GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Runners hit the course at the start of the 34th annual Shelter Island 10K Run.
SHELTER ISLAND 10K RUN
The Boston Marathon.
At least for the foreseeable future, those words bring to mind the horrific images of the bombings that occurred on April 15, reportedly killing three and injuring 264.
Noting the peaceful nature of his sport, Bill Rodgers, one of running’s beloved elder statesmen, couldn’t help but point out the “sad irony” that such an attack has become associated with a joyous sporting event.
Rodgers, a former United States Olympian and four-time winner of both the Boston and New York City marathons, was home with his girlfriend watching the marathon on television when the explosions went off.
“You don’t believe it’s real,” he said. “It is personal for all of us.”
And by “us,” Rodgers was referring to the running community, which has banded together in support of Boston. So, runners continue to run and compete.
“It’s kind of like a healing process,” Rodgers said. “Boston, I think, shook them up bad.”
The impact of those bombings continues to be felt. Two months to the day of those attacks, the Boston Marathon was undoubtedly on the minds of many at the 34th annual Shelter Island 10K Run on Saturday. One could see it from the stepped up security to the pre-race ceremony to the items worn by the runners. Some runners wore T-shirts with the words “BOSTON STRONG” printed on them. Many wore wristbands. One of Rodgers’ wristbands read, “We Run As One.”
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Many people were undoubtedly thinking about Boston, but it would only be understandable if Ethiopia was on Ayele Megersa Feyisa’s mind. Nearing the end a three-month spell in the United States during which he competed in nine road races, Feyisa ran for the first time on Shelter Island and the last time before heading back to his African homeland on Tuesday. He ran a time most human beings could only dream about, and recorded a triumph only a tiny percentage of runners ever get to experience, yet he was disappointed, nonetheless.
Sure, Feyisa captured first place, but he didn’t break the meet record. The 25-year-old Ethiopian, who has been living in New York City, fell 22 seconds short of the course mark that was set last year by Simon Ndirangu of Kenya. Ndirangu had himself clipped three seconds off the previous record that Alena Reta of Ethiopia set in 2010.
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | The victims of the bombings at the Boston Marathon were remembered at the Shelter Island 10K Run on Saturday.
Feyisa was looking to put the record back in an Ethiopian’s hands — his hands — but it wasn’t in the cards. His winning time of 28:59 was hardly shabby, though. He finished six seconds ahead of the runner-up, Amos Sang, a Kenyan who lives in Manchester, Conn.
But Feyisa, who does not speak English, did not look pleased afterward. His manager, Alem Kahsay, who acted as a translator for reporters, confirmed as much.
“He feels bad because he tried to break the course record,” Kahsay said. “He’s happy [with his training], but he’s not happy today.”
The baking sun may have had something to do with keeping that course record out of reach. Feyisa also indicated that the hilly course was a challenge. “It’s very difficult, down, up,” he said following his fourth victory from nine road races.
Feyisa, running a 4:40 mile pace, took the lead on the second mile. Sang said he was close by until he slowed down a little on the fourth mile. Feyisa “kept pushing it,” Sang said. “He tried to press it. By mile four he was alone by himself.”
Sang sounded delighted with his performance and seemed to enjoy the experience. “I was not expecting second place,” he said. “Everything was amazing.”
Girma Gebre of New York City was third in 30:26. He was followed by Glarius Rop of Springfield, Mass., (31:09), Abdelhadi El Mouaziz of Queens (31:29), Abdelkebir Lamachi of Queens (31:43), Joseph Ekuon of Kingston (33:41) and Thomas Rammelkamp of Miller Place (33:57).
The next one to cross the finish line was the women’s winner, Katie Di Camillo, 26, of Providence, R.I.. She clocked a time of 34:19.
“I’m excited,” said Di Camillo, who ran cross-country and track for both Holy Trinity High School and Providence College. “I finished strong.”
The next four finishers were women as well: New York City residents Hirut Beyene Guangul (34:33) and Tsehay Gebre Getiso (34:51), Askale Merachi of Jackson Heights (35:16) and Atalelech Asfaw of Albuquerque, N.M. (35:35).
The top local runners were Keith Steinbrecher of Wading River (16th in 37:07), Bryan Knipfing of Shelter Island Heights (24th in 38:49), Rick Buckheit of Southold (33rd in 40:36) and Kyle Lehman of Cutchogue (37th in 41:15). The first local woman to finish was Suzy Heffernan of Cutchogue. She was 23rd in 46:56.
Nine hundred and seventy-two runners finished the race.
The Shelter Island race was further evidence that the spirit of athletics does not die easily. Runners are by nature a determined group.
“Shocking, shocking, shocking,” Sang said when reminded of the Boston bombings. “It’s something that happened, but we love running. We enjoy running. We’re not going to stop. We’re going to keep going.”