A record-breaking performance and a come-from-behind victory were all part of the excitement in the sixth annual Hamptons Marathon and Half-Marathon in Springs on Saturday morning.
Kevin Starkes, 32, of New York City won the marathon in 2:38:26 (6:03 mile pace), pumping his fist in the air as he crossed the tape to celebrate what seemed an improbable victory until the very final stages of the 26.2-mile race. Starkes—who won the Hamptons Half-Marathon in 2008—was passed by Jeremy Adler, 31, also of New York, at the 13th mile and didn’t see Adler again for a long stretch. By the time he was approaching the 25th mile, Starkes had already assumed he’d finish second. But with a mile to go, he caught sight of Adler again and was able to catch and then pass him.
“It’s phenomenal,” a winded but excited Starkes said just moments after finishing, while he examined a thumb-sized blood blister on his foot, which he said started causing him pain at mile four. “It’s just really unbelievable.”
Both Starkes’s comeback effort and time were impressive, although his finish was not enough to set a new course record. Oz Pearlman’s time of 2:37:50, set in 2008, is still the best.
Kelly Gillen, 30, of New York was the first female to cross the finish line in the marathon, taking seventh overall in 3:08:31 (7:12). It was Gillen’s first appearance in the Hamptons Marathon, and she said that she enjoyed the course but added it was hillier than she anticipated. Gillen did not threaten the female course record of 2:56:14, set in 2009 by Hampton Bays resident Jessica Allen.
Rounding out the top 10 in the marathon were Shaun McGrath, 33, of Lynbrook (2:52:18, 6:35); Fletcher Gregory, 27, of New York (3:03:49, 7:01); Bill Lyons, 37, of Lone Tree, Colorado (3:08:07, 7:11); Mark Thompson, 49, of Mamaroneck (3:08:20, 7:11); Gillen; Greg Loeffert, 30, of White Plains (3:11:24, 7:18); Gregg Lemos-Stein, 44, of New York (3:11:38, 7:19); and Nicholas Damenti, 51, of Setauket (3:12:27, 7:21).
Complete results, including age group winners, can be found at flrrt.com.
Before Starkes, Gillen and their fellow marathoners crossed the finish line, a new course record was set in the half-marathon. Christian Thompson, 24, of Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, blazed past the competition in the 13.1-mile race in what was his first-ever effort in a half-marathon, finishing in 1:09:37. He beat the course record of 1:12:58 set by Jimmy Lynch in 2007, the inaugural year.
Sarah Chase, 32, of New York was the top female in the half-marathon, taking 21st overall in 1:29:29. Chase finished second in the Hamptons half-marathon last year to Veronica Jackson, 31, of New York, and said taking the top spot this year was satisfying. “When I came in second last year, I knew I wanted to come back this year and win it,” she said.
Chase, who runs for Saucony (they provide her with running equipment and sneakers) said the Hamptons Marathon is her favorite because of the scenery because it is well organized. “They do an amazing job,” she said of the marathon staff. Chase added that she used the Hamptons Half-Marathon as a tune-up in her training for the upcoming Philadelphia Marathon.
A familiar local face was the second female in the half-marathon—Sinead Fitzgibbon, 42, of Sag Harbor finished in 1:32:37 and was 26th overall. The women’s half-marathon record of 1:26:08, set two years ago by Bridget McKenna, still stands.
Rounding out the top 10 in the half-marathon were: Ross McGraw, 26, of New York (1:13:41); Pat Jeffers, 24, of Jersey City (1:15:58); Chris Koegel, 29, of Malverne (1:16:52); John Honerkamp, 26, of New York (1:17:59); Matt Duelka, 25, of Glendale (1:20:47); Bobby Cameron, 40, of Shirley (1:22:58); Robert Mohr, 26, of New York (1:23:09); Robert Jahn, 32, of New York (1:24:03); and Kris Hedges, 32, of New York (1:26:02).
Many other runners felt just as triumphant crossing the finish line as the elite performers did, and it was evident on Saturday as people raised their arms in celebration or joined hands with fellow runners while crossing the tape. In the marathon, 35 percent of the runners were competing at that distance for the first time, while more than 600 of the half-marathon entrants were competing in their first-ever half-marathon. A total of 314 runners finished the marathon, 1,329 finished the half, and 231 did the 5K. Nine countries and 26 states (including Washington, D.C.) were represented on race day.
Race director Amanda Moszkowski, who founded the Hamptons Marathon along with Diane Weinberger, said the race went smoothly once again this year, and she credited the local staff of volunteers.
“We are blessed with a fabulous group of volunteers,” she said. “Most are local, with the East Hampton Boy Scouts, the Springs Booster Club and the Springs School girls tennis team. We have the support of the East Hampton Police as well as the entire staff and administration of the Springs School, so we feel quite fortunate.”
Locals were well represented in the Hamptons 5K, which was brought back after debuting last year. Drew Falkenhan, 24, of East Hampton won the 5K in 17:11 (5:32 pace), followed by Justin Kulchinsky, 39, of East Hampton (17:30, 5:38), and Neil Falkenhan, 28, also of East Hampton (18:36, 5:59). Max Zavidow, 14, of Hillsdale was fourth, in 20:10 (6:30), and Shari Klarfeld, 31, of Plainview was fifth overall and was the first female, in 20:11 (6:30). Her finish was even more impressive considering she is more than six months pregnant with her second child.
While the majority of runners in the marathon and half-marathon were from out of town, several locals did take center stage, most notably Amagansett resident Mike Bahel and his fiancee, Montauk resident Cheryl Keller, who were married later that day. Bahel, who owns the Body Tech gym in Amagansett, ran in the full marathon, and Keller ran in the half-marathon, with a wedding veil, and later celebrated their wedding in the afternoon. Their entire bridal party participated in the race as well, and Lululemon in East Hampton outfitted both Bahel and Keller for the race.
“It was something to see, and we were so happy to be part of their day,” Moszkowski said.
Sponsors for the Hamptons Marathon include: JetBlue Airways, Equinox Fitness, Gubbins Running Ahead, Hampton Jitney, 27east.com, Brightroom Photography, Vassilaros Coffee, Thompson Ferries, New Balance, Heddings Property Group, Southampton Hospital, Think Thin, and WEHM radio. Proceeds from the marathon and half-marathon are divided between Southampton Hospital and Project Most, and proceeds from the 5K go to the East Hampton Day Care Center.