Skip to main content

Shelter Island 10K a Race for Generations

Fri, 05/31/2019 - 15:13
A ‘circle of legends’ for the 40th anniversary
M.E. Adipietro, holding her “first Shelter Island female finisher” trophy from 1994, and Tess Kilb, a longtime volunteer, were among those who attended a 40th Shelter Island 10K exhibit at the Shelter Island Gazette Sunday.

M.E. Adipietro, its race director for twoscore years, likes to call the Shelter Island 10K, which soon will celebrate its 40th anniversary, a “generational race,” for this year’s field will in some instances number grandparents, parents, and grandchildren.

“It remains a special race for most people,” Adipietro said at the opening of an S.I. 10K exhibit Sunday at the Shelter Island Gazette. “It’s a beautiful course, and we — the board, the sponsors, and volunteers — have done really well in increasing the numbers and in keeping the spirit of it alive, though because there are 10 races every weekend now we have to put more effort into getting the word out.”

More than 1,000 had registered as of that day, she said in reply to a question, though entries will be accepted up until 4 p.m. on race day, June 15. Often the field numbers 1,500. 

“We had 726 the first year,” said Cliff Clark, who founded the race in 1980, with Jack Fath and John Strode. “And that was a Long Island record.”

Shelter Island has always “combined the excitement of an elite field with ‘the everyday runner,’ ” it says at one point in this year’s race guide — a warm admixture that this writer, who never met a runner he didn’t like, can testify lifts his spirits each year.  

Adipietro and her husband, Dr. Frank Adipietro, had begun running Shelter Island, she said, in the 1980s, having come down from Boston. Soon they were renting and volunteering, and then, in 1990, having moved out from New York City, buying. When Clark passed the baton to her at the turn of the millennium, Adipietro and her husband ran with it. 

And, as he had done before them, the Adipietros continued to gild the lily. “Frank’s passion, since growing up in Brooklyn,” she said, “has been running — he’s been a big sponsor of the elite runners over the years, and Harry Hackett, and the Bridgehampton National Bank [the race’s presenter] too.” 

Over the years Shelter Island has attracted Frank Shorter, Grete Waitz (the first woman to run a marathon in under two and a half hours), Jeff Galloway, Yobes Ondieki, Simon Ndirangu (whose course-record time of 28 minutes and 37 seconds in 2012 still stands), Meb Kef­lezighi (whose 29:59 in 2015 set a masters record), Kim Jones, Jon Sinclair, Keith Brantly, Bill Rodgers, and Joan Benoit-Samuelson.

Hailed as “a circle of legends,” Benoit-Samuelson, Rodgers, Jones, Sinclair, Brantly, Amby Burfoot (who won Boston in 1968), George Hirsch (founder of the New York Marathon), and Kyle Heffner and Benji Durden, marathoners who would have represent

ed the United States in the 1980 Olympics had not the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Games, are all to run at Shelter Island’s 40th. Durden was the seventh-ranked marathoner in the world in 1982. 

“Harry’s got Kim and Jon and Benji and Kyle, and Frank always has Bill and Joanie — he’s happy to bring them,” the race director said. Brantly, a top international and national competitor in long-distance races, from the mile on up, “is a great personality. He’s coming back, and Amby Burfoot, a runner-writer. . . . I think they’ll all be interviewed in East Hampton at 104.7 the Friday before the race.”

And the field will include top African-born runners, often Kenyans and Ethiopians, as well, runners who often finish at the top. 

“If someone has run really fast, a 29-minute 10K, say, we’ll give them some travel money,” said Adipietro, “but generally we don’t pay appearance money because we want to make all the money we can for our charities. The prize money they may win here is an incentive, of course. If they break the course record, it’s doubled. This year, but only this year, we’ll have a ‘masters shootout,’ for 40-and-over runners in our 40th year. We’ve increased the money there, from $300 to $700, I think . . . to honor the masters.”

“You can’t beat our course — it’s just gorgeous, and it’s great because it’s challenging,” said a longtime assistant of Adipietro’s, Tess Kilb, whose mother, Diane, said Adipietro, had been one of the original volunteers, “the real workers,” along with Jackie Tuttle and Clark’s wife, Tish.

“You go downhill in the beginning,” Adipietro said, “and then around the golf course and down Shore Road, it’s beautiful, and then, at about four and a half miles, you begin a slow uphill incline to the finish. . . .”

“And just when you need people cheering, they’ll be there . . . in Dering Harbor,” Kilb said.

The last mile, from mile five to six, was dedicated in 2010 in memory of Lt. Joseph J. Theinert, “an important community member, a soz, brother, student, friend, and, ultimately, war hero,” Adi­pietro writes in the race guide. “As you run past the flags along ‘Joey’s Mile,’ please remember him and all our heroes.”

Latest Stories

Sep 20, 2019 | 8:57 am
Sep 19, 2019 | 3:58 pm