Blue skies brought out hundreds of runners of all ages Saturday to kick off races at the RXR Long Island Marathon Weekend.
Stephen Kress, 28, of Manhattan, first place male finisher in the 5K race with a time of 16:25, said the weather made his run enjoyable.
"I don't know if it was because it was such a beautiful day or a shorter run; it kind of just lent itself to having more fun," he said.
The atmosphere at this year's event, for which more than 8,500 runners have registered, was a marked difference from last year's weekend, 2 1/2 weeks after the Boston Marathon bombings.
Jason Lipset, director of the event at the Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, said the mood is "less somber . . . because we don't have that tragedy hovering over. Unfortunately, what happened in Boston created a whole lot of fear, but it also created a whole lot of solidarity."
A pyrotechnic display is scheduled to go off at 8 a.m. at the start of Sunday's races, which include a half and a full marathon, Lipset said. Organizers pulled the fireworks last year because "it was insensitive."
Still, some safety protocols introduced last year remain. "As a fallout from Boston, there's a no-bag rule, which means you can't bring bags to the start area or the finish area," Lipset said.
Runners will be given clear bags to store belongings, and police will check all bags before people enter the event expo site.
As a warm-up to Sunday's events, runners competed in the 5K and a 1-mile race Saturday, while children ages 1-11 galloped in the Kids Fun Run emceed by Ronald McDonald. Kids races ranged from 10 meters for 1-year-olds (The Diaper Dash) to 200 meters for 10- and 11-year-olds.
Five-year-old Ryan Britz, of Sayville, colored his running bib in bright green and purple markers before the race as his grandparents Bill and Liz Britz, who are competing Sunday, watched. "I can run really fast," said Ryan. "I want to go on the first-place thing so I can win."
Alison Briggs, 16, a Commack High School junior and top female finisher in the 5K race, said her time of 20:39 was a personal best. "I'm happy because I can inspire other runners to want to train harder," she said.
Trent Hampton, 35, of West Babylon, and Maggie Maier, 12, of Atlantic Beach, were the top male and female finishers in the 1-mile run, with respective times of 5:12 and 6:23.