Long Island Marathon finishes strong at Eisenhower Park

A racer made his way to the finish with a little help from two young runners at the Long Island Marathon, which stepped off in East Meadow May 5. // Photo by Lara Rydesky/Long Island Advocate

By Lara Rydesky

Spirits were high when the Jovia Long Island Marathon stepped off the morning of May 5 as more than 2,000 runners took off down Park Boulevard, cutting through Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.

Horns blared and Mötley Crüe’s “Kickstart My Heart” blasted into the overcast morning air, sending off the runners as family and friends cheered from the sidelines. Allowing spectators at the starting line was a “massive change from previous years,” according to the marathon’s website, though visitors were not allowed any bags for safety purposes.

Nearly 1,500 men and women from across the country took part in the half-marathon, while the remaining 601 attempted the full 26.2-mile course around the park and through Uniondale.

Video by Lara Rydesky/Long Island Advocate

“I was actually going to run the Providence [R.I.] Marathon, and that ended up getting canceled,” said Heather Fontaine, a 24-year-old runner from Massachusetts. The Providence Marathon was originally slated for May 7, but was canceled in March owing in part to the closure of the Washington Bridge, which was found to suffer from structural issues.

But that didn’t deter Fontaine, who had trained for four months to compete in her first marathon. She and three friends drove down to Long Island the day before.

“We all go to school in Massachusetts, so we made the trip out here to support Heather,” said friend Beth Poland. “We’re all really excited to watch her run her first marathon and crush it.”

Emma Blomstrom shared a similar sentiment. “I’m excited to see how she does, and I think she’s gonna rock it,” she said.

And rock it she did. Fontaine finished 109th overall and 15th among women, with a final time of 3 hours, 24 minutes, 25.4 seconds, over an hour faster than the global average, according to a study conducted by RunRepeat.

Runners warming up and stretching before the start of the Long Island Marathon. // Photo by Lara Rydesky/Long Island Advocate

The overall winner, 27-year-old Ryan Clifford, clocked in at 2:31:04.5, followed by George Werner Jr. 15 minutes later. A world record of 2:00:35 was set by Kenyan athlete Kelvin Kiptum at the Chicago Marathon last October.

For the interactive versions of these graphics, click here for the male winners and here for the female winners.

The full and half-marathons were the final events of the Long Island Marathon Weekend, which kicked off at 8 p.m. on May 3 with the Friday Night Lights 5k Fun Run. The weekend also featured a 10-kilometer race and a 1-kilometer kids’ run, as well as the Long Island Health & Fitness Expo. The expo welcomed vendors from across Long Island, and aimed to motivate “people to engage in a healthy lifestyle within their community.”

Throughout the weekend, spectators were kept busy with live music and the Long Island Food Truck Festival, which hosted food trucks like the Philly Pretzel Factory and Carnival Ice Cream. The 7:30 a.m. start time and chilly weather made Buzz’d Express Coffee an easy favorite among visitors, and it maintained a steady line throughout the morning.

“This is always a special day for me, for my family,” said Nassau County Legislator Rose Walker in a speech before the race. “My husband was the race director for many years. He’s no longer with us, but I always get to this race to remember him and remember how wonderful this race is.”

People lined up for the fare offered at the food trucks, especially the warm coffee. // Photo by Lara Rydesky/Long Island Advocate