A historic day in Suffolk County
Taylor and Nick Guercio of Brightwaters finished the half marathon in preparation for the NYC Marathon in November.


A historic day in Suffolk County


ISLIP TOWN—There was quite a bit of activity on the South Shore of Suffolk County in the Town of Islip last Sunday as the long awaited and first Suffolk County Marathon and Half Marathon got underway. For the most part, the event got off without a hitch and transitioned smoothly as the runners traveled east from Heckscher State Park in East Islip and returned there sometime later to the cheers from scores of well-wishers who turned out to greet them.

More than 3,500 runners hit the pavement, coming from near and far. In fact, there were runners from 26 states participating, some of them from as far away as California. A plethora of spectators lined the courses brandishing signs, banners and noisemakers for encouragement. Volunteers from various schools and organizations worked the many water stations, and Catholic Health Services volunteers manned medical tents set up along the route. The marathon course extended along Montauk Highway through the hamlets of Oakdale, Sayville, Bayport and Blue Point before turning westward to head back to the park. The half marathon course took runners through Oakdale and then meandered through the St. John’s University property, passing the Bourne Mansion. Runners Nick and Taylor Guercio of Brightwaters later said the mansion was where they had their wedding reception 10 years ago.

“It was fantastic,” Nick said regarding the race, even though both noted the conditions that day were “muggy.” Both plan on running the NYC Marathon in November. “This was a good warm-up for that,” Nick added.

Chris Wagner of Sayville ran the half marathon with a friend, Alex Gettelman of Freeport.

“It was a well-organized race and a great experience,” Wagner said.

Brian Gunderson of Medford, who also ran the half marathon in the 55-59 category, said it was a tough one, though.

“Ninety-three percent humidity is not ideal running conditions,” he remarked. “This was a good idea, though.”

Meanwhile, Bayport resident Jim Murphy, who completed the full marathon, said having the race so close outweighed the heat and humidity that day. “It was nice to be able to sleep a little later. At least I didn’t have to rush to get here,” he remarked.

And neither did Shayne Lewis of Bay Shore, who ran the full marathon in the 25-29 category. He had also completed an Iron Man Race the week before. “I’m drained, but it’ll pass,” he said.

The St. Anthony’s High School history teacher and crew coach said he enjoyed being a part of the event.

“[The course] was gorgeous. The staff was amazing. It was just a very cool race,” he said.

The many veterans organizations that will benefit from the proceeds from this event are no doubt pleased as well. Many of them set up informational booths in the park.

One of them, Suffolk County United Veterans, is focused on the homeless issues some vets face. Wilkins Young, director of the nonprofit organization, said, “We get guys off of the street.”

The group arranges temporary and permanent housing for homeless vets while offering them mental health services, treatment and also job placement. “Our goal is to end homeless veterans in 2016,” he added.

The total amount of money gleaned by the event will be available by the end of this week. However, organizers are very pleased with the outcome of the race overall.

“We are extremely happy with the fact that more than 3,500 people came out to run or see friends or family participate in this first Suffolk County Marathon,” said County Executive Steve Bellone. “Programs for veterans right here in Suffolk County will benefit from the thousands of dollars raised through this marathon.” Bellone added that the county would conduct an “after action” review of the event “to make sure that any issues that arose on race day are addressed for future events,” he added.

For complete race results, go to the website www.justfinish.net.