10K back on track
Runners return with June date but heat, humidity take a toll
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“Shelter Island is back,” back on the map, that is, as a 1,000-plus participant road race, Shelter Island Run co-founder Cliff Clark declared after Saturday's 10K run and 5K community walk.
The race returned to June with a bang — a 50 percent increase in runners and walkers over last year's cool turnout in May. But it also came with an unusually high number of medical emergencies related to heat and dehydration. One of those emergencies came when an experienced Russian female runner, the leading woman into the Fiske Field homestretch, became disoriented and fell only about 30 yards from the finish line.
Worku Beyi, 21, of Ethiopia, one of several elite runners making return appearances to the Island 10K, won the 29th annual Island race in 29:49; he took second in 2006. He was in the middle or back of a pack of six runners that led 1,252 participants from the start of the race in front of the Shelter Island School. They rounded the turn from North Ferry to St. Mary's Road together and became a pack of five that eventually stretched out on the flat of Ram Island Road past Paard Hill before the turn up Cobbett's Lane.
Beyi and fellow Ethiopian Demesse Tefera, 25, moved on as the original pack disintegrated into a line of runners led by just two. Beya and Tefera are familiar rivals who alternate first and second place finishes; on Saturday, they often ran with identical strides. By the time the pair reached the bridge over Gardiners Creek, no other runners were in sight.
They swapped slight leads on the return to North Ferry Road but were side by side entering Midway Road and the last uphill push to the finish at Fiske Field. Beyi had the edge at the end, reaching the finish line just 4 seconds ahead of Tefera. Finishing out the top five were Deresse Deniboba of Ethiopia, 30:22, Theophilas Musyoki Musyoka of Kenya, 30:29, and in the top bracket for the third year in a row, 34-year-old John Itati of Kenya, 30:57.
Aziza Aliyu, 22, of Ethiopia, placed first for the women but appeared exhausted and moaned as she crossed the finish line. She was smiling an hour later at the awards ceremony but later that evening after the post-race party, 10K medical staff made a house call to her room at the Dering Harbor Inn. She was suffering from dehydration according to Dr. Frank Adipietro.
Silvia Skvortsova of Russia led the women up to the end when she collapsed. The 33-year-old finished the first mile in a blistering 4:45, just three seconds off the male winner's time and an unsustainable pace for a 10K, race co-founder Cliff Clark said Monday. “We cautioned the runners to respect the last part of the race,” he said. “Those who haven't been patient pay the price” on the final three-quarter mile, which is all uphill.
“We could feel it was a little warm,” Mr. Clark commented, so the race organizers encouraged the runners to hydrate prior to the start and re-hydrate during the race. But many elites pressed on past the water stations.
Finishing a minute behind Aliyu was Diane Nukuri in 35:16. She trains in Iowa with the husband of Islander Alexis Hamblett and will run for her home country of Burundi in the Beijing Olympics. Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia finished third in 36:15 followed by East End runner Caroline Bierbaum of Southampton, 36:26, and Lyndsey Webber of Sayville in 38:11.
Diane Kenna of New York City took the female Masters division in 40:16. Finishing second for the second year in a row was marathon headliner Kim Jones followed by last year's Masters winner and 10K Board member Barbara Gubbins.
Kenyan Paul Mwangi, a familiar face at the race, took the male Masters division for the second straight year. He won his first Island 10K in 2002 and took a top five finish each subsequent year before entering the Masters, a division for serious runners over age 40. Piotr Karasiewicz of Brooklyn came in second and Stephen Marsalese of Rye Brook finished out the top three Masters.
Jesse Walsh of Huntington, the 2006 wheelchair champ, took that division again this year in 31:35, the fastest wheelchair time since repeat champ Peter Hawkins' win in 2003; Hawkins of Malverne took second this year. Finishing out the field were Adam Cruz (13) of Brentwood, Islander William Lehr, Luis Pulguachi (11) of Corona and Sonia Seehra (14)of Holliswood.
Members of Rolling Thunder, a non-profit organization supporting developmentally disabled athletes, crossed the finish line — some with aids, others on their own — to cheers from the spectators. A few came in after the awards ceremony started and announcer Don Bindler interrupted the presentation of medals to acknowledge them.
Lehr was the first Shelter Island resident to cross the finish line and did so in 38:16. Lauren Laviola, 26, was the first-place woman with a Shelter Island registration. Other top Island runners are listed on page 51.
Weather inviting, risky
The weather was comfortable for spectators at shady spots along the course but warm temperatures combined with humidity dehydrated many runners. Over 15 participants including two unconscious runners were treated in the medical tent at Fiske Field, compared to just three or four runners needing assistance during May 10Ks.
The warm race day weather prompted organizers to scramble Saturday afternoon to add 45 cases of water to supplies at the finish line, Mr. Clark said. He thanked volunteers from Timothy Hill Ranch and East End Hospice for pitching in.
According to finish line technician David Katz, a total of 1,084 registrants finished the 10K and 168 completed the 5K walk. The number of registrations that were mailed in, logged online or entered the day of the race (estimated at 300) is expected to total 1,500, a marked increase over May races in recent years; last year a rainy forecast limited turnout to under 800 registrants.
“We've gotten emails galore” praising the event, Race Director Mary Ellen Adipietro said Monday. Newcomers commented on the “wonderful” people of Shelter Island and returning runners said “‘thanks for bringing it back to June,'” according to Ms. Adipietro.
“I cannot overstate Mary Ellen's involvement,” Mr. Clark said after publicly thanking the race director and all of the organizers and volunteers during Saturday's awards ceremony. 10K Board member Harry Hackett, the first board member to finish the race Saturday, was credited with enlarging the elite field, particularly for his involvement in bringing headliners Keith Brantly and Kim Pawelek to the race. Ms. Pawelek's story of escaping as a child on the last plane out of Saigon was one of many race stories worth telling, Mr. Clark said during the awards ceremony. Pawelek finished in sixth for females overall.
“What a wonderful race this was,” Mr. Brantly said at the awards ceremony, adding that it was “a little hot, a little humid.” He thanked the race sponsors, businesses and individuals who fund the race and donate everything from the T-shirts to the portable toilets. Conspicuous among them this year was new sponsor JetBlue, whose blue pendants and banners appeared above water stations and the awards stage.
Mr. Brantly, who said he “started late,” meaning in the back of the pack, finished 92nd but more than held up his pre-race offer to donate $1 dollar for each runner who finished ahead of him. He upped the total to $200, saying, “I look forward to coming back next year for the 30th.”
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