There was a strong, chilly, cantankerous wind blowing throughout the Long Island Marathon Sunday. Fat chance that would dissuade the 1,100 runners committed to the 26-mile, 385-yard race. (Or the 4,500 who took on the half-marathon and 1,800 who chose the 10-kilometer run.)
These are people who just plowed through a long winter of accumulating snow and polar vortexes, barely missing a beat in their daily locomotion.
"I just wore a lot of layers" through the winter, said men's marathon champ William Schefer of Old Brookville. "I'm not a treadmill guy. So, you know, just run through it."
Schefer, 23, who also lives in the warmth of Hawaii, finished in 2:31:25 -- his debut marathon -- helped a great deal by his decision, after leading for 16 miles, to let Oz Pearlman, the eventual runner-up, buck the stiff breezes most of the last 10 miles.
"I just drafted on him," Schefer said. "I was dying."
Pearlman, a 31-year-old professional magician from Manhattan, didn't finally fall behind Schefer until the last mile. Home in 2:32:05, Pearlman declined any finish-line magic -- "A pillow," he suggested he might pull from his ear for a bit of rest -- and there was no more wizardry to his cold-weather training than anyone else.
"I can't stand a treadmill," Pearlman said. "I trained outdoors all the time, looked like an urban Ninja [under layers of clothing]. Ski mask, gloves, hat. I walked into the bank one day to cash a check and looked like I was about to rob the place. I'd just run 22 miles."
Boyd Carrington, 41, of Amityville was third, in 2:36:39. "The crosswinds were pretty bad," he said. But nothing compared to the winter's meteorological challenges. He had one week of 94 training miles in the snow and ice, "but the next week, I only got in 18 miles. At one point, I was running in the holes I had made in the ice and snow [with his footsteps] the day before."
Aaron Robertson, 36, of Melville, who won the 10k (34:33) may be the rare soul who said he looked forward to his winter runs. He's originally from Albany and lived for a while in Plattsburgh, and actually trained in snowshoes -- those big, floppy, tennis-racket-type things -- on the snowiest days.
Half-marathon winner (1:13:29) Brandon Abasolo, 23, of Long Beach "couldn't get on a track all winter," so he went to a treadmill on the worst days, and fought his way through the slippery roads the rest of the time. "Just man up and deal with it," he said.
For women's marathon winner (3:05:58) Tara Farrell, 35, of East Quogue, there was the convenience of having a treadmill right in her basement, where she could get up to a 12-mile run-in-place. "Which I hate," she said.
Her 5:30 a.m. routine of meeting running partners for speed work on the Westhampton Beach High School track was disrupted because the track so often was snowed in. Then again, she traded that for entering more weekend races, and it appeared to pay off after her third-place finish in the marathon last year.
Two things kept women's half-marathon champion (1:23:45) Katie McGrath, 29, of Oakdale away from frigid runs in February -- one of them not so pleasant (tendinitis), the other quite appealing (a week in Florida).
Half-marathon runner-up (1:13:53) Dan Gargaro, 24, of West Islip had another solution for the frigid days besides the generally boring treadmill workout. "I lowered my mileage a little," he said, "and I'd go faster, trying to get warm quicker. If it was humanly possible, I'd get outside. I'm not a fan of hamster wheels."
So: Wind? What wind?