Robert Carasiti’s weekends tend to be full of GORUCK adventures, grueling obstacle course races designed by former Green Berets and Navy SEALs that can last upward of 18 hours. When he comes to work the following week—he is the director of education at the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center in Riverhead—he tends to share his weekend memories with fellow co-workers.
His stories during simple lunch conversation have blossomed into a full-fledged event called The Titan Run, an obstacle course 5K that will be held Saturday, September 6, at Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck in Center Moriches.
Carasiti’s tales got the attention of co-worker Connie Pellechia, 47, of Speonk, who is manager of guest services at the Riverhead aquarium. Pellechia pitched the idea of creating their own race to Carasiti, who at first thought it would be a long shot. But after talking about it, their ideas have now become a reality.
“I thought he would be the perfect business partner,” Pellechia said. “He’s a sponsored athlete, he does these very intense GORUCKs, which are very, very elite races. I’m very good on the business end, I know a lot of business contacts, so because of the dynamics of our relationship, it works out well. His strengths are not mine, and my strengths are not his.”
The two came up with the idea of The Titan Run, not only to satisfy the needs of people who enjoy obstacle course races—the duo are pretty sure it’ll be the first of its kind on the South Shore of Long Island—but also for charitable reasons. Part of the proceeds of the race will go to host Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck, whose mission is to help children and young adults, ages 6 to 21, with both physical and developmental disabilities achieve equality, dignity, and maximum independence through a safe and quality program of camping, recreation, and education in a summertime environment.
Another portion of the funds will go to the 296 Project, which promotes, advocates for, funds, and otherwise supports art and expressive therapies for combat veterans as a therapeutic means to lessen the severity of post-traumatic stress disorder and/or traumatic brain injuries.
Carasiti, 36, of East Moriches, who graduated from Westhampton Beach High School in 1996, is a sponsored athlete through the 296 Project and said that his original calling may have been to enlist in the military. But since he never did, he does his best to give back to veterans any way he can.
“I’ve always had a predisposition for people who have served our country,” Carasiti explained. “I always think, maybe had I gone into the military, I would have had a different life.
“I’ve had the opportunity to meet people that have gone in that direction, and the idea of potentially giving back to them is appealing to me,” he continued. “PTSD affects some of the toughest men in the country. We lose 22 vets a day to suicide due to PTSD—that’s got to change. It’s a real psychological battle no human should really ever go through.”
Carasiti and Pellechia weren’t sure at first if Camp Pa-Qua-Tuck was going to be big enough to hold the type of course they wanted to build, but when they visited the camp for the first time a few weeks ago, it was love at first sight. The majority of the hilly terrain is in the woods, where natural trails have made it much easier for Carasiti, who is building most of the obstacles by hand, to create a harder-than-average course. And the camp, Carasiti and Pellechia said, has been very accommodating.
The obstacles include cargo nets, a number of variations of climbing walls, balance beams, different variations of monkey bars, hay bale hills, and rope swings.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Carasiti said. “I didn’t want it to be basically a 5K with a few obstacles here and there, otherwise it’s not really an obstacle course.”
Both Carasiti and Pellechia plan on having two races a year—they’re aiming to have their second race in mid-May. Depending on how well their first couple of races go, they plan on having another run upstate and then another possibly out of the New York area. Their focus right now, though, is on their inaugural event in September.
Around 650 people have currently signed up for the race, but Carasiti and Pellechia would like to see 2,000 participants at their first event—since they’re sending out people in waves, the trail and the camp can withstand that number of people. The first wave, deemed the “Elite Heat” for serious competitors, is scheduled to get things started promptly at 9 a.m., with the following waves in half-hour intervals.
There will also be a number of retail vendors at the race, such as Tattoo Lou’s, and a local CrossFit will be on hand to do presentations before the race. There will also be concession stands and a Kids Fun Run, complete with obstacles, which will begin around noon the same day of the race.
To register for the race, or for more information, go to www.thetitanrace.com.