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A race like no other in Oyster Bay

Four residents complete challenge of a lifetime

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Danielle Taylor was sleep- deprived, and the muscles in her legs were tightening, causing excruciating pain at 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, the final day of the race. She knew she had less than three hours before the next leg of the race, one that she had been running since Friday night. But the Oyster Bay resident wanted  to finish the 48- mile race, and she had to complete it in 48 hours.

So she filled up her bathtub with warm water and Epsom salt and submerged herself until the pain partially dissipated. She couldn’t stay in there too long, because she had to eat and sleep too. At 3 a.m. she would be running the course again.   

The 4x4x48 challenge involves running four miles every four hours for 48 hours. That’s four miles 12 times. It is broken down into 12 four-hour legs. The race was created in 2020 by former Navy SEAL David Goggins, an ultramarathon runner and triathlete, to raise money for charities. It begins on March 5, and can be run anywhere in the world. This year, 10 Oyster Bay residents  took part.

John Quirk, 54, organized the local 4x4x48 challenge, with a course from Beekman Beach to the Bayville Bridge. Quirk oversees the Oyster Bay Turkey Trot, a 5K Thanksgiving family fun run that raises money each year for local non-profits. He was disheartened when he realized that 40 percent fewer people participated in last year’s Turkey Trot race, due to Covid-19. The trot, which garnered $4,500, was short from 2019, when it raised $9,500.

The nonprofits received less this year, but Quirk said he also worries about the sustainability of area restaurants, especially since some have closed amid the pandemic. Seeing an Instagram post from Goggins, he arranged for the event to be run in Oyster Bay to help local food pantries and restaurants. Ten people participated, and four completed the challenge. They raised roughly $3,000.

Quirk, a runner, said that taking part in the challenge changed him. “It made me in my mind believe I could accomplish anything,” he said. “It pushed me mentally and physically.”

Taylor, 48, who completed the Long Island Marathon in 2019, said she found the 4x4x48 difficult to complete. But her son Andrew, 12, who runs for USA Track & Field and is on the Oyster Bay High School cross-country team, promised to run the second-to-last leg with her. That inspired Taylor to keep running, she said, as did the support from the community.

“There were people who ran a leg with us, and so many people cheering us on,” she said. “At the last leg there was even a drive-by, where people cheered for us, and when I came over the [Bayville] bridge there was music playing. One of the moms even had the kids chalk up the path with messages of support.”

Liam Gagliano, 25, had been training for an Ironman triathlon last year before Covid cancelled it. He’s Quirk’s neighbor, and agreed to join him in the race.

“I had run a couple miles the week before the challenge because when Ironman was canceled, I hit a training slump,” said Gagliano, a 2013 Oyster Bay High graduate. “I’m a goal-oriented person, and like challenges.”

He said he started cramping at first. “Waking at 2:30 a.m., your legs get going again, and your body takes over and so does your mind,” Gagliano said. “Mine said, ‘OK we’re doing this again.’ The motivator was to finish. Anyone who wants a challenge should do this.”

He prepared the day before, consuming electrolytes. One issue Gagliano said he didn’t take into consideration was how much running clothing he would go through. He had to launder some during the four-hour breaks, when all he wanted to do was sleep.

It was also hard to consume the needed nutrients. “My body was craving sleep and water,” he said. “John reminded me that I had to drink electrolytes, and he was right. That gave me a second wind halfway through.”

Justin Nakrin, 29, also of Oyster Bay, is a distance runner who competed at Oyster Bay High before graduating in 2009. He said he didn’t have much time to train for the 4x4x48.

“I heard about the race in the Herald and thought it sounded fun,” Nakrin said. “Running has always been a great passion. In all my years of running, the 4x4 is the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. My mind and body have never been pushed that far.”

Nakrin, like Taylor, said that the lack of sleep and recovery time raised the stakes. But he had an additional challenge the others didn’t have. “At the end of each leg, I always had to climb up a steep hill to get to my house,” he said. “That was hard.”

The snow flurries that fell early Saturday morning, the second day of the race, weren’t a welcome sight. “It’s harder to breath in cold weather,” Nakrin said. “I was able to do it, but it was definitely challenging.”

Gagliano said that he didn’t think he would be able to finish the event, adding that he was proud of his accomplishment. “Doing this was really cool,” he said.

Finishing the 4x4x48 filled Nakrin with pride, too. “I felt that completing this I completed something personal,” he said. “If a Navy SEAL can do it and I was able to do it, I pushed myself to finish.”

To donate to the Oyster Bay 4x4x48, go to https://events.elitefeats.com/ 4448pledge.