Impressive Event Unfurled in Sag Harbor

A 5K run-walk in Sag Harbor honoring that village’s heroic Marine, Jordan C. Haerter
The women’s top three were Tara Farrell, center, Barbara Gubbins, at left, and Sinead FitzGibbon. Jack Graves

Jordan’s Run, a 5K run-walk in Sag Harbor honoring that village’s heroic Marine, Jordan C. Haerter, who on April 22, 2008, saved the lives of 33 fellow Marines by standing his ground in the face of an explosive-packed truck whose driver’s aim was to blow up a barracks in Ramadi, Iraq, that he and Jonathan Yale were guarding, has, after taking some tentative steps in 2016, grown by leaps and bounds.

“There were maybe 20 of us here last year,” said Joi Jackson Perle, who, with her fellow Team Jordan members, including Patty Sales and Mike Davis, pushed within the past year to build Jordan’s Run into the impressive event that was unfurled Sunday, the late Navy Cross-winner’s birthday.

American flags and veterans abounded, and a huge flag hoisted by a cherry picker shaded the finish line at the bottom of Pierson High’s hill. There were 433 registrants and 358 finishers, including Steven Xiarhos of West Barnstable, Mass., a police officer there whose son, Nicholas, one of the Marines Jordan Haerter had saved in Iraq, was later killed in action himself, in Garmsir, Afghanistan, on July 23, 2009, the day of the Soldier Ride here.

“Nick and Jordan served together,” Xiarhos said after crossing the finish line with his fiancée, Denise Kalbach. “They were in the same battalion, the 1st Battalion of the 9th Marine Regiment. They’re called ‘The Walking Dead’ — the Marines’ most decorated unit. Nick came here when the [North Haven-Sag Harbor] bridge was renamed in Jordan’s honor. He and a group of 19 of them drove up from Camp Lejeune. Nick was so impressed by the patriotic feeling here. He was welcomed by the firefighters, he had drinks with them. . . .”

“It’s so shocking,” Perle said, in a separate conversation, of Lance Corporal Haerter’s death. “You never think something like that is going to happen in a small place like this. . . .”

“It’s the price you pay for freedom,” said Xiarhos, adding that “the last time I hugged my son, who had joined the American battalion in Afghanistan, was on May 15, 2009. I hugged him and he got on the bus. . . . He was 21. Jordan was 19. . . .”

Xiarhos gave Patty Sales his son’s dog tags to wear in the race.

In a ceremony before the race-walk began, JoAnn Lyles, Jordan Haerter’s mother, said, in part, “Dear Lord, as we start this race, help us to think of our veterans and currently serving military, law enforcement officers, first responders, and firefighters. Give us purpose with each stride we take. Allow us to see the beauty that surrounds us today, not only this beautiful little village of Sag Harbor, but the smiles we see all around us.”

“Help us to know the cost of freedom and the sacrifices given by so many, that allow us to enjoy this day. Enjoy the camaraderie of old friends and the joy of finding new ones, born of shared experiences. Guide us all safely home when this day is done. God bless America. Amen.”

As for the race itself, Troy Taylor, a 23-year-old Texan who has been working in one of East Hampton’s Gubbins Running Ahead stores, won it, in 16 minutes and 25.8 seconds.

Barbara Gubbins, who, at 57, was the women’s runner-up to Tara Farrell (a former Gubbins employee), at first said when questioned that Taylor worked 90 hours a week before correcting herself. “Forty-five hours a week, I meant to say,” she said, with a smile.

The runner-up, Gustavo Morastitla, a 17-year-old Southampton High School senior, was also wearing a Gubbins singlet. He works in a Gubbins Southampton store and has been working out this summer with Taylor, a 4:02 miler when he was at the University of North Texas. In addition, Justin Gubbins, Barbara’s husband, has been helping Morastitla increase his speed in interval workouts on Southampton High’s track.

“Gustavo [whose time was 16:39.7] went out on the lead — he wasn’t supposed to,” said Gubbins, who fought off a strong challenge from Sinead FitzGibbon, who is 10 years her junior.

Farrell, as aforesaid, was the women’s winner (and fifth over all), in 19:35.6. Gubbins’s time was 20:30.7, FitzGibbon’s, 20:31.9. They were eighth and ninth over all.

Dennis Fabiszak, the East Hampton Library’s executive director, and an ultra runner, was sixth, in 19:51.0. Steve Bellone, the county executive, was 127th, in 28:25.9.

“I’ll get her when I grow up,” FitzGibbon said of Gubbins, whom she’s has beaten just once, at a Katy’s Courage 5K, also in Sag Harbor. “On second thought, I think I’ll not grow up,” she said with a smile.

A.J. McGuire, the newly installed Sag Harbor Village police chief, was said by the Team Jordan members to have been very helpful in making sure the event, among whose many participants were Gold Star families (families who have lost a loved one in military service) and the Red Knights International Firefighters Motorcycle Club, ran smoothly. 

Troy Taylor, a 4:02 miler when he was at the University of North Texas, was the winner of Jordan’s Run. Jack Graves