With participation numbers for the weekend's Long Island Marathon and attendant "festival of races" expected to be at a 15-year high, the already unscientific art of predicting winners is further clouded. But enough familiar names are on the preregistration lists that Terry Bisogno, the runner/race promoter whose meticulous work as the event's race announcer affords him special insight, can foresee some of the possibilities in Sunday's full and half marathon events.
Races at a mile and 5 kilometers will be held Saturday before Sunday's 10-kilometer, half marathon and featured marathon, the anchor 26-mile, 385-yard challenge being run for a 39th time. More than 7,400 had preregistered for the five races, including more than 800 in the marathon.
Here is what Bisogno, who correctly fingered last year's marathon and half-marathon winners, expects:
In the marathon, two-time winner Dan McGrath, 28, of Lynbrook is nursing some minor injuries and had not yet entered as of Friday, but McGrath's 32-year-old brother Shaun is a contender. It was Shaun who talked Dan into running the race as a break from Dan's law studies in 2008, the first time Dan won. Shaun has twice finished in the top 10 -- fifth in '08 and eighth last year.
Julio Sauce of Brooklyn, the '05 and '07 winner, told Bisogno he was planning to run the marathon again this year. Thomas Glenn of Levittown and Stephen Uresk of Greenlawn are two strong multidistance racers expected to be near the front. Two shorter-distance racers stepping up to the marathon are Gavin Goldstein of New York City and 18-year-old Nick Philippazzo of Wantagh.
In the women's marathon, defending champion Lilia Britez of the Bronx and four-time winner Jessica Ramsay (formerly Allen) are not entered, but the runners-up the past two years -- Jody Kartes-Heino of East Quogue and Noni Accetturi of Port Washington -- are. They could be challenged by Elaine Gilmartin-Tardo of Greenlawn, who was fifth last year; Barbara Cronin-Stagnari of Mineola, sixth last year, and first-time marathoner Cristin Guille of Long Beach. Karen Greco of Greenlawn, fourth in the half-marathon last year, is entered in the marathon but has had sinus problems recently.
In the men's half-marathon, defending champion Michael Nehr of West Babylon returns, as does the 2006 winner, Chris Mammone of Merrick. Bisogno also expects Whitestone's Keith Forlenza, fourth last year; Aaron Robertson of Altamont, N.Y., and Bellmore's Mark Carbone among the leaders and will keep his eye on 59-year-old Chris Weber of Sayville, 13th last year.
Weber's daughter, Lyndsey Cunningham of Babylon, is a three-time winner in the women's half and set the course record in 2008, setting up a possible duel with Levittown's Jodie Schoppmann, who rewrote the record in winning last year.