Brandon Abasolo, of Long Beach, won the men's half-marathon event...

Brandon Abasolo, of Long Beach, won the men's half-marathon event in the Long Island Half Marathon on May 4, 2014. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan



Early Sunday morning, it became clear to Aaron Robertson, 36, that there would be no one left to chase. The Melville resident was leading the 10K after the second mile, but still needed something to chase.

"I just kept pretending I was racing the biker up ahead," he said.

When he finished a winner in 34 minutes, 33 seconds, it represented the last possible stage of improvement. The aspiring teacher finished second in the same race last year.

"It was a nice feeling," he said of finally winning it. "Winning is always a possibility. You never know who's going to show up, but I'm usually pretty fit. I knew it was going to be a good race either way."

While Robertson didn't have any other racer to battle down the stretch, he did have to deal with occasionally strong headwinds. And those gusts strengthened.

"When we hit the [Eisenhower Park] golf course, it was the worst," he said.

Robertson currently works at Bob and Fred's Collision in Bethpage.


Long Beach

It started out as a whim and ended up a victory. Brandon Abasolo, 23, of Long Beach decided to run the half marathon last week. Sunday, Abasolo crossed the finish line first in one hour, 13 minutes, 29 seconds.

"I just wanted to push myself and see what kind of shape I'm in," Abasolo said. "I haven't run a race since January. I wanted to keep my competitive drive alive. I didn't know what to expect coming into the race. I was hoping not to slow down too much in the second half."

After looking at last year's times, Abasolo wasn't sure that he'd be able to pull out a win.

"I didn't know if I was in that kind of shape," he said.

But, he quickly found out that he was. Abasolo credited his victory to patience over the first three miles.

"It was kind of windy," he said. "I let a pack of three go ahead and dictate the pace. Then I made a move."

While the wind may have been strong, it was nothing the 2009 Long Beach High School graduate hadn't run in before.

"I'm used to running against the wind all the time," he said. "It's become second nature."

Abasolo works for CleanEdison, a renewable energy company in New York City.



Being a veteran of the 5K distance, Katie McGrath, 29, a physical trainer and lifeguard, knew that her training had to increase if she was going to improve on her fifth place finish in last year's half marathon.

"I needed to do more mileage," she said. "I'd go out hard for five or six miles and then just die. I'd be finishing at a high six minute pace, close to seven. I increased mileage so I could finish strong in the second half."

McGrath worked up to running 80 miles a week by February before developing tendinitis in her foot. She took March off and has been averaging 60 miles a week since.

After running a four-mile race in East Islip, she felt prepared for the big show.

"I did it last year the weekend before and had a great race," McGrath said. "This year, I ran it 10 seconds faster, so I knew that I had it in me to run faster today."



Bracht, 16, may run the two- mile when he straps on the Smithtown East jersey during the week, but a half marathon like he ran Sunday is an entirely different animal.

"I do a lot of speed and distance work," Bracht said. "I do my own distance and weight training. I'm trying to prepare for the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. in the fall. So, I'm working my way up there."

Bract, a junior, completed the half marathon in one hour, 33 minutes -- a personal best. He said that the 11th mile was the toughest part.

"It's uphill, but you have to fight through it and make it to the end," he said. "It was windy out there, but I used the people around me and that definitely helped. They were working hard, so I had to work hard too."

It was Bracht's first half marathon.

"It was so cool with all the crowds," he said. "The starting line was awesome. I was pretty pumped."


Stony Brook

There isn't any quit in Greg Durso, 29, a credit analyst from Stony Brook. So, when a sledding accident in Vermont rendered him paralyzed five years ago, he didn't give up, he just adapted.

"I was always an athlete and wanted to get back into it," he said. "I thought this was the best way to do it."

He quickly took to wheelchair racing and is now at the top of that game. Durso finished the LI marathon in his "racer" in two hours, 27 minutes, 58 seconds. This was his fourth year racing and first LI marathon.

"All the athletes were great," he said. "It was a good race. It was fun. I had a blast doing it."

Durso said the race's last few miles were a test in resilience.

"It was all about digging deep and pushing it," he said. "You have to constantly move your arms. It's all about arms, arms, arms!"


Shoreham - Wading River

Marie Cordaro is new to the marathon game, and she loves it. Cordaro, 24, a credit analyst from Shoreham-Wading River, finished in three hours, 55 minutes, and 35 seconds.

Cordaro made her marathon debut at the New York City Marathon in November and ran another one in San Juan, Puerto Rico last month.

After graduating from Binghamton in 2012, the former lacrosse player felt she needed an athletic outlet. Running was the perfect fix.

"Last year, I ran the LI half marathon," she said. "That was my first race. The marathon is much more mental. You have to drive for it. The half is good and you can run it fast. But, it's a very different mindset."

She believes she is a better runner now because of the increased diversity of her training.

"I was just doing long runs in the beginning," she said. "I started doing speed work, such as sprinting and jogging, and that really made a difference."

Cordaro said she hits "the wall" around the 14th mile.

"The last six miles are treacherous," she said. "But, today was good weather. It wasn't too hot or too cold. I knew I was on pace to reach my goal."


East Meadow

It wasn't easy to miss the sign plastered across the front and back of Nestor Barrezueta's shirt. It read "Walk! Beat PD."

And that's precisely what Barrezueta, 79, did. The former General Motors accountant was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease 15 years ago and still walks the LI half-marathon.

"I tell everyone that has this disease, walk, walk, walk," the East Meadow resident said. "That's my salvation. I'm not the type that's going to go home, sit down, and do nothing."

Barrezueta, who emigrated from Ecuador 51 years ago, has done the LI half-marathon 15 times and 5 full marathons

"Every year it gets harder," he said.

But, he's not stopping. Barrezueta wants to walk the New York City Marathon in November to celebrate his 80th birthday, which is in February.



Runs are always more fun when you're with a friend. That's why Michaela McEllatton, a 16-year old junior at Half Hollow Hills West, decided to run the half-marathon with her friend Tara Sanders.

Sanders, 20, from Wading River has Down syndrome and runs with Rolling Thunder, a running program for children with special needs. McEllatton has volunteered there for the last six years.

"I decided I would run with her to keep her company," McEllatton said. "It was windy, but very nice. We worked together and tried our best to stay warm and get across the finish line safely."

The two were running to support "Friends of Karen," a charity that provides support to families of children with life-threatening diseases. Sanders was diagnosed with Lukemia as a child, but has been cancer free for 12 years.

Top Stories