Even before the final runner in Sunday’s Suffolk County Marathon runs crossed the finish line in Patchogue, people had begun to celebrate.
People snapped photos, vendors gave away free food and some competitors received free massages.
The FreedomFest: Taste of Long Island Festival began at 9 a.m., shortly after the first 5K runners finished and just before the first half-marathoners finished.
It featured three stages of live music and included more than 40 vendors highlighting local craft breweries, award-winning wines, and local food and produce.
But the day was for the runners. For some, the marathon was introspective. For others it was a way to help veterans; proceeds from the marathon go toward expanding veterans’ services in Suffolk County.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who ran the marathon and finished in 4:39:55, thanked veterans in a recorded message for their service.
“I ran for the veterans,” said Patchogue resident Jenetta Morris, who explained some of her family members served in Vietnam.
Port Jefferson resident Jocelyn Corbitt, 48, said, “Veterans give their lives for us.”
Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri told the competitors, “You ran hard for those who work harder for us.”
McKenna Mazeski, 11, of Aurora, Colorado, said she ran because, “I like winning prizes.” She was first to cross the finish line in the women’s 5K.
Standing alongside her mom. She described her win as “cool.”
In all, more than 2,700 people ran in the marathon, half-marathon and 5K run, organizers said.
All three races began and ended in downtown Patchogue. But the marathon course traveled through numerous other South Shore downtowns, including Blue Point, Bayport, Sayville, Oakdale and Great River.
The marathon course turned around in Heckscher State Park before entering the Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Great River. The half-marathon turned around on the Oakdale campus of St. John’s University.
After turning around in their respective locations, both the full and half-marathons traveled back east on Montauk Highway to their starting points in Patchogue.
The 5K, new this year, traveled on Montauk Highway to Blue Point before turning around.
Both the men’s and women’s marathon winners had different reactions to Sunday’s temperate climate.
Pam O’Sullivan, 29, who finished first among female runners, said the warmth gave her extra strength. “The weather was perfect. I like it nice and quiet,” said the Bay Shore High graduate who now lives in Nashua, New Hampshire.
But Mark Maggi 32, a federal economist who grew up in West Sayville but now lives in Cohasset, Massachusetts, said he had to battle the uncharacteristic October heat through much of the race.
“It got warm the last five or 10 miles,” he said. “It got humid [at] the arboretum and on Montauk Highway, once you got out of St. John’s . . . It was getting hotter by the minute. The last half-hour or 45 minutes, it was pretty warm for Oct. 30.”
With Jordan Lauterbach