Snow Events and LI Running

Photo by GLIRC member Yvonne Leippert

Photo by GLIRC member Yvonne Leippert

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 of 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 15K 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 for the Ho Ho Ho Run. Most of the preregistered runners didn’t show, but we had three or four 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 was 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 badly 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!

LI Winter Runs Back in the Day

Mike (R) and fellow GLIRC members at the 1983 New Year's Eve Midnight Run in Central Park.(L to R: Jimmy McDougall, Bob Sanelli, Nancy Ackley, Mike Polansky)

Mike (R) and fellow GLIRC members at the 1983 New Year's Eve Midnight Run in Central Park.(L to R: Jimmy McDougall, Bob Sanelli, Nancy Ackley, Mike Polansky)

“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!