Despite rain in the forecast for the Long Island Marathon race weekend, officials hope to exceed last year’s total of participants and plan to deploy extensive security measures to ensure the safety of racers and spectators, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said Friday morning during a news conference at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale.
The festivities, which kicked off Friday with a Sports and Fitness Expo at Mitchel, attracted about 8,800 runners last year. About 6,500 already have registered this year, and that number is expected to increase with last-minute registrants, Mangano said. Participants have until Saturday to sign up.
“It not only attracts our residents but people from afar come to participate, and it’s a very competitive, exciting race,” he said. “We hope to exceed [8,800 participants] this year. We have our fingers crossed on the weather, though.”
Though there’s no rain in the forecast for Saturday, light rain is expected Sunday morning when the 10K runners, half marathoners and marathoners take off from Charles Lindbergh Boulevard at 8 a.m. All runners finish their courses in Eisenhower Park. Saturday’s races are the 5K, which begins at 8:30 a.m., the 1-mile run, which starts at 8 a.m., and the Kids’ Fun Run, which kicks off at 10:30 and is open and free to children from ages 1-11. The 5K and mile races begin at Lindbergh Boulevard and conclude inside Mitchel Athletic Complex; the fun run will be on the track at Mitchel.
Drivers around the area should expect extensive road closures, including most of Lindbergh Boulevard and parts of Merrick Avenue and Old Country Road. Meadowbrook Parkway ramps leading to and from Lindbergh Boulevard also will be inaccessible. Wantagh Parkway will be shut down for the marathon from 7:50 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Nassau County Police Chief Steve Skrynecki said spectators will be allowed to bring umbrellas but should leave all backpacks and bags at home, part of an extensive security strategy. Small purses are permitted, he said.
“You will see a significant amount of police resources in and around the race,” he said. “Even though we have a big police presence, even though we are very prepared, you never know what can happen, and we always ask that the public be on guard and maintain vigilance, and if you see something unusual — if you see a package laying around that looks like it shouldn’t be there, if you see somebody acting a little strangely — please call 911 immediately. We have plenty of resources to respond to that particular item or particular person, check it out and make sure that everybody is safe.”
All packages or bags found on race grounds will be thrown out or destroyed, the county announced, adding that runners should not stash items along the route.
The Nassau County Police Department will be teaming up with New York State Police, and uniformed and plainclothes officers will be on site, Skrynecki said. SWAT teams will be available, and there also will be a presence in the air. K-9 units also will be deployed.
Said Skrynecki, “We’ll be available to monitor the entire race, all the way through from start to finish.”
Long IslandMarathon facts
Here’s some need-to-know information for the 43rd Annual Long Island Marathon race weekend:
The 1-mile and at 5K races will begin at Charles Lindbergh Boulevard. The 1-mile kicks off at 8 a.m., while the 5K starts at 8:30 p.m. The Kids’ Fun Run will be at 10:30 a.m. on the Mitchel Athletic Complex track in Uniondale. The fun run does not require prior registration and is free and open to kids age 1-11.
The Long Island marathon, half marathon and 10K all begin at 8 a.m. on Lindbergh Boulevard. All races end inside Eisenhower Park.
Tips for runners:
Dr. Thomas Pappas, a cardiologist for St. Francis Hospital’s heart center, said there are four main keys to a healthy and successful race. (1) When you train, make sure you log enough miles in your particular race so your body is ready for the length or difficulty of the course. (2) Hydrate and maintain hydration during and after the race. (3) Don’t try to do too much, too soon. Run at your own pace. (4) Stretch plenty before the race. “And when you’re done, stretch some more,” he said.