WINNER IN ANY LANGUAGE
Petra Fasungova kept apologizing for her halting English. From Prievidza in central Slovakia, she had been in the United States for only 10 days, visiting her boyfriend, who is on an architectural internship. No need to translate this, though: Fasungova, 20, sailed to victory Sunday in the women's 10-kilometer portion of the weekend "Festival of Races" tied to the Long Island Marathon.
Fasungova ran 38:46. She has been racing for three years, an activity that grew out of rehabilitating three surgically repaired knees she injured playing soccer. She was listed on the race entry form as being from Lynbrook, but that's just where she was staying temporarily. She was going back to Slovakia Monday. With her winner's trophy.
FROM ETHIOPIA TO LI
Men's 10-kilometer winner Demesse Cefera also added international flavor to an event that historically has been overwhelmingly populated by Long Islanders and their close neighbors.
Cefera, 29, is staying in New York City. But Alem Kahsay, who translated for Cefera, said Cefera is from Ethiopia. Cefera ran for the "Sikhs In America" team and, with a winning time of 32:34, edged defending Long Island 10k champion Angel Confesor, 26, who works as a waiter in Brooklyn.
Running for him, Confesor said, "is just for fun. But sometimes it's not fun. [Cefera] went -- he was just too fast."
CUNNINGHAM FAST ENOUGH
Babylon's Lyndsey Cunningham, 28, didn't reclaim the half-marathon course record she set two years ago (and broken last year by Levittown's Jodie Schoppmann, who won the full marathon Sunday). And she couldn't quite catch her father, veteran road racer Chris Webber, on the Nassau County roads. But she won the Long Island women's half for a fourth time, in 1:22:23.
Webber, 59, ran 1:19:50 and admitted that his daughter is fully capable of keeping up with him. A Sayville High graduate, Cunningham was using Sunday's race as preparation for her first marathon in Burlington, Vt., at the end of this month and was fully satisfied to win Sunday.
ROBERTSON'S FORMULA: TRACK FAST PACE
What made Aaron Robertson's victory in the men's half-marathon "go so fast," he said, was the busy doings in a competitive lead pack that included defending champion Michael Nehr of West Babylon, 2006 winner Chris Mammone of Merrick, October's Hamptons half-marathon champ John Honercamp of New York City, Whitestone's Keith Forlenza, North Bellmore's Christian Fogarazzo and Bayport's Billy Holl, who was second in last year's Long Island half-marathon.
"I just settled in the pack," said Robertson, 33, from upstate Altamont. "Chris Mammone did all the work, breaking the wind in the lead."
Robertson ran 1:10:05; Mammone, 27, 1:10:21; Nehr, 31, 1:10:46; Forlenza, 23, 1:11:53; Honerkamp, 35, 1:12:24; Fogarazzo, 35, 1:13:01, and Holl, 25, 1:13:24.