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LI Marathon draws thousands, despite heavy rain

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Thousands of runners tore through wind and rain, and spectators lined the streets of Nassau County in panchos and holding umbrellas last Sunday — all facing the weather to take part in the new Long Island Marathon and experience the first reimagining it has seen in decades.

The NEFCU 2019 Long Island Marathon, named after its new title sponsor, included a new route that sent runners into local communities and business districts and through county parks.

Race Director Corey Roberts, of the Baldwin-based company Race Awesome, said that the goal of the changes was to make the race most exciting for runners and spectators.

Despite the rain, Roberts said that the cool weather would mean faster finishing times. Michele Walker, of Massaepqua, took first place of the women competing in the 10K. She said that the wind was in her face for almost a full mile, but the temperature was perfect.

Walker added that she was impressed with the changes Roberts made. “He’s done an amazing job,” she said. “And the communication has been great. He’s a top-notch race director. Hopefully this draws a lot of runners from out of state next year.”

The marathon’s winner was Dan Gargaro, of West Islip, and Alyssa Salese, of Huntington, was the first female finisher. Peter Hawkins, 54, of Malverne, remained the winner of the wheelchair marathon.

Winning the half-marathon was Erick Obdulio Chavez Chox with Lori Brown as the first female finisher. And Patrick Smyth placed first in the 10K race and Michele Walker, of Massapequa, finished first out of the women competing.

The weekend also included 5K, 1K and kids’ races as well as the first Long Island Health and Fitness Expo, a food truck festival and a partnership with a smartphone application that will allow spectators to live-track their friends and family members who are competing.

The marathon dates back to the inaugural Macombs Dam Park Marathon in the Bronx in 1958. That race was later renamed the Cherry Tree Marathon, but continued to be run in the Bronx until 1970, when it moved to Central Park. It was later named the Earth Day Marathon, and eventually moved from Manhattan to Roosevelt Raceway, and then to Eisenhower Park.

Roberts won the bid last spring to become the race director and thanked the Nassau County Legislature, the county Police Department and the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce, among others, who supported his vision to recreate the marathon.