After waking at sunrise, they drove to Northport Harbor, parked their cars and began walking briskly through its sleepy Main Street, continuing on nearby streets of the village, never taking for granted the captivating scenic views of the harbor and foliage en route.
Walking the last five miles of the annual Great Cow Harbor 10K race — a national race in Northport that draws nearly 5,500 runners and more than 25,000 spectators — 10 residents from Northport, Centerport and Greenlawn practice the route every Wednesday morning.
Calling themselves the Walking Club since 2007, they not only walk part of the route to practice for this year's race on Sept. 21, but also walk at other nearby places Fridays and Sundays. Most members of the group will run the race.
Its founder and leader, Barry Aronowsky, decided to form the club after using the route to train for a hiking trip in Costa Rica. And after spending most his life running marathons, he said it was time to slow down, especially after injuring his neck falling off his bike in 2010.
“After the trip, a bunch of us continued walking, and as mentioned by word-of-mouth the group continued to grow since its inception six years ago,” said Aronowsky, 72, of Greenlawn. “The best part for me is being out in the fresh air to clear my mind.”
Sometimes they leave Northport and take the train to walk across the Triborough and Brooklyn bridges, said Aronowsky, also a member of the Northport and Greater Long Island running clubs.
At 8 a.m. Wednesday, the group made its way from the Town Dock parking lot, up Main Street to Route 25A, turned left onto Waterside Avenue to Eatons Neck Road to Ocean Avenue and down the “infamous” hill that is James Street to Bayview Avenue to the harbor.
A member of the group, Lynn Spivak, met Aronowsky in 2008 at a spin class at Forever Fit Gym in Centerport. From then on, she’s been walking with the group twice a week.
“It’s great exercise when you don’t have time to go to the gym and it gives us an opportunity to socialize,” said Spivak, 65, of Centerport. “It’s mine and my husband Steve’s walking family. It’s allowed us to meet people with like interests outside of our community. I like that.”
Spivak, who retired as director of hearing and speech at Long Island Jewish Center in New Hyde Park two years ago, said she uses the walks to also prepare mentally for the 10K.
Another member of the group, Greg Taha, a Palestinian who has lived in Northport since 1979, has run the Cow Harbor race each year for more than a decade. Taha met Aronowsky at the race in 2000 and they have been running or walking together locally ever since. At one point, they would run 22 miles from Greenlawn to Port Jefferson.
“Barry is tough on us. He wouldn’t let us eat a bagel with cream cheese until we walked or ran at least 10 miles,” said Taha, 68. “He’s the glue that holds us together, in shape and healthy. I’m so much happier keeping active with this group.