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Thousands of runners flood Northport for Great Cow Harbor 10K

Chris Gommlich of Northport, aka The Running Suit

Chris Gommlich of Northport, aka The Running Suit Guy, takes part in the Great Cow Harbor 10K in Northport on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. His suit is covered in ads paid for by advertisers and businesses. Credit: Ed Betz

About 5,000 runners came together Saturday to compete in the annual Great Cow Harbor 10K in Northport.

Some came to put all their training to the test, others to memorialize friends and family.

A group of runners stood near the start, wearing bright blue "Team Linda" T-shirts with a sunflower in the middle.

Marc Segal said Linda Goodman, a friend's mother, died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 58 in September 2008; and they have run each year since to raise awareness and money for research.

Goodman's daughter, Rachel Goodman, 35, who was sidelined by injury this year, cheered on the team. "It was definitely sad not to be participating, but in some ways it was more rewarding being on the sidelines," she said, "you can really see how much of difference you make when you cheer runners on."

Goodman, who lives in Brooklyn, said that spirit of motivation and encouragement was embodied by her mother, who was an elementary school counselor in the Northport-East Northport district. The group has raised more than $250,000 for pancreatic cancer research since they started running, she said.

Michael Howley, 35, of West Islip, grew up in Northport like many of the team members and ran the first race after Linda Goodman died. "The first one was very emotional; now it's just a nice, happy day to celebrate us being there for Rachel," Howley said.

Runners flooded Laurel Avenue in Northport early Saturday -- the site of the starting line. They were dressed in every color, some in costumes -- including as cows -- and some in matching shirts, for a race run to support Special Olympics, Veterans Affairs and the local food pantry.

Amyee St. Pierre, 43, was in the Hauppauge Sirens running group. They all wore bright pink tank tops, with the Starbucks logo in the center.

St. Pierre trained the six women for months, running every Sunday, including up steep hills, to be ready for the Cow Harbor course. After each run, they treated themselves to Starbucks.

Denise Murphy, one of the Sirens, was running her first organized race Saturday. She started training with the group in April. "I feel great, nervous, but excited," said Murphy, 47.

Another group wore matching T-shirts with the name of Steve Tursellino, who was a first responder on Sept. 11, 2001. Those in the group had all worked with Tursellino, who was a Hauppauge resident, as police officers at the Port Authority. Tursellino died last September of 9/11-related lung cancer, according to a Port Authority official.

Brian Cooney, 40, of Oakdale, said the nine-member group was running to honor their friend and colleague because "he used to run it all the time. We're here to keep that tradition going," he said.

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