06/15/13 8:39pm
06/15/2013 8:39 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Runners hit the course at the start of the 34th annual Shelter Island 10K Run.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Runners hit the course at the start of the 34th annual Shelter Island 10K Run.


The Boston Marathon.

At least for the foreseeable future, those words bring to mind the horrific images of the bombings that occurred on April 15, reportedly killing three and injuring 264.

Noting the peaceful nature of his sport, Bill Rodgers, one of running’s beloved elder statesmen, couldn’t help but point out the “sad irony” that such an attack has become associated with a joyous sporting event.

Rodgers, a former United States Olympian and four-time winner of both the Boston and New York City marathons, was home with his girlfriend watching the marathon on television when the explosions went off.

“You don’t believe it’s real,” he said. “It is personal for all of us.”

And by “us,” Rodgers was referring to the running community, which has banded together in support of Boston. So, runners continue to run and compete.

“It’s kind of like a healing process,” Rodgers said. “Boston, I think, shook them up bad.”


The impact of those bombings continues to be felt. Two months to the day of those attacks, the Boston Marathon was undoubtedly on the minds of many at the 34th annual Shelter Island 10K Run on Saturday. One could see it from the stepped up security to the pre-race ceremony to the items worn by the runners. Some runners wore T-shirts with the words “BOSTON STRONG” printed on them. Many wore wristbands. One of Rodgers’ wristbands read, “We Run As One.”

Many people were undoubtedly thinking about Boston, but it would only be understandable if Ethiopia was on Ayele Megersa Feyisa’s mind. Nearing the end a three-month spell in the United States during which he competed in nine road races, Feyisa ran for the first time on Shelter Island and the last time before heading back to his African homeland on Tuesday. He ran a time most human beings could only dream about, and recorded a triumph only a tiny percentage of runners ever get to experience, yet he was disappointed, nonetheless.

Sure, Feyisa captured first place, but he didn’t break the meet record. The 25-year-old Ethiopian, who has been living in New York City, fell 22 seconds short of the course mark that was set last year by Simon Ndirangu of Kenya. Ndirangu had himself clipped three seconds off the previous record that Alena Reta of Ethiopia set in 2010.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | The victims of the bombings at the Boston Marathon were remembered at the Shelter Island 10K Run on Saturday.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | The victims of the bombings at the Boston Marathon were remembered at the Shelter Island 10K Run on Saturday.

Feyisa was looking to put the record back in an Ethiopian’s hands — his hands — but it wasn’t in the cards. His winning time of 28:59 was hardly shabby, though. He finished six seconds ahead of the runner-up, Amos Sang, a Kenyan who lives in Manchester, Conn.

But Feyisa, who does not speak English, did not look pleased afterward. His manager, Alem Kahsay, who acted as a translator for reporters, confirmed as much.

“He feels bad because he tried to break the course record,” Kahsay said. “He’s happy [with his training], but he’s not happy today.”

The baking sun may have had something to do with keeping that course record out of reach. Feyisa also indicated that the hilly course was a challenge. “It’s very difficult, down, up,” he said following his fourth victory from nine road races.

Feyisa, running a 4:40 mile pace, took the lead on the second mile. Sang said he was close by until he slowed down a little on the fourth mile. Feyisa “kept pushing it,” Sang said. “He tried to press it. By mile four he was alone by himself.”

Sang sounded delighted with his performance and seemed to enjoy the experience. “I was not expecting second place,” he said. “Everything was amazing.”

Girma Gebre of New York City was third in 30:26. He was followed by Glarius Rop of Springfield, Mass., (31:09), Abdelhadi El Mouaziz of Queens (31:29), Abdelkebir Lamachi of Queens (31:43), Joseph Ekuon of Kingston (33:41) and Thomas Rammelkamp of Miller Place (33:57).

The next one to cross the finish line was the women’s winner, Katie Di Camillo, 26, of Providence, R.I.. She clocked a time of 34:19.

“I’m excited,” said Di Camillo, who ran cross-country and track for both Holy Trinity High School and Providence College. “I finished strong.”

The next four finishers were women as well: New York City residents Hirut Beyene Guangul (34:33) and Tsehay Gebre Getiso (34:51), Askale Merachi of Jackson Heights (35:16) and Atalelech Asfaw of Albuquerque, N.M. (35:35).

The top local runners were Keith Steinbrecher of Wading River (16th in 37:07), Bryan Knipfing of Shelter Island Heights (24th in 38:49), Rick Buckheit of Southold (33rd in 40:36) and Kyle Lehman of Cutchogue (37th in 41:15). The first local woman to finish was Suzy Heffernan of Cutchogue. She was 23rd in 46:56.

Nine hundred and seventy-two runners finished the race.

The Shelter Island race was further evidence that the spirit of athletics does not die easily. Runners are by nature a determined group.

“Shocking, shocking, shocking,” Sang said when reminded of the Boston bombings. “It’s something that happened, but we love running. We enjoy running. We’re not going to stop. We’re going to keep going.”

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06/16/12 9:34pm
06/16/2012 9:34 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Simon Ndirangu of Kenya meeting with reporters after setting a Shelter Island 10K Run record: 28 minutes 37 seconds.


The weather conditions were ripe for a record.

A typical day for the Shelter Island 10K Run is hot, humid and sticky. Saturday was not like that at all. It wasn’t too hot, humidity was not a factor, and there was even a refreshing breeze that cooled the runners like a giant fan.

Some 90 minutes before the 33rd annual race, Dr. Frank Adipietro, the race’s medical director and public-address announcer, told a reporter, “We could definitely see a course record today.”

How right he was.

Simon Ndirangu of Kenya clocked a winning time of 28 minutes 37 seconds for a race record. He clipped three seconds off the previous mark that Alena Reta of Ethiopia set in 2010 when he won the race for the second time in four years.

But Saturday was Ndirangu’s day. The 26-year-old was steady throughout. Running a 4:37-per-mile pace, he completed the first five kilometers in 14:12 and then finished the second half of the race in 14:26.

“I’m very happy,” said Ndirangu, who had never run in the Shelter Island 10K before. “My aim was to beat the course record, and I did it.”

Second place went to Tesfaye Girma of Ethiopia in 29:10. The residences of the next six finishers — Samuel Ndereba (29:45), Abiyot Endale (29:50), Mengistu Nebsi (30:01), Ketema Nigusse (31:00), Boniface Biwott (31:18) and Mikael Tesfaye (31:29) — were not listed. Dan Wallace-Periac of Nyack (31:39) was ninth and Thomas Rammelkamp of Miller Place (32:35) took 10th.

Ndirangu, who started running professionally in 2006, did not know what his competition would be like, so he was running into the unknown, in a sense.

“I was not sure I was going to win, but I was sure I was going to do something under 29 minutes,” he said. “… It’s an opportunity God gives you once.”

And he snatched it.

Ndirangu made his move around the three-mile mark, when he took the lead. “By four miles, I was 90-percent [sure] I was going to win,” he said. “I believe I have a strong kick.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Malika Mejdoub, a Moroccan who lives in Albuquerque, N.M., won the women's race after taking second place last year.

In the women’s race, last year’s runner-up, Malika Mejdoub, took the top honor, winning in 34:28. Mejdoub, a Moroccan who lives in Albuquerque, N.M., held off a challenge from Hirut Mandefro of Ethiopia, who was second in 34:42.

Speaking of her time, which improved upon the 34:40 she turned in last year, Mejdoub said: “It’s not my best, but it’s alright.”

Third place went to McKenzie Melander of Apple Valley, Minn. Her time was 34:51.

Mejdoub, Morocco’s former cross-country champion, is hoping to compete in this summer’s Olympics in England. Morocco doesn’t hold trials to select its marathon runners, so for Mejdoub, it’s a waiting game as she waits for the Olympic list to come out. She’s hoping her name will be on it.

“Of course, anybody dreams to go to the Olympics,” she said. “I’m waiting. I don’t know what to do, what’s the plan. Anything can happen.”

Six former Olympians ran the course. Among them were two women who finished in the top 10: a Russian, Ludmila Petrova (seventh in 35:57), and Joan Benoit Samuelson of Freeport (10th in 39:29).

The other former Olympians were Keith Brantly, Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter and Shelter Island’s own Amanda Clark, a sailor who will compete in the Olympic Games in England later this summer.

The other top 10 finishers in the women’s race were Dorcus Chesang (fourth in 34:52), Ilona Barvanova (fifth in 35:15), Tinbit Wedgbral (sixth in 35:30), Heather Williams of Centerport (eighth in 38:26) and Tara Farrell of East Quogue (ninth in 38:55).

Ryan Udvadia, 16, of Shoreham was the top local finisher, coming in 14th in 34:28. Ken Rideout was the first Shelter Islander to cross the finish line. He was 15th in the men’s race in 36:26.

The final results showed that 1,067 runners completed the race.

When the race started in front of Shelter Island High School, a scene that looked like something Norman Rockwell would have painted took shape. Heads bobbed up and down as a mass of bodies snaked their way forward with American flags waving in the background. And there were more American flags, hundreds of them, planted in the ground over the last mile of the race, which was designated as “Joey’s Mile.” It is in memory of Shelter Island’s hero, 1st Lt. Joseph Theinert, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in June 2010.

African runners have a hold on this race, and for good reason: Running is their lifestyle.

“We do this for our life,” Ndirangu said. “We always train. In Africa we train hard, and probably most of the runners in Africa, they don’t have a job. Their job is just running, and those who are running, they take it very seriously.”

Count Girma among them. He said he runs 100 training miles a week.

“That’s my job,” said Girma, who won a 10-kilometer race in Orange County, N.Y., three weeks ago. “I’m training every day. I want to win.”

For Ndirangu and others, running is a way of life.

“Running is like my hobby. I like it,” Ndirangu explained. “In my career, I want to make history. I want to make victories, so this is one of them. I’m very, very happy.”

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06/18/11 9:48pm
06/18/2011 9:48 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | African runners once again figured prominently in the Shelter Island 10K Run, which was held for the 32nd time on Saturday.

African runners must like something about Shelter Island because they keep winning, posting quality times and dominating in the small island’s annual 10-kilometer race.

Kumsa Adugna, 25, of Ethiopia, who was the runner-up last year, was the winner this time around in the 32nd annual Shelter Island 10K Run on Saturday. Adugna, running a 4-minute 47-second mile pace, bolted across the finish line, completing the course in 29:44. He nudged out Harbert Okuti of Uganda by two seconds and third-place Keteme Nigusse of Ethiopia by three seconds in a close finish.

“I’m happy. I like,” Adugna, whose English is limited, told reporters afterward.

Adugna ran with the lead pack the whole way. He was first among a distinct group of six runners at the front that was later whittled down to three. Adugna, who said he felt confident, took the lead for himself on the grass during the final sprint to the finish line.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Kumsa Adugna of Ethiopia, a runner-up last year, posted a winning time of 29 minutes 44 seconds.

Seven of the top eight finishers were Africans. Girma Tolla of Ethiopia was fourth in 30:04, Mourad Marofit of Morocco was fifth in 30:24, Abiyot Endale Worku of Ethiopia was sixth in 30:49 and Demesse Tefera of Ethiopia was eighth in 32:50.

Tefera followed seventh-place Birhanu Feysa of Silver Springs, Md. (31:18).

The first Long Islander was Matt Walsh of Wantagh. He was ninth in 34:52, which was 13 seconds ahead of 10th-place Christopher Koegel of Malverne.

Even the women’s champion had an African connection. Although Tezaya Dengersa, 30, is Turkish, she lives in Ethiopia with her husband and their two children.

In clocking a winning time of 34:17, Dengersa for the first time finished ahead of her rival, second-place Malika Mejdoub of Morocco, who turned in a time of 34:40.

Dengersa said she pushed herself as hard as she could. Perhaps she needed to. Speaking of Mejdoub, Dengersa said, “She’s strong.”

Mejdoub said the two of them ran the first three miles together before Dengersa made her move.

“Actually, I didn’t run well,” Mejdoub said. “I was tired a little bit this week, but it’s O.K. I took second place. I’m happy.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Tezaya Dengersa, a Turk who lives in Ethiopia, won the women's race in 34 minutes 17 seconds.

Caroline Bierbaum of New York City came in third at 34:43. Michele Buonora of Sayville was the first Long Island woman with a time of 40:52 that brought her 10th place.

Not counting Dengersa, Mejdoub was one of four Africans to place among the top eight in the women’s race. Among them were Salome Kosgei of Kenya (fourth in 36:15), who was followed by Aileen Barry of New York City (37:41) and Jane Finck of New York City (38:47). The next three female finishers were Muluye Gurmu of Ethiopia (38:57), Ilham Batal of Morocco (39:19) and Jenny Malik of Rochester (40:18).

The event featured the most former Olympians it has ever had — four — with Bill Rodgers, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Tolla and Dengersa taking part. Other big names from the running world participated, including Kim Jones and Jon Sinclair.

“There are so many good runners today,” said Rodgers, who won four Boston Marathons, four New York City Marathons and ran the marathon in the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. “It’s not like 30 years ago, and so many good, older runners today, all ages, and that’s what you see here.”

Among the field of 22 elite runners were seven Ethiopians, four Moroccans, a Ugandan and a Kenyan. Dr. Frank Adipietro, the race’s medical director, said, “I’m going to have to say this is the strongest field we’ve had in the 32-year history of the race.”

The warm, sunny weather earlier in the day changed as the 5:30 p.m. starting time approached. It got cloudy, protecting runners from the sun, but there was still humidity to deal with.

As the runners made their way along the American-flag-lined course, with trees offering welcomed shade for some of the way, smiling spectators lining the route offered refreshments, applause and encouragement. “It’s a celebration of our sport,” said Samuelson, who won the first Olympic women’s marathon in 1984 in Los Angeles.

Still, the conditions were apparently not right for a record, like the course record Alena Reta of Ethiopia set in 2010 when he won the race for the second time in four years, clocking a time of 28:40.

Many reasons can be attributed to the Africans’ fine record in long-distance running. Samuelson gained a firsthand appreciation for that a few weeks ago when she visited Kenya.

“I was really impressed with the way they trained,” she said. “They just run everywhere. If I went for a run, kids would jump off the backs of trucks or would run out of the schoolyard and they would run alongside us.”

The affable Rodgers, who figures he has run some 165,000 miles over the course of his career, made his third appearance in the race as part of a celebrity pace group.

“I was glad to not have to push as hard as I could because this was hard enough,” he said. “I’m getting a little creaky.”

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06/17/11 8:29am
06/17/2011 8:29 AM

Saturday marks the 32nd Shelter Island 10K run.

Will Ethiopian runners maintain their grip on the Shelter Island 10K Run?

That question will be answered Saturday when the race is run for the 32nd time.

Ethiopians featured prominently in last year’s event. Alena Reta of Ethiopia was the top male finisher for the second time in four years. Reta took one second off the course record he set in 2007 by clocking a winning time of 28 minutes 40 seconds over the 6.2-mile distance.

Reta was followed by fellow countrymen Kumsa Adunga (29:44), Ketema Nigusse (29:46) and Demesse Tefera (29:49). Yet another Ethiopian might have finished among them, but Dereji Tadesse dropped out of the race about midway through it with back pain.

Even so, Ethiopian runners dominated the top spots, taking the top six finishes.

Ehiopians grabbed two of the top three places in the women’s race. Emebet Bacha Lencho won in 34:26 and was ninth overall. Right behind her was Anzhelika Averoka of the Ukraine in 34:49 and Irene Limika of Ethiopia in 34:51.

Two former Olympic marathoners, Bill Rodgers and Joan Benoit Samuelson, will return to run on Shelter Island. Both are looking to avenge second-place finishes in their respective age divisions last year.

Rodgers, a living symbol of the 1970s running boom, won the Boston and New York City marathons four times each between 1975 and 1980, twice breaking the American record in Boston. He finished 40th in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

This will be Rodgers’ third appearance in the Shelter Island race.

“I love the whole feeling to this event,” Rodgers told The Shelter Island Reporter after running a time of 43:48 in last year’s race. “In a way, this is the best of road racing. The big races like the New York City Marathon are cool in a certain way. But this, here, is where people begin to explore the sport and really test themselves. … It’s where it all happens.”

Samuelson won gold in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, the year the first women’s marathon was introduced. She holds the fastest times for an American woman in the Chicago and the Olympic marathons.

Last year Samuelson took part in the Golden Girls Gallop, a new prize competition for women 50 and older in the Shelter Island 10K Run. The first Golden Girls Gallop winner was Carmen Ayala-Troncoso of Austin, Texas, who posted a time of 37:38. She was followed by Samuelson in 37:44.

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