Rating the LI Festival of Races contenders
A particular branch of the human species -- Homo currimus (a bad Latin translation for Running People) -- is thoroughly familiar this time of year around Eisenhower Park.
Furthermore, through the skilled scouting of race announcer Terry Bisogno, a keen observer of the local running scene, it is possible to pick out some well-known names and championship favorites for the weekend's Long Island Festival of Races -- a mile and 5-kilometer Saturday and marathon, half marathon and 10-kilometer Sunday.
So, watch for:
Men's marathon. Massapequa Park's Chris Mammone, a top-five finisher in the last two Long Island half marathons, is attempting his first full marathon and can be considered a co-favorite alongside Bayport's Billy Holl. Holl, whose only previous marathon was in New York City in 2011, has finished among the LI half leaders for years.
Also, 40-year-old Boyd Carrington of Amityville is coming off a Bucks County Marathon victory in November. And Felipe Vergara, the 2007 and 2009 champion, will try again at 48. George Worth of Islip and Ned Daily of Garden City Park appear to be the best in the plus-50 category.
Women's marathon. East Quogue's Tara Farrell, winner of 17 shorter races on the Island this year, appears ready to win in her fourth attempt at the 26-mile, 385-yard distance, though she could face a strong challenge from West Islip's Tara Wilson, a former half marathon runner-up. Another East Quogue runner, Jodi Kartes-Heino, and Jennifer Barrett of Amston, Conn., third last year, might have a chance at the title.
Men's half marathon. Watch for 20-year-old Nick Filippazzo of Wantagh, who won last year's half and was fourth in the full marathon as an 18-year-old in 2011. Babylon's Michael Nehr, the 2010 champ; Shawn Pollard of Port Jefferson Station, Travis Tate of East Northport and Ryan Soltan of Sayville also are among the contenders.
Women's half. Melville's Jodi Schoppmann, who set course records in winning the 2010 half (1:17:15) and 2011 full marathon (2:42:54), returns under her married name of Jodi Robertson as one of many title threats. Others are recent Plattsburgh State grad Stefanie Braun of Dix Hills; Heather Williams of Centerport, who set the 10k record last year; Oakdale's Katie McGrath and Huntington's Lindsey Block, who won the full marathon last year.
Men's 10k. The best appear to be Dan Gargaro of Bay Shore, Peter Francis of Jackson Heights and maybe Aaron Robertson, husband of women's champ Jodi and himself the 2011 half-marathon champ, if Robertson decides to run.
Women's 10k. Shari Klarfeld of Plainview, third in last year's 10K, has won eight road races this year.