A Quick Quartet

In their buildup phase
Three of the four middle-distance runners who are, under the Gubbins Running Ahead banner, expected to dominate the road races here this summer and fall are, from left, Will McFall, Owen Dawson, and Ryan Hagen. The other member of the quartet is Shawn Roberts.

   The Gubbins Running Ahead stores here are high-energy places, and Gubbins’s four new salesmen fit the bill nicely.
    Running under the Gubbins Distance Project team banner, the four — Owen Dawson, an all-American 800 runner from Penn State, Ryan Hagen, a second-team all-American from Virginia Tech, Shawn Roberts, a two-time all A.C.C. runner from Georgia Tech, and Will McFall, an all-Ivy 800 runner from Cornell — are expected to pretty much dominate whatever races they may enter here this summer.
    Roberts made his debut by easily winning the Bonac on Board to Wellness 5K recently, and Dawson has won both 5Ks he’s entered — at Southampton and, last week, at Sayville.
    Asked why she hadn’t taken Dawson to Shelter Island, his employer, Barbara Gubbins said, “He doesn’t run 10Ks.”
    “For years,” she said when asked how she and her husband, Justin, had come to put the team together, “it’s been really hard for us to get runners to work for us — there’s such a small pool out here. Other stores have pipelines into the colleges. Bryn Mawr Running, for instance, gets all its workers from Villanova.”
    “So, this past winter, I contacted coaches in the Ivies, and the A.C.C., and at the N.C.A.A. nationals. They’re all middle-distance runners. They’ll be training together and working for us for a year, after which they can decide what they want to do, whether they want to stay or go on and do something else. . . . Their times are great. Owen ran a 3:59 in the Penn Relays, Ryan has run a 4:02, Shawn’s done a 4:03, I think, and Will a 4:08. I’m taking them all to a road mile in Mastic Beach on June 29. In the fall, they’ll run at Van Cortlandt . . . we’re going to enter them in the 4-by-1,500 in next year’s Penn Relays. . . .”
    During a brief conversation at the Gubbins New Balance store last Thursday with Dawson, Hagen, and McFall — Roberts hadn’t come in yet — when asked what exactly he liked about running, Dawson, who majored in kinesiology, said, matter-of-factly, “Winning.”
    Hagen, who recently graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in health, nutrition, foods, and exercise, said, “From a noncompetitive standpoint, it doesn’t take much to run, just some sneakers and shorts . . . you’re in nature and you’re moving, which is what we’re supposed to do.”
    McFall, an applied economics major who has played basketball, said, “In basketball you need a team, but in running you can get out on your own and also be a member of a team.”
    The four, who are living in Sag Harbor, and who pair up in shifts at Gubbins, run the trails there either before or after work.
    “We’re averaging about 40 miles per week now — we’re in our buildup phase,” Dawson said. “By mid-July we’ll be up to 70.”
    Gubbins said the four are now participating in the weekly distance runs that set off from the New Balance store in the Reutershan Parking Lot at 8 Sunday mornings. A lot of the some 35 to 50 attendees were training for the Hamptons Marathon in the fall, she said, “though everyone is welcome. This past Sunday we did a 7-miler, to Indian Wells Beach and back, and a 9-miler, out Bluff Road and up Hand’s Lane.”
    Asked if her new employees took it slow, Gubbins laughed. “Their pace for the 9-miler was 6:08! Diane [Weinberger, one of the marathon’s directors] wanted to take a picture of them, but they went out so fast she couldn’t. Now you see them, now you don’t!”