“You got a stop watch?” John Conner asked Bill Herzog at the starting line of the Miss Amelia’s Cottage 2-mile road race in Amagansett Sunday morning.
When Herzog nodded, Conner said, “Can I use it?” Yes, he could, said Herzog, who was there to see how some of the young runners he coaches fared. “I hope it works,” he said to an observer. “I got it 25 years ago at Radio Shack.”
This 2-mile race, about half of which is down Town Lane, is a favorite of kids, and of adults whose fast twitch fibers remain intact.
Before it began, near the Amagansett railroad station, Conner recalled the year in which the train held up about half the field near the finish at Windmill Lane before swinging into their final kicks. On Sunday, the train arrived at the station a few minutes before the small but plucky group of runners took off up Old Stone Highway.
Amid the blasts of the train’s horn, Conner called out to the some 30 participants, “It’s left, at Side Hill Lane, left, onto Town Lane, left, at Windmill Lane, and a sharp downhill left, onto the Amagansett Historical Society’s grounds.”
Herzog had hoped Ashley West, who’s soon to be a freshman at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, and Dana Cebulski, who competed in the state cross-country meet last fall and who is to attend a running camp in Liberty, N.Y., this week, would be there, along, perhaps with Dana’s brother, Adam. But they were all no-shows. “Dana’s tired,” Herzog said, rolling his eyes. “And Ashley . . . I don’t know where she is. Maybe she’ll get out of a car at the last minute.”
It was learned later that West had to go to work at 10 and had to run 11 miles that day as part of Susquehanna’s cross-country training regimen.
Herzog said he wished Erik Engstrom, who has been a regular attendee at all the summer races, and who has done well in them, would add some weight. “He’s almost transparent,” the veteran coach said as Engstrom, an incoming East Hampton High School freshman, who was walking by, smiled.
This fall’s boys cross-country team would be quite good, Herzog predicted, “what with all these ninth graders — Erik, Jackson Rafferty, Randy Santiago, if he’s still in the district, T.J. Paradiso, and Leo Panish — mixed in with the kids Kevin Barry’s already got.”
However, things could well go south for a number of high school sports, he added, if Springs School seventh and eighth graders were no longer able to be on East Hampton Middle School teams in cross-country, track, football, wrestling, lacrosse, and tennis.
A group of Springs parents are engaged in trying to raise by month’s end the $35,000 the Springs School Board cut from its budget last spring that would have enabled the athletic alliance to continue.
A 39-year-old, Justin Kulchinsky, wound up winning the 2-miler, as he had last year, in 10 minutes and 52 seconds. James Consiglio, 51, who won it in 2009, was the runner-up, in 11:33, outkicking the 14-year-old Engstrom (11:37) in the final yards. Sharon McCobb won among the women, and was fifth over all, in 13:26.
Among the other front-runners were Craig Brierley, who had come with his young daughter, Julia, and Dan Kulchinsky, 62, Justin’s father, who was seventh in 13:49.
The younger Kulchinsky, who owns the Mayfair Rocks jewelry store in East Hampton Village, was a top triathlete here some years ago, and still remains competitive despite breaks in training. His father had argued on the eve of the Montauk Sprint triathlon, which Mayfair Rocks sponsored, that he had to do it, and so he did, said Kulchinsky, finishing a credible 13th “racing against guys who’ve been doing this for 20 years. . . . Two years ago was the first time I’d done it [the Lighthouse Sprint] in 16 years — I was eighth. Then I got engaged, and then I got married.”
He had clocked his first mile that day, he said, in 5:16. “I was pretty much racing against my heart rate.”
Mayfair Rocks, he added, was among the stores that had donated gift certificates to the Springs Booster Club’s fund-raising effort.
“I’m very impressed by the kids running in this race,” said Paul Fiondella, who laid out the Hamptons marathon and half-marathon courses. “It would be a shame if they can’t raise the money to recombine sports, but if they can’t, they should start running clubs.”
“You know, people come out here in the summer for two reasons,” he continued. “One is to drink, which they do in Montauk, and two, because this is a nice, beautiful place where you can exercise. I do a 10-mile run twice a week, and I’m seeing many more runners out on the roads than I ever have.”
“And more bikers too — more than ever,” interjected McCobb.
“Exercise is one of the prime reasons people come out here — the town needs to get that into its head,” Fiondella said.
Conner put in a plug for Mike Bahel’s “Pump And Run” competition, which was to have been held yesterday afternoon at Atlantic Avenue Beach.
Competitors were to do as many bench presses as they could, he said, before setting out on a run along Bluff Road spanning the Atlantic Avenue and Indian Wells beaches. The bench press reps, valued at so many seconds per, were to be subtracted from one’s run time, he added. “You see some of the best athletes in town there, big guys, but often the smaller, quicker ones win out. It’s a lot of fun.”
Asked if it were an open competition, Conner said that weigh-ins before the competition began leveled the playing field.
“You’re embarrassed first,” quipped Beth Jordan.