The start of the Long Island Marathon. (May 7, 2006)

The start of the Long Island Marathon. (May 7, 2006) Credit: Newsday David L. Pokress

Organizers expect as many as 8,000 participants to run in the weekend's "festival of races" that includes Sunday's 38th annual Long Island Marathon.

By mid-week, almost 800 had signed up for the 26-mile, 385-yard marathon and another 1,200 for the 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) race, with the bulk of runners - more than 4,600 - opting for the 13.1-mile half-marathon, all to be contested Sunday. A few dozen were committed to trying a mile fun run and another 400 to a 5-kilometer race Saturday, when there also will be a short kid's fun run.

Race director Jose Lopez, the deputy commissioner of Nassau County Parks, Recreation and Museums, said an additional 1,500 to 2,000 were expected to submit last-minute entries by the close of the health and fitness expo late tomorrow at the Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale.

All races start at 8 a.m. on Charles Lindbergh Boulevard, adjacent to Nassau Coliseum. Sunday's three races - the 10-kilometer, half-marathon and marathon - will use a common finish line in Eisenhower Park.

For the Sunday events, race officials suggested a handful of preferred locations for spectators: At Post Avenue and Maple Avenue; Jericho Turnpike across from Home Depot; Brush Hollow Road at the Capital One Bank Theatre; Wantagh Parkway and Old Country Road; Wantagh Parkway and Hempstead Turnpike; Wantagh Parkway and Sunrise Highway; Carman Avenue by Capital One Bank.

Though the race populations are overwhelmingly local, 29 states will be represented in this year's events, plus the District of Columbia, Virgin Islands and five other countries.

Nor will the two days belong entirely to the young. Among the more mature runners will be George Devoe, 77, Joseph Pascarella, 77, and Americo Fiore, 80, and Joan Gerold, 61, in the marathon; Ruth Maller, 81, in the half-marathon; and Bert Jablon, 83, Bill Benson, 90, and Emanuel Cappello, 92, in the 5-kilometer run.

Lopez noted that the number of entrants has doubled in the past five years. The marathon, which debuted in 1973 with 289 runners, grew exponentially into the 1980s. The half-marathon race was added in 1984 and the 10-kilometer run in 2004.

Though there is no prize money offered and no participation by professional runners, the event employs the same state-of-the-art scoring operation as the Olympic and New York City marathons. Long Islander David Katz, whose Finish Line Road Race Technicians score the race, announced the introduction this year of a new disposable timing device.

Runners no longer will attach scoring chips to their shoelaces, to be collected at the finish line; the new device is embedded in the runner's bib and will stay there.

Track your family and friends' status on the course this weekend at

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