Quick Times for Women at Firecracker 8K

“The women’s field was so fast," said Dennis Fabiszak.
Danielle Opatovsky won among the women and was sixth over all. Craig Macnaughton

Asked his name after he had crossed the Firecracker 8K finish line in Southampton Sunday morning, the winner said, “Jeff Ares.”

“Like the god?”

Yes, like the god, though, because of the heat, which he said he hated, he was feeling mortal at that moment, and in need of some water.

A 33-year-old New Yorker, Ares, who was third here last year, dueled with 17-year-old Gustavo Morastitla, a South­ampton High School senior, in the early going of the Lions Club’s 4.96-mile race, but took over for good at around the midway mark, and finished in 27 minutes and 6.31 seconds, the better part of a minute faster than Morastitla, a Gubbins Run­ning Ahead employee whose strong­est race, he said afterward, is the 3,200.

Moreover, Morastitla, who was also the runner-up last year (and seventh the year before that), said he’s aiming to win a county cross-country title in the fall and to win the county 2-mile race next spring.

Asked where he wanted to go to college, he said, “Anywhere but New York.”

“The women’s field was so fast,” said Dennis Fabiszak, the ultra-running executive director of the East Hampton Library — and the race’s 21st-place finisher, in 33:54.75. 

“It must have been like a walk in the park for you,” this writer said.

“A walk around the park,” Rosemary Lange interjected. “Dennis and I have run this course thousands of times. We could run it backward and blindfolded.”

Fabiszak was right: Six of the top 15 were women, led, in 32:11.20, by Danielle Opatovsky, a 24-year-old environmental consultant living in Cambridge, Mass., who ran for Shoreham-Wading River High School and Smith College. She was sixth over all. 

Tara Farrell, 38, a former Firecracker 8K winner who lives in East Quogue, was the runner-up to Opatovsky in 32:34.46, and was ninth. She was followed by 40-year-old Kelly Wickstrom (10th), 20-year-old Hannah Connolly-Sporing (11th), 22-year-old Shanna Heaney (13th), and 57-year-old Barbara Gubbins, who was 15th — thus topping the women’s 55-to-59-year-old division — in 33:30.50, which translated into a 6:45-per-mile pace.

Fabiszak was running in an Umstead 100 T-shirt. He will run that North Carolina race again next April in the hope of qualifying for Western States, “the equivalent in ultra running to the Boston Marathon, and probably harder to get into.”

Besides the women, there were some impressive kids at the Firecracker 8K, among them Max Pazera, 14, of Westhampton, Paige Mattingly, 11, of Southampton, and Pazera’s younger sister, Mia, who ran the 3-mile course. Mattingly’s first love is riding, she said. She’ll compete in children’s hunters at the Hampton Classic later this summer. Max said he might run cross-country at Westhampton Beach High in the fall.

Opatovsky, who grew up in Shoreham, has a connection to Southampton inasmuch as her grandfather Herb Goldsmith, she said, had coached its high school’s football team.

Coincidentally, she was told, Bob Budd, a veteran East Hampton coach, had said in a Star interview last week that Goldsmith had presented the Bonackers, following their 18-13 upset of the heavily favored Mariners in 1967, with the victory cake that was to have been savored by his players. “You guys deserve it,” Budd remembered Goldsmith saying as he delivered it. “It was the best cake I ever ate,” said Budd. “I’ve always remembered that — it was a classy thing that he did.”

Opatovsky, who once was a South­ampton Town lifeguard, swims too, “though, while I run competitively, I don’t swim competitively. Swimming’s more restful for me, more like meditation.”

According to the elitefeats.com website, the youngest 8K competitor that day was Luke Tumino, 9, and the eldest was Paul Travis, 94, who ran at a 9:23 pace.

The youngest competitor, at the age of 9, was Luke Tumino, who ran the course in 1 hour, 13 minutes, and 12.10 seconds. The eldest competitor, according to the Firecracker 8K’s timer, was 94. Craig Macnaughton and Jack Graves Photos
Paige Mattingly and Mia Pazera ran the 3-mile walk course, finishing well ahead of the others. Craig Macnaughton