Running a marathon can be an emotional experience—and that was certainly true for Aaron Mendelsohn on Saturday.The 39-year-old from New York, in his first appearance at the seventh annual Hamptons Marathon in East Hampton, broke the tape with a winning time of 2:50:27 (6:31 mile pace). But he had more on his mind than his time and where he placed as he traversed the 26.2-mile course, which began and ended in Springs, under sunny skies.
After the race, he spoke about how gratifying it was to win, despite being on the cusp of his 40th birthday, and he also spoke about the charities associated with the race, and how benefiting them was part of his motivation to enter. But most notably, he became emotional when speaking about his experience at the Boston Marathon in April—where he was an up-close witness to the bombing and the devastation it caused to so many people.
Mendelsohn had completed the Boston Marathon and was still near the finish line with his older brother, Bruce, went the bombs went off. Together, he said, they helped the injured and worked on getting other people in the area to safety.
“It just really kind of inspired me to keep running for those people who never finished,” Mendelsohn said after the race, when asked about his motivation to compete in marathons. “It just brings back memories of that, running in this. I was thinking about it a lot when I was running this marathon.”
Mendelsohn, a Manhattan resident whose parents own a home in Quogue, became a marathon winner for the first time, in what was his fifth attempt, beating out second-place finisher Norman Bradley, 34, of Hoboken (3:01:37).
“I will probably never win a marathon again,” Mendelsohn said. “At 39, it’s great.”
Matthew LoPorto, 29, of New York was third (3:01:56), followed by Andrew Wilson, 44, of Greenlawn (3:02:59); James Rivera, 25, of New York (3:06:13); and Bryan Krahel, 33, of Huntington (3:07:54).
Deanna Culbreath, 34, of New York was the top female finisher in 3:09:00 (7:13 pace), and was seventh overall. Garrett Campbell, 23, of Hoboken was eighth (3:09:37); Timothy Armstrong, 42, of New York was ninth (3:11:03); and Nick Damenti, 52, of Setauket rounded out the top 10 with a time of 3:12:18.
In the half-marathon, Ryan Hagan, 22, of Sag Harbor took the top prize, finishing in 1:11:05 (5:26 pace). Deliliah DiCrescenzo, 30, of New York was the top female and was fourth overall, in 1:15:05 (5:44). Christopher Guerrero, 22, of the Bronx was second in the half-marathon, in 1:11:55, followed by Cusack, 23, of Sag Harbor, who was third, in 1:14:41. DiCrescenzo was fourth, followed by Jimmy Davis, 36, of Kailua, Hawaii (1:16:59); Troy Squire, 39, of Brooklyn (1:19:04); Andrew Bellet, 24, of Wynnewood, Pennsylvania (1:22:29); David McDonald, 47, of Mount Kisco (1:24:52); Robert Jahn, 33, of New York (1:25:18); and Stephen Szycher, 37, of New York, who rounded out the top 10, in 1:26:48.
DiCrescenzo was the only winner to break a course record on Saturday, and she did so in dominant fashion. Her time shaved more than 10 minutes off the previous record of 1:26:08, set three years ago by Bridget McKenna. The men’s half-marathon record of 1:09:37, set last year by Christian Thompson, still stands. In the marathon, Oz Pearlman’s time of 2:37:50, set in 2008, is still the best time, while Hampton Bays resident Jessica Allen’s 2009 time of 2:56:14 also hasn’t been bested.
Culbreath became a marathon winner for the first time on Saturday, and while it was her first time competing in the Hamptons Marathon, she is quite familiar with the event, having worked as a volunteer on the course in the last two years. Culbreath’s fiance ran the half-marathon last year.
“I just really love the course, and [race founders Diane Weinburger and Amanda Moszkowski] are really lovely people, so I wanted to support a local race,” Culbreath said after the race. Culbreath did her first marathon in 2009 in Miami, in hopes that her ailing grandmother, who lived in the area, would get to watch her compete. Culbreath said her grandmother died two weeks before the Miami race. “She never got to see me, but she’s with me every time I run,” she said.
Hagen, the half-marathon winner and a native of Sterling, Virginia, graduated from Virginia Tech in the spring and came to the East End in June to work at the Gubbins Running Ahead fitness apparel store in Southampton. Hagen and college roommate Jason Cusack—who finished third in the half-marathon and also is living in Sag Harbor for the summer and working with Hagen at Gubbins—are both trying to qualify for the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, next June. They are members of the Gubbins Distance Project running team, which is giving them a chance to live and train in the area while working at the store.
DiCrescenzo said she was using the half marathon as part of her training for the New York City Marathon in November. And while it was her first try at a half marathon, she’s certainly not a stranger to big time competition, having competed in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Trials in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. DiCrescenzo also represented the U.S. at the World Cross Country Championships in 2009 and 2013.
Fifteen minutes after the runners in the marathon and half-marathon took off, 261 people participated in the 5K race. John Fisher, 22, of Middletown, Connecticut, was the winner, in 18:49 (6:04 pace), followed by Robert Maier, 27, of Montauk (18:58), and Marissa Smith, 26, of New York, who was the top female, in 19:09.
Complete results for both the Hamptons Marathon, Half-Marathon and 5K, including age group winners, are at flrrt.com.
As has become custom, both the half- and full marathons sold out this year, in early June, with 1,497 runners competing in the half and 335 competing in the full. Moszkowski and Weinburger purposely cut off registration at a certain point.
“We try to be very cautious in managing our numbers so we don’t have too many runners on the roads,” Moszkowski said. “We were very happy with how it worked out this year. We sell out earlier and earlier each year.”
Project Most, a not-for-profit after-school program in East Hampton, and Southampton Hospital are the main beneficiaries of the Hamptons Marathon, which also supports the Springs School and East Hampton PAL. The 5K benefits the East Hampton Day Care Center. To date, the marathon has donated more than $225,000 to the local community.
Moszkowski and Weinburger highlighted JetBlue as a major sponsor, one that has been with them since the inaugural race, and they added that Equinox Fitness Clubs have been a big sponsor in the last two years as well. This year, they provided post-race massages to the runners in their Equinox Experience tent. The race organizers added that the local Boys Scouts and Girls Scouts, Springs School students, and East Hampton Youth Football players all donated their time to help on Saturday. They said that the staff at the Springs School as well as the East Hampton Town Police were also instrumental in making the race a success.
Weinburger and Moszkowski added that they are hoping to start a new race next year, a half-marathon in Bridgehampton to benefit the Bridgehampton Museum (formerly Bridgehampton Historical Society). The event would take place in May.