Kenyan runner shatters LI's 5k record
Related mediaOlympic hopeful will try to break the LI 5k record
An Olympic hopeful from Kenya shattered Long Island's 5k record Thursday in Oyster Bay, a victory that will help his village get clean water.
Stephen Sambu, 25, left the 2009 record of 14:43 in the dust with a time of 14:04 at the second annual Oyster Bay Turkey Trot Thursday morning.
"It was very cold," a victorious Sambu said, smiling and sweating shortly after crossing the finish line at Oyster Bay High School. "I'm happy because I'm done with it."
It wasn't just the Island's 5k record on the line, but funding to help buy Sambu's village a water purification system to prevent people from getting sick and dying from contaminated water.
Vince Giambanco, the race organizer, said Sambu's cause will get at least $500 from registration fees but no final figure has been determined.
Giambanco, who wants the Oyster Bay Turkey Trot to be a magnet for more elite runners, had lured Sambu from a sunny California trot with a promise of aid if he beat the Island record.
"He crushed it," said Giambanco, founder of Citius New York, a running team. "You could tell he never slowed."
He said he was impressed by how Sambu did in the frigid and windy conditions.
Sambu is fresh from taking the 2013 men's title in the Boston Athletic Association's three-race series and its $100,000 pot, some of which will go toward his cause.
He didn't meet his personal goal to finish the circuit under 14 minutes. He said his best 5k time was 13:13 on a track and 13:21 on roads, but he's more used to running in warmer weather.
"The wind was very strong," Sambu said.
He might have been slowed when a motorist on a residential street made a U-turn in front of him and almost hit the 5k lead car, a golf cart.
Sambu had broken away early from the pack of more than 1,100 contestants, through a road course that he saw for the first time Wednesday after arriving in New York late Tuesday night.
Still, a few minutes into the race Thursday, he was alone.
"I don't like running alone," he said. "I don't know if I'm running slow or fast."
Sambu seemed to flag a tiny bit right before the harbor, but when he saw the water, he said, "I knew I had one mile to go, so I just pushed it."
Jesse Abrahams, 28, who raced in garb that won him $100 as the best Teddy Roosevelt costume at the trot, praised the victor.
"It's amazing," said Abrahams, visiting his parents in Oyster Bay. "He obviously has a talent. He might as well use that talent for good, to help people, especially on Thanksgiving."