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Chao Zhou, Caroline Levesque win inaugural Suffolk Marathon

Chao Zhou, 39, of Manhattan wins the inaugural

Chao Zhou, 39, of Manhattan wins the inaugural Suffolk County Marathon, with Caroline Levesque, 34, of Rhode Island winning the women's event on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015. Credit: Steven Ryan

The babies made 'em do it.

Chao Zhou and Caroline Levesque ran their way right into local history Sunday morning, becoming the first male and female winners of the inaugural Suffolk County Marathon, and they can both thank their kids for the extra boost.

"Last year, I qualified for the Boston Marathon and I was training for it, but then I got pregnant," said Levesque, a 34-year-old who won in 3:12:02, 10 minutes faster than her personal record. "I was looking for a race that I could qualify . . . and I blew away. It's great."

Levesque, an engineer from Rhode Island, had a few theories for her zippy jaunt: The Suffolk course is flatter than some other courses, she noted, and then, there was her exacting training partner -- 11-month-old son Calvin. It was her first win in four tries. "It's helpful because I use the jogging stroller, and it's a lot harder," she said.

Zhou, too, was enjoying his first taste of first. It was his 11th marathon, the Manhattan hedge fund manager said -- a hobby born out of rough early nights with his newborn daughter, Yaoyi, four years ago.

"She was so annoying," he said with a smile. "I couldn't fall asleep. I decided to run so I could have a deep sleep."

Zhou finished in 2:46:50. The biggest obstacle was the heat, he said, not necessarily the mostly flat course, which ran through a number of South Shore downtowns -- Oakdale, Sayville, Bayport-Blue Point, and Patchogue.

"The people are friendly . . . It's a great race," said Zhou, 39. "I was preparing for the New York City Marathon [this November] so it's kind of a warm-up for me."

Marathon mainstay Peter Hawkins was the unsurprising winner of the wheelchair division. He's won 22 Long Island Marathons, and after coming in Sunday at a hair under 2 hours, 13 minutes, said he may have found yet another yearly tradition. Hawkins planned to run Suffolk next year, too.

"It was a good course," the Malverne resident said. " . . . People on the course were great. The people cheering me on were great. I heard my name so much, I possibly couldn't thank everyone. It was really cool."

One obstacle, he said, was hitting into the half-marathoners during the stretch. "It becomes more strategic after that," he said. "When people don't move, I have to make a move, and I have to hope they don't move when I make my move. It's always a gamble."

Anthony Famiglietti of North Carolina won the half marathon for the men in 1:07:35, while Babylon's Pamela O'Sullivan led the women in 1:24:02. In the men's marathon, East Islip's Jerry Pannullo (2:47:39) and Timothy Messen (2:49:07) of New Hampshire rounded out the top three. Kayla Kenda (3:20:57) of Bay Shore and Brooklyn's Laura Gottesdiener (3:24:16) took second and third for the women.

Nearly 3,600 runners participated, including county executive Steve Bellone, who spearheaded the creation of the event. "I thought it was great," said O'Sullivan, who ran at Bay Shore High School. Her sisters, Jessica and Sara, also ran Sunday. "It's nice and flat and fast, and it was nice to have the crowd in certain spots, so you had cheering, and some peace and quiet, too. It's a good mix."

O'Sullivan, 27, couldn't pass up a chance at Suffolk's first race. She didn't expect to win.

"I wanted to be part of the inaugural event," she said. "But I didn't know who was running or who my competition was.

"I had a big smile when I crossed. I'm really happy."

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