All smoke, no mirrors: The marathon magician made the competition disappear.
Oz Pearlman, a New York City-based magician and mentalist, led a pack of about 960 runners to win the Long Island Marathon on a sun-soaked day Sunday-- a year after coming in second place in the race and two weeks after competing in the Boston Marathon.
Pearlman, 32, who crossed the finish line at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow in 2 hours, 25 minutes, 25 seconds, beat out second-place finisher Jerry Pannullo by more than 20 minutes. Pannullo, 45, of East Islip, came in at 2:46:51 and Brooklyn's Viktor Chistyakov, 36, was third at 2:53:22.
It's no wonder the gap was so big between Pearlman and the rest of the pack -- at times, this magician seemed to all but saw the course in half. He's won about 15 marathons since he first started competing in 2004, he said, and halfway through this one, he was close to the leaders of those running the half marathon.
"I just went fast," he said. "[It was] hot, hot. Definitely the heat was a factor."
Pearlman said his first marathon was the Philadelphia Marathon. He ran it in a little over 3:30:00 and it made him miserable, he said. So he did it again.
"It was a brutal experience -- there was some crying, some walking," he said. "There was no crying today . . . I was like, a glutton for punishment. I said, I'm doing another one and so it began. It's an addiction."
This passion took him and his fellow runners from the starting point on Charles Lindbergh Boulevard, past Mitchel Athletic Complex and through the grueling stretch up Wantagh Parkway.
Race director Jason Lipset estimated that, including half marathoners and 10K runners, close to 6,000 runners participated overall.
Kelly Gillen, 32, of Manhattan, led the women in 3:03:57. A Manhasset native who recently received her doctorate in breast cancer research from Cornell University, she said she has been running in and around Eisenhower Park for years. Gillen ran for Manhasset Middle School before moving to Westchester and her first races were in this park, she said.
"I was in fourth place at Mile 12 and I just tried to find the next girl in front of me and pass her, and [then] the next," said Gillen, who also won in 2013. "I had family at different points in the course and they surprised me and that gave me a little extra energy . . . I thought they'd only be at the finish line."
Gillen was followed by Jessica Ramsay, 37, of Hampton Bays, who finished in 3:08:57. Sayville's Nadine Moors was third in 3:12:35.
Ramsay, an art teacher in the Sachem school district, ran her first marathon since having her youngest daughter in 2010.
"I've been running a lot with the stroller," she said. "It was nice to just go out today and run without a stroller."
Both Pearlman and Ramsay have competed in more marathons than they can remember, they said.
And though there are few things that beat the high of running through the finish line, a little flair is nice, too. That last counts double when, like Pearlman, you're a professional showman.
When he crossed the final threshold, he held his hands over his head in the manner common to marathon winners everywhere . . . except one hand suddenly clutched a fanned deck of cards.
Were they up his sleeve? (Well, no; Pearlman ran shirtless.) So where did they come from, anyway?
"Oh, I can't tell you," he said, grinning. "It's a trade secret."