing an American killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was then onto the grass of Fiske Field, where all runners, walkers and wheelchair athletes finished. All received medals for their accomplishments, and cheers from friends, family and Islanders out for their great race on a mild Saturday evening in June.

Runners of all ages were part of the 45th annual Shelter Island 10K. (Credit: Eleanor P. Labrozzi)

5K Results

In the 5K, Leland Davies, 23, of East Brunswick, N.J., was first across the line with a time of 17:55.84. The first woman finisher was August Anderson, 30, of Riverhead, who finished with a time of  22:36.71.

Henry Springer, 15, was the first Islander to finish with a time of  21:21.48, and Michelle Sheinker, 24, was the first Island woman with a time of 28:46.72.

(The Reporter will bring you a story on the first Islanders across the line in the 10K on this site and in our June 20 print edition.)