The Greater Long Island Running Club's President Mike Polansky will be blogging once a week here. Mike has over 50 years experience in the Long Island Running Community and he has lots of thoughts to share. 

TUESDAY, JANUARY 9, 2018

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March 22, 1998 was a very important day in the history of Long Island running and racing.

It was the date of the inaugural Kings Park 15 Kilometer Run which, at the time was the only 15 K run held on Long Island.  We had deliberately tried to come up with as tough a 9.3 miles as we could find, and I think that we succeeded.  Back then the race started and finished at the W.T. Rogers Middle School, which is at the 4 mile mark of the current course.  The runners went down Kohr Road, which is a major uphill on the current course.  Most of the fifth mile back then was an excruciating steep climb up Walnut Road in the San Remo development, and the final mile was what seemed to be an endless climb up Old Dock Road to the finish line.

In what pretty much set the standard for the next nineteen Kings Park races, the only significant snowstorm of the 1997-1998 Winter hit the New York Metropolitan area only a few hours before the starting time.  Nevertheless, 493 intrepid runners crossed the finish line.  (We had over 600 preregistered , and 97 folks actually signed up that morning, but a couple of hundred “no shows” mostly from the five boroughs of NYC where the weather was much worse than in Suffolk County, kept the turnout down.  Overall winners of the first Kings Park 15K were Carlos Castro (52:42) for the men and Helen Visgauss (1:03:19) for the women.

That inaugural Kings Park 15 K was a milestone in Long Island running and racing history for another reason.  It was the first “chip timed” race on Long Island. David Katz used Kings Park to introduced us to the Champion Chip Timing System, billed as the same technology as that of E-Z Pass.  Each runner wore a small plastic chip tied through his or her shoe lace.  The “chip” had been previously used at the Boston, Los Angeles and Berlin Marathon, but this was its first use on Long Island.  The chips had to be returned after the finish and reprogrammed before they could be used at another race.

So on March 22, 1998, not only did the “Challenge Begin” in Kings Park, but a new era in Long Island running and racing began as well.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 4, 2018

Today’s weather, with a couple more ridiculous days to come, and the need to cancel tonight’s Training Run in Sayville and the wise decision to postpone Saturday’s Greenway Run at the Bench until January 20th, reminds me past Winter storms and the effect they have had on the Long Island running community. My most vivid memory of this kind of snow event isn’t even a Winter one.  It was a Thanksgiving Day, somewhere in the early 1980s, when I was all set to head for Port Washington and David’s Katz’s 5 Mile Run at Manorhaven Park.  A massive snowstorm started early Wednesday evening and lasted till past dawn on Thursday, forcing the cancellation of the race.  I was even more obsessed 35 years ago than I am now, so a couple of buddies and I met at Plainview High School and did a five mile run up Washington Avenue and back.  The roads hadn’t been plowed yet, but we made our own route though the snow and accomplished what we had set out to do.  Hey, we were scheduled to do five miles that day, so we did it. My next best memory of a snow event is of the  Kings Park 15 K somewhere about 15 years ago.  We were actually up at the William T. Rogers Middle School (the race started and finished there until about 8 or 10 yeas ago), but the snow was coming down so heavily that it was just impossible to proceed.  Forget the “just about” - it would have been impossible. So we called it off and rescheduled it for June.  The ironic part of the story I that two or three hours later the sun was out, the roads were clear an we could have held the race Most recently in December of 2016, we had snow and ice on the streets of Bethpage.  Most of the preregistered runners didn’t show, but we had 3 or 4 hundred dedicated (out of their minds???) souls who were ready to go ....and so were Race Director Ric DiVeglio and the GLIRC team.  The race was scheduled to start at 9:30 AM.  At 9:00 AM, the head of the NCPD detail advised us that the icy roads were simply too treacherous for the race to proceed.  It was at about the same time that the guys who were going to be the lead bikes came in from the course and told us the same thing.  Well, we had way more than enough refreshments for everyone to enjoy, picked the raffle winners - including the Canon camera and the HDTV - and called it a day.  We would have loved to reschedule for the following Saturday, but it was Christmas weekend and there ws no way.  Obviously we made every effort to get the race sweatshirts to everyone who didn’t show up that morning....but it wasn’t the same, and I still feel baly about it today. I’ve got a lot of other similar weather related war stories, and to this day the idea of cancelling a race gives me great pain. However, you need to use your common sense, even if your instincts as a runner tell you to forge ahead!

Today’s weather, with a couple more ridiculous days to come, and the need to cancel tonight’s Training Run in Sayville and the wise decision to postpone Saturday’s Greenway Run at the Bench until January 20th, reminds me past Winter storms and the effect they have had on the Long Island running community.

My most vivid memory of this kind of snow event isn’t even a Winter one.  It was a Thanksgiving Day, somewhere in the early 1980s, when I was all set to head for Port Washington and David’s Katz’s 5 Mile Run at Manorhaven Park.  A massive snowstorm started early Wednesday evening and lasted till past dawn on Thursday, forcing the cancellation of the race.  I was even more obsessed 35 years ago than I am now, so a couple of buddies and I met at Plainview High School and did a five mile run up Washington Avenue and back.  The roads hadn’t been plowed yet, but we made our own route though the snow and accomplished what we had set out to do.  Hey, we were scheduled to do five miles that day, so we did it.

My next best memory of a snow event is of the  Kings Park 15 K somewhere about 15 years ago.  We were actually up at the William T. Rogers Middle School (the race started and finished there until about 8 or 10 yeas ago), but the snow was coming down so heavily that it was just impossible to proceed.  Forget the “just about” - it would have been impossible. So we called it off and rescheduled it for June.  The ironic part of the story I that two or three hours later the sun was out, the roads were clear an we could have held the race

Most recently in December of 2016, we had snow and ice on the streets of Bethpage.  Most of the preregistered runners didn’t show, but we had 3 or 4 hundred dedicated (out of their minds???) souls who were ready to go ....and so were Race Director Ric DiVeglio and the GLIRC team.  The race was scheduled to start at 9:30 AM.  At 9:00 AM, the head of the NCPD detail advised us that the icy roads were simply too treacherous for the race to proceed.  It was at about the same time that the guys who were going to be the lead bikes came in from the course and told us the same thing.  Well, we had way more than enough refreshments for everyone to enjoy, picked the raffle winners - including the Canon camera and the HDTV - and called it a day.  We would have loved to reschedule for the following Saturday, but it was Christmas weekend and there ws no way.  Obviously we made every effort to get the race sweatshirts to everyone who didn’t show up that morning....but it wasn’t the same, and I still feel baly about it today.

I’ve got a lot of other similar weather related war stories, and to this day the idea of cancelling a race gives me great pain. However, you need to use your common sense, even if your instincts as a runner tell you to forge ahead!

 

 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

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“Back in the day” the racing season on Long Island ended with the Ho Ho Ho 5K Run in mid-December and, with the exception of the Joe Latino Relays at Sunken Meadow on a date in February that often ran afoul of Winter weather, didn’t come alive again until the Little Cow Harbor 4 Miler and Kings Park 15K in March.

Things have definitely changed!  The new Maggie’s Mile at Sunken Meadow on New Year’s Day adds a new dimension to what were always lots of untimed New Year’s Day fun runs.  The January 13th  Sayville Running Company 10 Mile Run to the Blue Point Brewery has become one of the biggest races on the Long Island calendar, and may become even bigger in 2019 when the new, bigger Brewery location is available.  The January 28th Icebreaker Marathon and Half Marathon offers runners an opportunity to get a long run in, and perhaps qualify for Boston, for the low, low price of only $25.  The new Mardi Gras Run to the Great South Bay Brewery on February 11th promises to be another great run , followed by what is becoming the traditional “all you can eat, all the beer you can (safely!!!) drink” with a live band post-race party!  Then it's time to get more serious with the Caumsett 50K/25 K plus the usual Little Cow Harbor and Kings Park races in early March.

The Long Island running and racing scene is alive and well all Winter Long.  Be a part of it!