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Lake Ronkonkoma race honors Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy

More than 2,200 runners ran four miles around

More than 2,200 runners ran four miles around Lake Ronkonkoma on Saturday, June 25, 2016, to raise funds for several causes in the Run Around the Lake in honor of Lt. Michael P. Murphy, who died in Afghanistan in 2005. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Lake Ronkonkoma is a fitting place to remember Lt. Michael Murphy.

As a teenager, he and his friends watched over the water as lifeguards. Later, as he prepared to join the Navy SEALs, he trained by swimming from one shore to the other and back.

On Saturday, more than 2,200 people ran four miles around the lake to honor Murphy, who died on a 2005 mission in the mountains of Afghanistan. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2007.

“Every year we get perfect weather,” said Murphy’s father, Daniel Murphy, as he watched the first runners cross the finish line. “Michael is always looking out for us.”

It was the fifth year the Ronkonkoma Rotary Club has hosted the annual Run Around the Lake in honor of Murphy, a Patchogue native whose last mission was memorialized in the 2013 movie “Lone Survivor.”

Members of the military crossed the finish line wearing fatigues and packs. Some runners carried American flags the length of the course.

“It’s beautiful and it’s inspiring because of what the event is for,” said Dominick Logiudice, 59, of Patchogue, who has run the race several times. “Especially when you see all the military people, it really puts a lot of things in perspective.”

Among the participants was a group of friends who knew Murphy during his years at Penn State, some traveling from as far as Atlanta.

And there was Heather Blasi, who had been engaged to Murphy. He died months before their planned wedding in November 2005.

“Out of all the events and things that have been done for him, I think this is something that he would enjoy,” said Blasi, of Huntington, who met Murphy when they were teenagers in 1996.

Many runners said they were simply drawn to one of Long Island’s most popular races, on a course with generous views of Lake Ronkonkoma in summer.

“It was really hot. Really hot. But it’s a nice course,” said Rebecca Kittrell, 43, of Long Beach, a first-time participant. “I was really off my routine this morning, so I was a little slow, but I would definitely do it again. I loved all the military.”

Proceeds from the race went to the Lt. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation, the Lone Survivor Foundation, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, the Navy SEAL Foundation and the Rotary Foundation.

“Michael, if anything, was like a team player,” said his father, 69, of Wading River. “And so, it’s so important that this isn’t just about Michael. It’s really about our fallen heroes.”

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