Where the shoe-rubber meets the road, all was normal in Sunday]'s Long Island Marathon and its accompanying events, the half-marathon and 10 kilometer races. Boston's bombings may have laid bare the conundrum of securing any public event, especially one that stretches more than 26 miles, but for the species of runner who tackles such long-distance events, there is no road not taken.
The races were scheduled. So they ran. More than 6,000 in the three events -- almost 700 in the full marathon -- roughly the same number as a year ago.
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"I was signed up a long time ago," women's full marathon champion Kelly Gillen said. "I was going to run this anyway." Her plan was set even before she ran Boston last month, finishing long before the trouble there.
Sunday, Gillen, a 30-year-old New York City resident who lived in Manhasset as a pre-teen, ran a personal best 3 hours, 3 minutes and 4 seconds -- roughly eight minutes faster than she completed Boston. So soon after that marathon, "I didn't know how my legs would be, but I feel pretty good," Gillen said. "I'll probably be prone in a couple of hours."
Men's winner Derek Rammelkamp (2:32:10) of Centereach had decided to try the marathon distance for the first time because "this is the big local event on Long Island. I like to run all the local events. New York City was going to be my marathon debut but it was canceled by Sandy."
Rammelkemp and his 23-year-old twin, Thomas -- who stuck with Derek for 18 miles but eventually finished fourth -- both had run high school track for Miller Place High School and at Wagner College. Both are now grad students at Stony Brook University.
So, while helicopters buzzed overhead like never before at this event -- Sunday was the 40th anniversary of the local marathon -- with some police toting assault rifles and troopers "everywhere," said women's third-place marathon finisher Tara Farrell of East Quoque, runners kept on keeping on. (Farrell ran a personal best of 3:09:25, just behind Garden City's Kristen McElroy's 3:07:25, and said she "couldn't be happier" with the result."
There were a handful of "I run for Boston" T-shirts worn by runners-mostly is the middle of the pack of competitors. But far more common were shirts proclaiming connections to running clubs or schools.
"My feeling," said men's half-marathon winner (1:07:47) Christopher Mills, a 23-year-old from Falls Church, Va., "is you don't need to make a big deal about [Boston]. We all just go out there and run every day. Everybody knows what happened, but you don't make a big gesture."
Mills showed up because he has a school friend living in Wantagh and Sunday's race fit his schedule. "I wanted to do a half-marathon and this was very good timing," he said. "And it was a nice course. Very good crowd support. They did a great job at every water stop."
And, while the out-of-towner Mills was a new face, plenty of familiar names were among the top runners. Jodie Robertson of Melville, a former champion in both the full and half marathon when she ran under her maiden named of Schoppmann, won the women's half (1:17:18). Her husband, 2011 half champion Aaron Robertson, was second in yesterday's 10K.
Bayport's Billy Holl, twice among the top five in past half-marathoners here, was second in his first full local marathon (2:35:21). At 28, he can remind the track athletes he coaches (and trains with) at Sachem North High that they are "getting beat by an old man."
A true source of running inspiration.