One for the Ages: A Tribute to Bill Benson

When Bill Benson passed away on July 16th at the tender age of 97, the Runner’s Edge Main Street Mile race committee made the decision to honor him at the 12thannual event. Bill had been a long-time participant in the event and had a great fan in Pat LaFontaine.  

The hockey hall of Famer said, “Bill represented a spirit and enthusiasm that was contagious. He participated in almost 1,000 road races in his life and always made the people around him feel better.”

At this year’s finish on September 3rd in Farmingdale, the inaugural “Bill Benson Award” was presented to 89-year-old Bert Jablon as the oldest finisher of the race. We know that Bill Benson was smiling on us all.

There were an additional 478 finishers of this year’s event – a new race record – and duly noted by supreme race announcer, Terry Bisogno. He coaxed young, small, old, plump and lean across the finish line on a beautiful day that had originally been threatened by Tropical Storm Hermine. Conditions were perfect and some excellent times were set.

Sean Mahon posted the top time of the day. The 30-year-old from Merrick posted a time of 4:26.2. Boyd Carrington (age 43) of Amityville was exactly 10 seconds behind and Bill Buith of Garden City finished in 4:40.8.

Greg Sautner of PR Timing did a superb job of tracking all of the runners, including the few dozen youngsters who competed in the ¼-mile Kids Fun Run that kicked off the day. Bob Cook of Runner’s Edge said, “It’s always a treat to get the young ones out on the course. They get the feel of a race with their parents and grandparents cheering them to the finish line.”

Bill Benson & Pat LaFontaine

Lianne Farber of Sacramento, CA turned in a blistering time of 4:42.3 to finish 4th overall and win the women’s division. She was followed by Jen Dagan of Farmingdale in 4:59.2 and Victoria Kornieva-Robitaille of Amityville, who finished in 5:00 flat.

Noteworthy finishers included a couple of members of the Farmingdale High School track team. The entire team’s entry was sponsored by Dr. Walter Priestley, a chiropractor based in Farmingdale. His son, Alex finished in 16th place overall in 4:59.3. He was only edged out by teammate Alex Blanco who turned in a time of 4:54.4.

Local firefighter Chris Crean addressed the crowd at the awards ceremony at the Farmingdale Gazebo and talked about the importance of giving back to your community. He will wear full fireman turn-out gear and compete in the Tunnels-to-Tower 5K race on September 25th in New York City.

Following the awards ceremony, all participants were invited next door for a buffet and beverages at The Nutty Irishman. The crowd was entertained by the classic rock stylings of The SPITunes, and they participated in raffles and auctions.

The race committee of Bob Cook, Mark Leff, Mindy Davidson, Eric Bressler and Craig Gluf once again did superb work. Of particular note was the extra work of Alice Leff who jumped in when her husband suffered an injury in an endurance event held just weeks before the Main Street Mile.

Sponsors of the event included Saucony;  Dr. Larry Lembo; Horizon Paper; Carman, Callahan & Ingham LLP; Dr. Walter Priestley; MAX 103; Carter, DeLuca, Farrell & Schmidt LLP; Cisco Systems; The Nutty Irishman; Arizona Iced Tea, Babylon Bike Shop  and Polar. Just a few of the amazing photos provided by Joel Harris and Nicole from Island Photography are posted on our “Galleries” page.