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Cougar 3200 runs in the family for East Meadow's Gradys
The Cougar 3200 isn’t an ordinary race. The signature event at the Cougar Invitational, held Saturday at Bellmore JFK High School, pits nine runners against each other. But the similarities to a regular 3200 end there. At the end of each lap, the last place runner is eliminated, setting up a one-on-one final lap between the two lone survivors.
For runners, who can be creatures of habit, this is a daunting situation. But, not for East Meadow’s Mike Grady. After all, Grady had an ally - his older brother, Sean. Sean, now a freshman at New Haven University, won the same event at last year’s Cougar Invitational.
Mike, who also participated last year but was eliminated before the final lap, called his brother on Friday night. Sean had a simple message.
Keep the title in the family.
Grady made his brother proud, winning the event in 10 minutes, 5.7 seconds. Not only did the sophomore win, but he was never in any significant danger of being eliminated - coasting his way toward the front and never looking back. Mepham's Chucky Skidmore finished second in 10:14.9.
According to Grady, the hardest part of the elimination run is the start. With runners desperately trying to stay on the track longer than a lap, all thoughts of pacing are lost. It only took a little over a minute to complete the first lap.
“No two mile should go out in 63 seconds,” Grady said with a laugh. “That was different. But, I had the same mindset - coast. Since everyone was going to be dead after running a 60 second lap, I just stayed in the middle and coasted after that.”
Carey’s Katey Veron’s path to an 11:02.5 victory in the Cougar 3000 was a little more stressful. Division's Nicole Connolly came in second at 11:10.7.
Twice, Veron had to sprint to the finish to avoid elimination.
“I’ve never run anything like this,” Veron said. “I’ve been working on my sprinting, so I have a kick at the end. I just kept up with the top girls until the 100 meter mark and then I just sprinted.”
After crossing the finish line first, Veron determined that the unorthodox race was something she really enjoyed.
“I liked that it was a different type of race,” she said. “It’s more about thinking about where you are and making a strategy.”