Politics aside, Long Island Sunday indeed was its own state - a province of mobile, energetic citizens heavily taxed by heat but not much bothered by it, as more than 6,000 folks willingly paid their dues in the annual "festival of races."
In the day's centerpiece event, the 38th Long Island Marathon, Lynbrook's Dan McGrath won his second men's title (2 hours, 29 minutes, 44 seconds) and Lilia Britez, a late entry from the Bronx by way of her native Paraguay, earned the women's trophy (3:20:21).
West Babylon's Michael Nehr (1:12:35) and Levittown's Jodie Schoppmann (1:17:15) finished first in the men's and women's 13.1-mile half marathons, and the 10-kilometer champs were Angel Confesor of Brooklyn (34:00) and Heather Williams of Centerport (38:19). Peter Hawkins of Malverne, the only wheelchair racer, took home his 16th first-place Long Island trophy.
Behind them came waves and waves of runners, washing out onto Nassau County's roads, though a few score were not able to complete their appointed rounds, forced by the weather and race officials' wise decision to truncate the distance for the slowest participants.
Because of temperatures in the 80s and high humidity, a dangerous combination for long-distance runners not in tip-top shape, a prerace edict was invoked, that any entrant in the 26-mile, 385-yard marathon who had not reached the 10-mile mark in 2:18 - a marathon pace of 6 hours - would be diverted onto the half-marathon course.
Many other runners acted on their own to limit workloads, dropping down from the race they had entered - half-marathoners chosing to run the 10k and marathoners adjusting to the half-marathon. Those on-the-move changes created a fair amount of temporary havoc for David Katz, the Finish Line Road Race Technicians' chief whose sophisticated computer system was scoring the races.
Dr. Edward Fryman, who coordinated the massive volunteer medical effort, said that 20 runners were taken to the hospital with dehydration but that, given the weather, the number of exhausted runners was not unusually high. Fryman had more than 60 volunteers monitoring the runners, and local high school track and cross country teams manned water stations along the route. There was a station every 11/2 miles during the first 13 miles and, for the full marathoners, every mile the rest of the way.
McGrath, now a 27-year-old lawyer who won the 2008 Long Island Marathon when his older brother Shaun suggested he run it as a break from law school studies at Notre Dame, said he needed no excuse to try it again. "You never need an excuse to run a marathon," he said.
Allowing that it was "a tough day," McGrath nevertheless reasoned that it was "tough for everybody. When I started feeling a little sorry for myself at 13 [miles], I thought about how everyone else must be feeling sorry for themselves." He led from the 9-mile mark to the finish.
With four-time women's marathon champion Jessica Allen Ramsay skipping this year's race - she is six months pregnant - Britez, 28, took the lead at 22 miles and hung on to win. Britez works at a deli and as a housekeeper, according to her coach, Horacio Ruiz, an auto collision worker in Astoria who spotted Britez running in the streets two years ago. "I said, 'You want to run?' " Riuz said.
Doesn't everybody in the state of Long Island?