Every morning, Bert Jablon starts his day eating a simple breakfast.
“I like to eat Rice Krispies and skim milk with a banana for potassium,” said Jablon, 85, of Syosset. “It’s the breakfast of champions.”
Running twice a week and sticking to his “champion” breakfast certainly kept him steady on his feet Sunday during the 20th annual Rob’s 5K Cross Country Run held at the Stillwell Woods Town Park in Syosset.
“I have been running for the past 30 years,” said Jablon, who finished the race in 39 minutes. “I love to run.”
Rob’s 5K Run is sponsored by LI Blood Services, a division of the New York Blood Center, in memory of Oyster Bay’s Robert Lauterborn, a longtime runner and member of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Road Runner’s Club who had an epileptic seizure and died at age 28.
This year’s race which drew more than 500 runners was designed for individuals to enjoy the trail at Stillwell Park.
“We wanted to provide a beautiful place for people to run and have a good time,” said Sue Fitzpatrick, co-director for Rob’s Run.
Michael Polanski, president of the Greater Long Island Running Club, agreed.
“Stillwell Woods Park is one of Long Island’s hidden treasures,” said Polanski. “Most people don’t know it’s here except for runners and mountain bikers. This race offers the nicest cross country run on Long Island.”
Robert’s mother, Frances Lauterborn, 85, of East Meadow, was touched by the outpouring of support for her son.
“It’s an honor that they honor my son Robbie. He was a very likable person. He enjoyed running so much. He always looked forward to it,” said Lauterborn, “Every year, so many runners show up. They have been here during horrible rainstorms and bad weather. It means so much to our family.”
Rob’s brothers Thomas, 55, of Ronkonkoma, and Michael, 51, of Farmingdale, were equally moved by the kindness from the community.
“It’s amazing to see all these people come every year in my brother’s memory,” said Thomas.
The race also served as an opportunity to bring awareness to the importance of blood donations.
“Donating blood is one of the best things a person can do. One blood donation can save three lives,” said Harvey Schaffler, executive director of donor marketing for the New York Blood Center. “Today, we are signing people up to make donations.”
With Thomas and Michael Lauterborn holding the finish line banner, Billy Holl, 26,of Bayport finished in first place with a time of 16:02.
“It’s freezing out here but I am happy that I did it,” said Holl, who admitted the frigid temperatures made the race quite challenging. “This is my first time placing first. I ran this race a few years ago.”
Fiona Comer, 12, of Floral Park, agreed that the weather made the run more difficult.
“It was tough,” said Comer. “The 2-mile mark was the hardest because of the cold.”
Having endured five days without power in his house due to superstorm Sandy, for Benjamin Beavers, 39, of Amityville, the race served as a great way to relax his mind.
“Running is great for the mind and body,” he said.