Another record number turned out for the East Hampton Town-John Keeshan Realty 3 and 6-mile Turkey Trots in Montauk on Thanksgiving Day.
Seven hundred and forty had registered, 641 finished — 551 in the 3-miler and 90 in the 6 — and the weather couldn’t have been better.
Two days later, in Sag Harbor, far fewer turned out for the Old Whalers Community House 5K, which is in its second year — the Montauk races were celebrating their 36th anniversary — though the 74 Harbor runners were no less enthusiastic.
Kira Garry, a 19-year-old Yale sophomore, won the 6-miler, in 36 minutes and 49.56 seconds. Jason Hancock, a 38-year-old Amagansett School teacher, was second, and Jim MacWhinnie, who has in the past few years made a remarkable recovery from a nigh-fatal accident, was third.
Entire families flock to the Thanksgiving Day races in Montauk, and if there were a family prize it probably would have gone to the Garrys (though the Brierleys and the Naulas would also have been in the running). Kira’s younger sister, Katrina, a Friends Academy junior, topped the females in the 3-miler, placing 18th over all in 19:27.62; Kira and Katrina’s father, Bill (who has once again qualified for the world triathlon championships), was 16th in the 6-miler and placed second in the 50-to-59-year-old age group. The girls’ mother, Louisa, placed fourth in the 6-miler’s female 40-49 group in 47:15.81.
Tim Rossi, 20, an Emory College cross-country and track runner from New York City whose family has a house on Shelter Island, was the 3-miler’s winner, in 17:04.
It was his third time at Montauk and his best finish — he was third last year, he said, adding that he had run with a pack to begin with before taking the lead at mile 2.
The Old Whalers 5K winner was Spencer Carlson, a philosophy major at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, in 19:05.58. The women’s winner — eighth over all — was Julia Marino, a 17-year-old Sacred Heart High School runner from New York City, in 22:03.88.
Liz Yennie, one of the church’s elders, said the proceeds would help underwrite the costs of keeping its community house, “a building that dates to 1840 or ’60, even longer than you’ve been around, open to any group that wants to use it.”
Among those that do at present are Sag Harbor’s Food Pantry — “the oldest on the East End,” said Yennie — Weight Watchers, and Alcoholics Anonymous.
“Eventually,” said Bruce Beyer, who heads the church’s property committee, “we’d like to fix it up — it needs a new floor and ceiling — so that it can be available for such occasions as wedding receptions or baby showers.”
A northeast wind was whipping over the water as he spoke, a few feet from the finish line, leading Beyer to recall that “the water was the highest I’ve ever seen it during the hurricane. It was over the top of that bulkhead, but there wasn’t too much damage. Winds out of the northeast here generally switch around to the south — that’s what it did during the hurricane.”
Dermot Quinn, 43, of Springs, who was seventh, in 21:57.79, and who had two days before placed 18th among the 6-milers in Montauk in 43:23.81, said, when asked about the wind, “For the most part the course was pretty sheltered — it’s a nice course. And we had the wind at our backs when we finished, which was great.” Quinn’s son, Adrie, who’ll be 3 years old in February, ran with him in the final yards.
Back to the Montauk races, George Watson, whose son, Chris, recently revived the 3.4-mile Dock race over which his father used to preside, confided to this writer as he walked by that he too could be counted among the white men over 64 who’d voted for Obama.
Watson, 68, who placed 254th in the 3-miler in 30:05.80, good enough for second place in the men’s 60-69 division, behind the fleet 65-year-old Eddie McDonald (24:21.92), wondered, as did Kevin Barry, where John Conner was. In San Remo, Italy, they were reminded, attending a cousin’s ordination.
Before he left for Italy, Conner, a former three-time world track record holder and the coach of a number of runners here, was interviewed in these pages. Watson said, with a smile, that he’d read it and had duly “sent John an insulting message.”
Erik Engstrom, one of the young runners Conner coaches — as do Barry and Bill Herzog — was to have run, along with Adam Cebulski and Jack Link, in the Foot Locker invitational in the Bronx this past weekend.
Engstrom, 14, reportedly the second-ranked freshman runner in Suffolk County, ran the 6-miler on Thanksgiving, finishing fourth in 38:18.77.
Veteran Turkey Trotters remembered the days when, in the words of one of them, “it would take a long time for the turkeys [frozen ones provided by John Keeshan] to come out.”
Bob Beattie, who timed both last Thursday and Saturday’s races, recalled the hand-held days some 20 years ago, when he’d have volunteers strip off the bottoms of the runners’ number bibs as they came through the chute, after which they’d put them in order on a spindle. The names, ages, and genders on the strips would then be aligned with the clicked-off times by Beattie, who, in turn, would record the results by hand.
“I’d get the results out about an hour later. . . . We didn’t use tongue depressors, though it was basically the same thing.”
“Now,” Beattie said, “we’ve got two $50,000 rigs and a state-of-the-art Jaguar timing system, which has 70 percent of the market. It was invented by an R.F.I.D. [radio frequency identification] technician who was also a triathlete, and who kept saying to himself, ‘There’s got to be a better way.’ ”
“Racing’s done out here for the season — this is the last one,” Beattie added, “though we’ve got a race in Patchogue coming up and one in Connetquot. Also, we’ll be doing two in New York City, for the first time. My brother, Ron, will be doing the one in Central Park and I’ll be doing the one in Riverside Park.”
“Bob actually got his start using an abacus,” said Ron, who was listening in.
As for the coming year, Bob Beattie said, “We’re definitely going to have an Andy Neidnig 5K — on this course, in the spring, probably in May. His house, you know, is the one-mile mark. We should have a big crowd.”