East Meadow’s Eisenhower Park was abuzz with excitement this past weekend for what was both the starting and finishing line for the Jovia Long Island Marathon.
The weather was warm and sunny as some 1,900 participants lined up for their races.
Warming up in windbreaker wrappers and lightweight sweatsuits near the starting point not long after sunrise, the runners were exuberant, yet relaxed. Winning the race was less important than what they had already gained: endurance sufficient to run a 13-mile half marathon or a 26-mile full one. And then, of course, there was the wide fellowship of other runners.
Nearly 500 people ran in the full marathon, with another 1,400 looking to compete in the short race on Sunday. Spectators held signs and flowers, many yelling words of encouragement to the passing runners. The route started and ended in Eisenhower Park, but runners traversed outside to the surrounding communities as well.
Race director Corey Roberts was everywhere, greeting the athletes and answering questions. Nassau County Legislator Rose Walker, speaking from a temporary stage, recalled that the Long Island marathon started as the Earth Day Marathon at Roosevelt Raceway, directed by her late husband John.
Nassau County Parks commissioner Darcy Belyea, North Hempstead town supervisor Jennifer DeSena, and county legislator Tom McKevitt belted out words of encouragement as the start time approached.
Jordan Daniel, 28, of Westhampton, won the marathon portion with a time of 2 hours, 21 minutes. Jennifer Zopp, 38, of Westchester County, came in first for women with a time of 3 hours, 9 minutes.
–Mallory Wilson and Reine Bethany