Eighteen Julys ago, Naomi Wangui of Kenya won our annual Long Island Women’s 5K Run with a time of 16:05 to take home the $2000 first prize. Four years later, Russian Olympic hopeful Tatiana Chulakh ran a 16:01 to win $2000. This was the pattern that had lasted for many years before and for many years afterwards.
Sometime while we were planning for the 2008 Run, someone (it probably wasn’t me!) asked a very pertinent question – Why were we giving thousands of dollars to folks who didn’t live on Long Island, who came in on the LIRR that morning and left right after the race? It didn’t take us much time to come up with what was the obvious – and obviously correct! – decision.
Instead of giving big prize money to non-Long Islanders, we now give modest ($500-$300-$200) awards to the first three finishers overall, plus $100 to each age group winner, plus $100 to the winners in the two Athena categories. Most important of all, we limited prize money eligibility to women who were either U.S. citizens or permanent residents of Long Island.
The net result, and I think that it’s a good one, is that every July we are able to reward twenty Long Island residents for their accomplishments, giving our local champions of every age group a chance to get some (admittedly small) financial recognition for their efforts.
I guess what may be an even bigger attraction these days is the diamond earrings valued at $2500 that one lucky entrant in the Runner’s Edge Long Island Women’s 5Kwill be getting as a result of the Grand Door Prize drawing held after the Awards Ceremony. Dan Kulchinsky of Mayfair Jewelers has been very generously donating the earrings every year, and it is something that everyone very much looks forward to.
This event pretty much has everything these days – a (very) fast, flat course that finishes on the track at Farmingdale High School, a free kids fun run with every finisher getting a medal, the prize money and door prizes, refreshments that include the GLIRC ice cream wagon, watermelon and the great pastries generously donated by Glen Wolther and All Round Foods.
And, of course, the bottom line in this year when empowering women has come to the forefront of public awareness, it is more important than ever that women participate in an event that has led the way in encouraging women runners on Long Island since 1984.