Where others may have quit, Syosset’s Rebecca Margolin kept going, and she’ll have a lifelong memory to show for it. The 24-year old ran most of Sunday’s Long Island Marathon with pulled hamstrings, but still prevailed. Margolin won the 26.2-mile women’s race in 3 hours, 30 minutes, 14.9 seconds, the first marathon victory of her running life, which she said began after high school.
If running is about pain, and victory is about ignoring it, Margolin was a study in both.
"I think I pulled both my hamstrings around Mile 11," Margolin said. "So from Mile 11 on, it was kind of a struggle."
Despite the injury, Margolin said she never considered dropping out.
"I knew I couldn’t quit," she said. "I can’t say there weren’t times when I wanted to, but I knew that wasn’t an option. I wanted to finish, I trained hard for it, I wasn’t going to stop ... It wasn’t an option for me to give up."
The race was on a two-lap course that began and ended in East Meadow’s Eisenhower Park.
It was the first in-person Long Island Marathon since 2019. The pandemic forced the cancellation of the in-person race in 2020, instead giving runners the option of running it "virtually" — that is, completing the distance on their own and reporting their times online to see where they stacked up against other solo runners.
The 2021 edition was moved from the race’s traditional date, the first weekend in May, to Sunday to help ensure that it could be completed safely.
It was Margolin’s second marathon. She ran the New York City Marathon in 2019. The two races couldn’t be more different in atmosphere. The New York City Marathon is a worldwide event with a massive field. On Sunday, Margolin found herself running alone for a lot of the race, the field more spread out and, well, slower than her.
"The environment of that is electric," Margolin said of the New York City Marathon. "This one, it’s you alone. So, you kind of had to focus on what’s in front of you and just keep going forward. It’s a little more mental."
Despite winning the Long Island, Margolin said she prefers the crowds of New York City.
"There’re so many crowds, and it really keeps you going," she said. "You’re not as focused on your run, you’re just focused on the crowd and the atmosphere. Here, there’s nothing really to focus on besides ‘you have this many miles to go.’ "
That’s not to say the Long Island Marathon can’t have its own international flair. France native Guillaume Flamarion won the men’s race in 2:49:58.5. Flamarion said he moved to New York City from Paris three years ago for a career opportunity. He last ran a marathon 15 years ago in Paris, but said he wanted to try another before he "got too old."
Flamarion, 37, said he battled the heat during the early part of the race, with temperatures rising toward 80 degrees as the morning progressed.
"The course was very difficult," Flamarion said. "I started too fast . . . It was very warm."
Flamarion said he enjoyed the atmosphere of the race, with his name being shouted by race announcers and spectators cheering as he crossed the line.
"It was very nice of these people," he said. "The atmosphere in the U.S. is amazing for a marathon."
Bethpage’s Scott Bickard won the men’s half-marathon in 1:11:51.7 and Huntington’s Alyssa Salese won the women’s half marathon in 1:19:31.7.
Salese, who won the full women’s marathon in 2019, used the race as a tuneup for the Boston Marathon, which she’s scheduled to run Oct. 11. Her LI win in 2019 qualified her for Boston, giving Sunday’s half-marathon victory a "coming full-circle" kind of feel.
"Half-marathons are hard," said Salese, 29. "It’s a different animal. It’s a much faster pace. But it was fun to do this because I haven’t raced a half [marathon] since before COVID. My time has progressed so much. It was nice to come out here and see where my fitness is."
Salese said she feels ready for Boston.
"I’m feeling more ready now that I ran this," she said. "We’ll see what happens in a few weeks, but I’m definitely excited. This was a great tuneup."