Runners flooded Heckscher State Park for the inaugural Suffolk County Marathon and half-marathon Sunday morning.
Just under 1,000 marathoners and 2,600 half-marathoners took part, including Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who wore the No. 1 bib for the event and finished with a personal best 4:42:51 in the full marathon.
The two races raised money for veterans' groups, and 173 active military and veteran runners registered. All participants received a medal.
Eric Carver, a master sergeant in the 106th Rescue Wing of the Air National Guard out of Westhampton and a Patchogue resident, said there were lots of fans along the course and plenty of water to combat the humidity.
"It's fun being part of the inaugural race. There'll be only one," he said.
JoAnn Lyles, of Sag Harbor, whose son Marine Lance Cpl. Jordan C. Haerter died in Iraq, was sponsoring four runners for Team Jordan.
"It's definitely good that it's raising money for veterans," she said.
Chao Zhou, 39, of Manhattan, finished first in the marathon just ahead of Jerry Pannullo, 45, of East Islip. Caroline Levesque, 34, of Tiverton, Rhode Island, finished the women's full marathon first.
Anthony Famiglietti, 36, a graduate of Patchogue-Medford High School and a professional track and field athlete, finished first in the men's half-marathon. Pamela O'Sullivan, 27, of Babylon, was the first female half-marathon finisher.
Famiglietti finished the run in 1:07 and O'Sullivan followed at 1:24.
"Everything was national class, as far as the marathon goes," said Famiglietti, who now lives in Morrisville, North Carolina. "It's good to be home."
Pannullo said he had a shot at first place but cramped up at the end. "This is my home course," he said. "I run in Heckscher all the time."
The road races ran through South Shore downtowns. The marathon continued to Patchogue before looping back; the half-marathon turned around at Oakdale.
Proceeds from the race will go to veteran nonprofit organizations. County spokeswoman Vanessa Baird Streeter said more than $100,000 had been raised.
Bellone said the county would conduct an "after-action review" to evaluate how to proceed next year.
"It was awesome," Bellone said. "An amazing turnout on the streets that got me pumped up, excited."
He pronounced it "tougher than running in November," last year when he participated in the New York City Marathon.
Some Suffolk lawmakers ran as a relay team in the half-marathon.
Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) said despite concerns by some churchgoers about the impact due to road closures, he believed the race would go on next year.
"It's for a great cause and hopefully the inconveniences weren't as much as expected," said Cilmi, who ran the first three miles of a relay with several county lawmakers.
Bay Shore nutritionist John Michel, 38, thought about giving up during the half-marathon, but his heart and love for family wouldn't allow it.
"It's grueling," said Michel, a father who has lost several family members in the past few years to cancer and diabetes.
"Every time you think about stopping you can't," Michel, a vegetarian, said. "I have relatives who didn't make it, lives were cut short."
After crossing the finish line, he rested in damp green grass for a few minutes, surrounded by his wife and son.
"I have to continue waving the banner of nutrition," he said. "I have to live the gospel that I'm speaking."
Locals said they were excited to run a hometown race.
"This looks like a good course," said Christine Pinkosh, 42, of Shirley. "If it's too boring, I have too many conversations with myself."
Rich and Holly Ahronheim, of Merrick, wanted to be in the first race. "It's great having something relatively close to home," Holly Ahronheim said.
Race spectator Marissa Bellion, 33, of South Setauket arrived at the park at 6 a.m. with her sister, Christianne Jensen, 29, of Sayville, who was running the half-marathon.
Bellion said her younger sister is an avid runner who wanted to take part in a South Shore marathon.
"I'm here to cheer her on and take pictures and document the event," Bellion said.
Paula Wolff, of Coram, waited to catch a glimpse of her daughter, Allyson Wolff, 35, of Shirley, who was running in the marathon.
"Oh, there goes my daughter," Wolff, 61, said waving to her daughter who jogged past about 8:13 a.m. "I didn't think I would see her; looking for her friends now. I think this is great and it's supporting a charity."
Robert Wood, 47, of Centereach, attended the marathon with a handful of members from his Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4927 in Centereach.
"We're just supporting everyone in the race," he said.