Although skies were overcast last Friday morning, they did not dampen the spirits of more than 500 participants in the Independence Day Run hosted by the Bellmore Striders running club.
The event was held for the first time 32 years ago in honor of Matthew Warkala, a former Striders member and Mepham High School alumnus who died of brain cancer. Now hundreds of runners race the course through Bellmore to commemorate Warkala and the Fourth of July.
Festivities began at 8 a.m. in downtown Bellmore with the one-mile run for children, ages 12 and under. The four-mile run was open to all athletes, ages 13 and older, and began at 8:30 a.m.
According to Finish Line Road Race Technicians, Inc., 566 runners finished the four-mile race. Robert Molke, a 23-year-old from New York City, finished first in a time of 19:34. Victoria Kornieva, a 27-year-old from Massapequa Park, was the first woman to complete the run in 24:27. Nicholas Gangi was the first Bellmorite to finish in 24:17.
Twenty-one children took part in the fun run this year. A local boy –– Isayah Contreras, 8, of North Bellmore –– won the race in 6:32.
Many children and adults dressed in patriotic garb for the run. From participants donning Captain America shirts and Uncle Sam hats to veterans wearing military gear, patriotism was on display in Bellmore.