Two runners with Long Island roots were victorious in this year's Long Island Marathon on Sunday, as thousands competed to test their strength and endurance while others ran to keep healthy and build bonds with fellow runners.
The men's division winner, William Schefer, 23, an Old Brookville native who now lives in Hawaii, came home to take the 26.2 mile race in 2 hours, 31 minutes and 25 seconds. Tara Farrell, 35, of East Quogue, won the women's division in 3 hours, 5 minutes, 58 seconds.
"I thought I had a shot to win because I did look at previous times, and I knew what kind of shape I was in," Schefer said after the race.
Schefer, a personal trainer who began preparing three months ago, said he ran virtually alone for nearly six miles after the halfway mark before second-place finisher Oz Pearlman, 31, caught up to him. This was Schefer's first marathon and he beat out Pearlman, a professional magician of New York City, who won his fourth New Jersey Marathon title just one week ago.
Farrell -- who manages Gubbins Running Ahead, a Southampton running shoe store -- placed third in last year's race. She said she switched up her training routine to secure a victory this time around in the race, averaging 80 miles of running each week.
But the race -- competed under overcast skies and into stiff winds -- was not only about being the fastest. Some participants wished only to make it to the end.
Around 1:30 p.m., marathon runners continued to cross the finish line, including Fred Petrie, 60, of Woodbridge, who completed the course in 5 hours and 19 minutes while "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor blasted over loudspeakers.
Although he fell and hurt his leg during the race, Petrie -- who hadn't run a marathon since 1997 -- celebrated his personal victory with a cup of beer.
"It was wonderful," he said, surrounded by his family. "Well, after mile 20 you start to lose it."
For Laurie Rosenberg, 42, of North Bellmore, it was her first marathon. "I loved it. I don't know if I'd do it again. But maybe ask me in three weeks," she said after finishing the full marathon in 5 hours 30 minutes.
The 8,000 runners for the full-, half marathons and 10-kilometer races started at Charles Lindbergh Boulevard in Uniondale near the Nassau Coliseum.
Security, although still tight, was less stringent than it was during last year's events, which happened about three weeks after the bombing at the Boston Marathon. In that attack, three people were killed and more than 200 were injured.
Nassau County police spokesman Insp. Kenneth Lack said Sunday that the marathon was a security success. "There were no arrests and everything ran extremely smoothly," he said.
Last week, top Nassau County police officials met with Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano to discuss the event's security plan, where Mangano said no specific threats were looming.
Clear bags were provided for use in place of backpacks and police officers were seen checking strollers and bags at the finish line. A sign warned that unattended items left on the ground would be discarded and more than a dozen officers funneled runners at the finish line to a single exit point, while canine units and mounted police were on standby.
Stephanie Cosola, 46, of Garden City, ran her first marathon -- the Long Island Marathon -- in 2005 and has run 29 or 30 races since, she said, at the finish line. "It's in my backyard," she said. She ran the 2013 Boston Marathon and was coming through the finish chute when the bomb exploded in Boston. She went back to run the Boston Marathon this year, but wanted to make sure she ran the Long Island Marathon. "There's such good energy," she said. "I didn't worry at all."
Queens resident Grace Tursi, 28, who ran the 10k said she didn't fear a possible repeat of last year's Boston bombing. "I felt pretty safe. There was always security around," she said.
The finish line inside Eisenhower Park was festive with music playing and a trailer dispensing free beer as an announcer called out finishers' names and gave updates on marathon runners.
Kevin Kowalczyk, 38, a teacher from Melville, has been doing the race every year since 2007. He called it a "special race."
"You get to see your family cheering you on -- that's not something you get with the New York City Marathon," he said.
James Turturro, 35, of Hicksville, said the cloudy skies were good and crowds cheering on runners helped.
"There was good support along the race," Turturro said after finishing the half marathon. "Some people say it's boring, but it's still Long Island, and I'm a Long Island guy."
Victor Hillergren, 20, of Westbury, completed the 10k and hopes to work up his stamina for the New York City Marathon in November.
The race, Hillergren says, "pushes me to stay in shape. It definitely keeps me motivated."
Catalina Lasso, 29, of Ecuador, who is vacationing in the United States for three weeks, she said she didn't even break a sweat while running the 10k.
"It was a walk in the park," Lasso said, explaining that the challenge of running at higher altitudes in her country makes it easy to run at lower altitudes in places like Long Island.
But Flor Bencosme, 28, of Bellmore, who ran with four friends to form a stronger bond in their group, was not as refreshed after she ran the 10k.
"I'm tired," she said after crossing the finish line.
Hundreds of spectators lined the course and gathered at the finish line as temperatures dropped into the mid-50s in late morning.
Mike Addeo, 29, originally from East Islip but now of Boston, cheered for his girlfriend, Eve Marnsevich, who was running the half marathon. He held a poster with a meme of Grumpy Cat, of Internet fame, with the words, "I ran once. It was awful," but wrote encouraging words next to it: "Ignore the cat. Go Eve Go.'"
"I love it," Addeo said of the event. "I'm not ever going to run it, but I'll be here every time to carry her home."
Doug Hoch, 24, of Glen Head, cheered on his girlfriend, Ashley Janelli, who couldn't persuade him to run with her.
"I encourage her mentally," Hoch said, sitting on a set of bleachers midway through the marathon. "She woke up nervous this morning but I calmed her down, letting her know that she could do it."
While Janelli didn't prepare much for the 10k run, Hoch described her as a former lacrosse player who stays in shape.
Peggy Maher, 38, of Bethpage, and her two children were all rooting on her husband, David Maher, who ran the 10k for the first time.
"He just started running in the last year and trained for two weeks," Maher said.
"It's perfect for them, a little chilly for us," said Charles Edmonds, 55, of Rocky Point, whose wife, Christine, and son, Michael, are running the half marathon.
Elected officials were out to encourage the runners, including Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who was high-fiving winners at the end of the 10k race while Mangano nearby cheered them on.
Shortly before the race, participants stretched, meditated and conducted inspirational conversations as part of last minute preparations.
NYPD Officer Al Arce, who has run in the race twice before, hurried across Field 3 to the starting point with a group of other policemen.
Arce, who patrols in Brooklyn, called the run "exhilarating" and said he was running in part "for those who have fallen before him."
Other runners said they signed up for the marathon in a quest to stay physically fit.
Jill Loveland, 28, of Hicksville, remained encouraged about her results as she finished the half marathon.
"It's not in my limits to finish first," said Loveland, who used the race as preparation for a future Ironman Triathlon. "That's my long-term goal."
For Sarah Reynolds, 28, of Manhattan, completing her first marathon was a personal fitness feat.
"It's about reaching a goal and being healthy," she said.