Engstrom Sets New Course Record As Hundreds Come Out In Support Of 23rd Annual Ellen's Run
By Drew Budd
Southampton Press / East Hampton Press / 27east.com / Press Newsgroup
August 21, 2018
Mid-August is typically hot and humid, which can lead to some tough race conditions for the annual Ellen’s Run in Southampton Village each year, but conditions on Sunday morning for the 23rd version of the 5K were more fall-like than anything else, with some light rain and lower-than-average temperatures, perfect for avid runners.The ideal conditions led to some rather quick times, including a new course record for the second year in a row. Erik Engstrom, 20, a graduate of East Hampton High School who now attends the University of Massachusetts where he is a full-time runner for the school’s cross country and track teams, won the race in 15:39.97, surpassing Troy Taylor’s course record of 15:40.96 set last year. That makes it three times in the past four years that a new course record has been set—Nick Lemon set a new course record of 15:54 in 2015.
Proceeds from the race—which consistently sees more than 800 runners annually—benefit the Ellen Hermanson Foundation, which provides breast cancer education, support and research. After 13 years in East Hampton, Ellen’s Run was moved to Southampton in 2009 to coincide with the opening of the Ellen Hermanson Breast Center at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. Both the race and the Ellen Hermanson Breast Center at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital are named after race organizer Julie Ratner’s sister, Ellen Hermanson, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 1989. Hermanson, a journalist, sought to educate the public about the disease, the challenges its victims face, and resources that they and survivors could use. She died in April 1995 at the age of 42.
Ellen’s Run was only the third race of the summer for Engstrom, following the Shelter Island 10K and Montauk Mile. Engstrom is going into his junior year at UMass this fall.
“I figured I should test what shape I’m in, so that’s what this was. I guess it’s good,” he said following his win. “I went out a little fast like a 4:40 first mile, and then 9:50 at two miles.
“I haven’t done this race in a long time, but I’m sure if I had a guy right in front of me—I had [second-place finisher Dylan Fine] right there for a little while—but the last mile I was just trying to hold on. I didn’t feel that bad but definitely was pushing it.”
Dylan Fine, 21, of Water Mill and New York City, placed second overall in 16:16.34, followed by Carter Weaver, 16, who finished third in 17:12.10. Paige Duca, 21, of Montauk and Rockville Centre, placed fourth overall and was the women’s overall champion, finishing in 17:18.09. Duca, like Engstrom, is a collegiate runner, competing on the indoor and outdoor track teams and cross country team at Boston College. She mentioned that she had been getting up early in the morning so she didn’t have to train in hot, muggy conditions. But Sunday morning’s race conditions were “perfect,” she said.
“It’s been so bad, I can’t imagine what it’s been like up island and in the city. We’re pretty lucky out here.”
Duca added that she was hoping to finish closer to 17:00 but her finish was a “good starting point”and that she appreciates the cause of the race, which is to raise money to fight breast cancer—Duca’s mother Linda is a breast cancer survivor.
Debbie Merrick, 48, who resides in New Providence, New Jersey, and spends summers in Sag Harbor, returned this year and was the first breast cancer survivor to cross the finish line for the second year in a row. She finished in 20:54.02.
Billy Malone, 14, a runner on the Southampton cross country and track teams, rounded out the top five, crossing the finish line in 17:31.40. Carlos Lambarri Altamira, 26, finished sixth in 17:41.79; Omar Leon, 19, of East Hampton, finished seventh in 17:43.83; Kris Hedges, 38, placed eighth in 18:07.39; Artemi Gavalas, another Southampton cross country and track runner, placed ninth in 18:16.22; and Jennifer Donnelly, 27, cracked the top 10 and was the second female finisher in 18:21.19. Marielle Quintana, 29, was the next runner in, the third woman, at 18:27.89, with Southampton High School graduate and former runner Hannah Connolly-Sporing, now 21, finishing as the fourth female (12th overall) in 18:36.22. Tara Farrell, 39, of East Quogue, was the fifth female finisher (16th overall) in 18:54.42.
Full results can be found at iresultslive.com.
Through Ellen’s Run and other charitable events, Ratner is responsible for creating the breast cancer center at the hospital, funding both new equipment for early detection and Ellen’s Well, a program that Ratner started in 2000 that provides free psychological support to breast cancer patients and survivors.
Ratner said that there aren’t any new initiatives because the need remains the same.
“Our mission is to ensure that people get the best breast health care, so for us we’re always active, the need never dissipates,” she said. “There is new technology, new breakthroughs that are coming out every day and it’s really important that the Ellen Hermanson Breast Center stays on top of them and receives money. We also have Ellen’s Well, which provides direct services to those who are in need, both women and men, of different healing practices.”
With the date always the third Sunday in August, Ratner says Ellen’s Run will return for its 24th race in 2019.
“I wish we didn’t have to do this, which would mean that a cure has been found for breast cancer, but it doesn’t look like that’s happening, so we’ll be back,” she said.