Olympians Were On Hand for 10K

Another record is set at Shelter Island
On the way toward the home stretch, the lead pack included Simon Ndirangu, who was to win, Boniface Biwott, Tesfaye Girma, who was to be the runner-up, and Samuel Ndereba, who was to place third. Carrie Ann Salvi

    “We’re going to have to make the course harder,” Mary Ellen Adipietro, the Shelter Island 10K director, said with a laugh on Monday, two days after Simon Ndirangu topped a field of 1,066 finishers in 28 minutes and 37 seconds, setting a new course record. The 26-year-old Kenyan’s time this year was three seconds faster than Alene Reta’s winning time in 2010, when Reta, an Ethiopian, bested by one second his own 2007 record of 28:41.
    For winning Ndirangu received $1,000; for breaking the course record he received a $1,500 bonus, and for leading at the 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 mile marks, $300.
    The women’s winner was Malika Mejdoub, 32, of Morocco, in 34:28, 12 seconds quicker than she ran last year, when she was the runner-up. Maria Luisa Servin’s 33:12, a record set in 1997, thus held up. Mejdoub was 14th over all.
    This was an Olympics year on Shelter Island. Former Olympians Joan Benoit Samuelson, 55, Frank Shorter, 64, Bill Rodgers, 64, Keith Brantley, 50, and Ludmilla Petrova, 43 — who was to win among the masters women — were among the runners, not to mention Shelter Island’s own Amanda Clark, 30, who sailed in the 2008 Olympics, and hopes, along with her new crew, Sarah Lihan, to bring home a medal from Weymouth, England (the sailing venue for the London Olympics), later this summer.
    Clark and Lihan have good reason to hope inasmuch as they were the silver medalists in the World Cup sailing championships in Hyeres, France, in April, and enjoyed a high finish in a weeklong international regatta in Weymouth recently.
    All of the above ran in the 10K, with Samuelson (40:00), Brantley (45:00), Rodgers (50:00), and Shorter (60:00) leading pace groups in the record-friendly conditions.
    Race day on Shelter Island often is hot and humid, though this time, said Cliff Clark, its founder, “the weather was perfect — in the high 60s to low 70s, dry, and not a cloud in the sky.”
    Clark, who competed in the 1972 Olympic trials in the steeplechase and in the 5,000-meter race, can trace his friendship with Frank Shorter, the ’72 Olympics marathon champion, to that time. He said Shorter, who was last here in 1990, and Rodgers had laid the foundation for the running world, making the sport a noted and worthy one.
    Saturday’s runner-up was Tesfaye Girma, 29, of Ethiopia in 29:10. Samuel Ndereba, 35, of Kenya was third, in 29:45, and Mengistu Nebsi, 34, of Ethiopia was fourth. Ketema Nigusse, 31, of Ethiopia, who won Shelter Island in 2009 and was third last year, placed fifth, in 31:00.
    One of the Ethiopians, Abiyot Endale, who would have been fourth, was disqualified following the finish for having cut the course near the end, a shortcut that allowed him to catch up with Ndereba.
    “It was a mistake,” Janelle Kraus-Nadeau, who was in charge of the elite runners, said afterward. “Cliff and I saw him do it — he took it well when we told him, he didn’t protest.”
    Hirut Mandefro, 28, of Ethiopia was the women’s runner-up in 34:42. McKenzie Melander, 22, was the third woman, in 34:51. A recent University of Iowa graduate, she has been coached by Layne Anderson, the husband of the former Alexis Hamblet, a cross-country and track protégée of Clark’s. It was the first professional race and the first road 10K for Melander, the Big 10 Conference’s 5,000-meter champion, whose 15:57 at an invitational meet at Stanford this past season left her just 7 seconds shy of qualifying for the Olympic 5,000-meter trials.
    Melander stayed with the Kraus family over the weekend. “She loved it here, and she ran a great race,” said Kraus-Nadeau. “She began as a 1,500-meter runner, which showed at the end when she passed [the 19-year-old fourth-place finisher from Kenya] Dorcus Chesang.”
    Barbara Gubbins, whose Running Ahead shops on the South Fork help sponsor the race, found herself finishing between two Olympians — Petrova and Samuelson — in 40:15, good for third among the masters women. Her time, she said later, “was the best I’ve run in a while.”
    “I never saw the Russian,” said Gubbins, who ran the first mile with 14-year-old Erik Engstrom of Amagansett, and ended up with Samuelson, who, “all of a sudden, after we’d hit the first mile mark at 6:20, took off. It was funny. I doubt she was worried about me — she’s a much higher quality runner than me. I could see her throughout the course, but I had no chance of catching her.”
    Petrova crossed the line in 35:57, in 20th place; Samuelson was 40th, in 39:29, and Gubbins was 50th, in 40:15.
    The wheelchair winner was 17-year-old Adam Cruz of Brentwood, in 28:46. Peter Hawkins, 48, of Malverne was second, in 31:38, and William Lehr, 54, of Shelter Island was third, in 37:56.
    Joseph Ekuom, 42, of Kenya, who placed 10th, was the men’s masters winner, in 33:02. Ken Rideout, 41, of Shelter Island, was second masters runner, in 36:26.
    Tara Wilson, 25, of Shelter Island Heights, topped the 25-to-29-year-old women’s category; Jim MacWhinnie, 40, of Southampton, who was 43rd over all, won the men’s 40-to-44 division; Mike Bahel, 45, of East Hampton, 33rd over all, was second in the men’s 45-49 group; John Kenney, 56, of Shelter Island Heights was the first men’s 55-59 finisher; Jeff Yennie, 63, of Sag Harbor was the 60-64 runner-up; Arthur Nealon, 65, of East Hampton led the men’s 65-69 group, and Blaire Stauffer, 79, of Sag Harbor, Larry Liddle, 76, of Southampton, and Americo Fiore, 82, of Southampton were the top three men in the 75-99 division.
    Back to Kraus-Nadeau, the nine-time Atlantic Coast Conference champion was inducted into Wake Forest’s Hall of Fame last fall. She has also been named as one of the A.C.C.’s top 50 cross-country and track athletes over the past 50 years.
    While she’s spending this year taking care of her and her husband Bill’s 1-year-old daughter, Josephine, Kraus-Nadeau, who lives in Madison, Conn., said she was happy to have been offered a coaching job at the Hopkins School in New Haven last fall. Two of her runners placed one-two in the Foot Locker regional’s cross-country freshman race.
    Asked if Samuelson had served as an inspiration for her when she was growing up, she said “Absolutely. . . . I read a book of hers — it’s still in print and is equally applicable to elite runners and joggers — when I was in high school, and at a camp I went to when I was in college, I loved to hear the cool stories one of her former coaches told about her. When I heard she was coming here for the first time, three years ago, I was in awe.”
    As for Samuelson, one of her goals this past weekend was to go sailing with Amanda Clark, which apparently she did, along with Brantley, who, before he got into running at the age of 13, was a sailor.    
    The last mile of the 6.2-mile race was dedicated before the race as “Joey’s Mile,” in honor of the late 1st Lt. Joseph Theinert, who was killed June 4, 2010, by an explosive device while on patrol in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
    Shelter Island school children lined that final mile with American flags. During pre-race remarks, Lieutenant Theinert’s mother, Chrys Kestler, thanked them and the community that had supported her family “since day one of Joe’s death.”
    She asked the runners to remember all the servicemen and women, past and present, with a prayer as they ran that mile. “There’s so much more we need to do for them,” she said.
    Shorter, in a separate conversation, seconded that. “I think it’s wonderful­ . . . any way that we can show appreciation for what our military does to preserve our way of life should be done. That’s why we’re free.”
    The camaraderie of Shelter Island, which Adipietro said was palpable that day, will continue at the Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Ore., in the coming two weeks. Cliff Clark, John Kenney, Shorter, Gubbins, and Samuelson will be among the spectators. In addition, Samuelson will be part of a Title IX celebration, leading fellow female Olympians in a 9K run in Eugene and at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the site of her 1984 victory in the first women’s marathon ever held.

With Reporting by Carrie Ann Salvi