For the first time in its history the Great Cow Harbor 10k Run will be the race to crown the national 10K champion for USA Track & Field when runners step off Sept. 17 in Northport.
A representative for the Indianapolis-based national governing body for track and field, long-distance running and race-walking said it was a natural fit to designate the Cow Harbor run, Long Island’s largest road race, as a first-time host.
“It’s a great organization and it was a kind of a no brainer for us to approach them and ask them if they wanted to host it,” said Darren De Reuck, a volunteer liaison with USATF and the chairperson for its Long Distance Running for Women’s championships. He worked with Will Fodor, executive board member of the Cow Harbor 10k run, to bring the race to Northport.
De Reuck said over the years he has witnessed the organization’s commitment and treatment of the athletes and their families.
Now just days away from the 45th race, organizers are ready to set their mark.
“It is a very distinctive honor to be a national championship race,” Fodor said. “We hope to have it again, not a one and done, but it really comes down to four decades of building this race.”
The race was founded in 1977 by John Rakucewicz. The event grew ever popular each year. So Northport resident Chris Pitfick said his dad, John Pitfick, instituted a staggered start to the race to ensure the safety for the runners and for them to have their best times.
“So whether you’re the fastest person in North America or just somebody who trained and was hoping to make it in an hour, you would get the best result,” Pitfick said.
The staggered start entails 14 waves of runners that start off at one minute intervals, he said.
His uncle, Eric, took over after John died and he, his brother Matt and Eric’s children Mike, Dave and Karen Vale carry on the tradition of overseeing the start times.
The event is sold out, with just over 5,000 runners signed up to run the 6.2 mile course.
“We‘re very proud of this race,” said Rich Boziwick, executive director of nonprofit The Great Cow Harbor 10k Run Inc. “It’s always been a labor of love for all of us that work on this race and each year we all push to improve the race in any way we can.”
He said it's only because the race has been supported over the years by the entire Northport community and is an enduring tribute to its hometown sensibility.
The weekend is a celebration for the village with Sunday being Cow Harbor Day, held in commemoration of the origination of the village, that used to be known as Cow Harbor, Mayor Donna Koch said. As with other businesses in the area, the name of the race pays homage to the farmers who once upon a time allowed their cows to graze by the harbor's edge.
“It’s an exciting weekend to be the mayor,” she said. “I hope the runners have a wonderful, safe run with personal best records."
Get ready to Run
10K race details:
Saturday, Sept. 17 at 8:30 a.m. The event is sold out, registration has ended
— Village of Northport
— 5,000+ Participants
— Largest Long Island Road Race
The race has staggered start times. Runners are grouped according to predicted finish times.
$18,500 in prize money will be awarded in both the men's and women's categories.