Back in February of 2005, during an awards luncheon for Long Island Track and Field, Mark Leff, a Senior Manager with Cisco Systems, and Bob Cook, owner of Runner’s Edge in Farmingdale, were talking about the possibility of putting on a race to support Companions in Courage Foundation (CIC), founded by Hockey Hall of Famer and former NY Islander and Ranger Pat LaFontaine. Cook’s thought was to put on a one-mile race. The belief was that it would be unique and would attract participants of all levels of capability.
By June of 2005, North Fork Bank and Dr. Larry Lembo, a Farmingdale Chiropractor, were among the very first sponsors. During Labor Day weekend of 2005, the very first Runner’s Edge Main Street Mile was held. It attracted 180 participants and $3,000 was raised for CIC.
A lot has changed since then. This great event has grown significantly and has become a Labor Day tradition in Farmingdale over the last 14 years and one of CIC’s most anticipated events of the year. It now attracts more than 500 participants each year. And over the last 14 years, the Runner’s Edge Main Street Mile has raised, cumulatively, more than $160,000 to support the great work that CIC does. And most impressively the Runner’s Edge Main Street Mile has been named “one of the top 10 things to do on Long Island for Labor Day weekend.”
A post-race fundraiser was once again held at The Nutty Irishman, which is located right near the finish line. Once again, more than 500 registrants took part and helped to raise a record amount of more than $18,000 to benefit CIC.
Much of the success was also due to the generosity of our sponsors that included Bob Cook, owner of Runner’s Edge and presenting sponsor. Major sponsors once again included title sponsor Cisco Systems. Additional sponsors included Farmingdale Chiropractor Dr. Larry Lembo, who has been a sponsor for all 14 years of the event, the Farmingdale-based law firm of Carman, Callhan and Ingham, the Melville-based law firm of Carter, Deluca, Farrell and Schmidt, Race Awesome who did an incredible job setting up a first-class finish line, The Nutty Irishman (who donated the post-race brunch), Saucony (who donated all race shirts), Stamford, CT-based Horizon Paper and Sunpower Solar Energy Systems. Syosset-based David Lerner and Associates (sponsor of the post-race fundraiser at The Nutty Irishman), Plainview-based B&G Group and 103.1 MAX FM were also major sponsors. The co-race directors were Bob Cook, owner of the Runner’s Edge and Mark Leff of Cisco Systems, along with the race committee of Mindy Davidson of the Greater Long Island Running Club and BOCES, Craig Gluf of Universal Photonics and Jim Johnson, Executive Director of Companions in Courage.
The race finish in front of the Farmingdale Firehouse and Village Hall, with the post-race awards ceremony taking place in back of The Nutty Irishman. There were a record 482 finishers in the race, 85 of them from Farmingdale, 27 from Massapequa and Massapequa Park and many from surrounding local towns such as Bethpage, Seaford, Wantagh and as far away as Waltham, MA, and Santa Monica, CA.
The event had strong local representation with other sponsors that included The Posillico Foundation, who sponsored 24 members of the Farmingdale Girls Volleyball Team; The Library Café of Farmingdale; Dr. Jospeh Ciaccio, DDS of Hewlett, NY; Babylon Bike Shop, Bill Romas, LMT; The Greater Long Island Running Club; Polar USA (who very generously donated heart rate monitors to the raffle); Arizona Iced Tea (who donated all the water at the finish line); Anton Media Group of Mineola; Mario’s Pizzeria in Massapequa; Stew Leonard’s and Stew Leonard’s Wine Shop in Farmingdale; Uncle Giuseppe’s in Massapequa; The Good Life in Massapequa Park; and
Palmers American Grill. There was also a kid’s fun run where the younger participants ran a quarter-mile up and down Main Street and received medals and free ice cream from McDonalds’s on Route 109 in Farmingdale. This year’s official race photographers were Island Photography of Port Washington and Joel Harris Photography of Mineola.
Pat LaFontaine, one of Hockey’s Top-100 all-time players and the founder of Companions in Courage Foundation said, “Over the last 14 years, we have watched this event emerge to become part of the fabric of Farmingdale’s Labor Day weekend. Our record number of participants, sponsors and funds raised this year to benefit local pediatric patients is a reflection on the village’s emergence as one of the great downtown’s on Long Island. I cannot thank the race committee, sponsors and of course, Bob Cook at Runner’s Edge enough for their vision and support.”
Dignitaries in attendance included Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino, Greg Carman from sponsor Carman, Callahan and Ingham, who is also the Deputy Town Supervisor, and Brian Harty, the Farmingdale Village Administrator.
Doing the race announcing was “the Voice of Long Island Racing” Terry Bisogno. Race timing was provided by PRTiming of New Paltz, NY. The finish line and much of the race logistics were provided by Corey Roberts of Race Awesome of Seaford.
Jim Johnson, executive director of Companions in Courage Foundation said, “It is so inspiring to see athletes of every level competing in this family-friendly event that benefits families in need. Our stellar race committee has assembled a group of very special sponsors and partners. Race Awesome makes sure that the finishers of our one-mile event cross the Finish Line under an arch that is worthy of an Ironman Triathlon. It’s just one more way to let everyone know just how special this event really is.”
The race was followed by the special fundraising event at The Nutty Irishman, who generously donated their space with a buffet for all the participants. The festivities also included a performance from the SPITunes, a band lead by Companions in Courage Executive Director Jim Johnson, and where Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joe Saladino played drums for one number. There was also the biggest raffle the event has ever held with numerous prizes that included a Schwinn Cruiser Bike donated by Babylon Bike, a Sony Playstation 4, a Race Awesome VIP pass for all 2019 races, and many other numerous prizes and gift certificates that also included autographed memorabilia from Pat LaFontaine. The MC for the event was The Wiseman of 103.1 MAX FM Radio who wore his infamous beanie. He brought so much energy to the event. He even played some hockey trivia games with some of the participants. The Main Street Mile once again produced great performances for both the men and women.
The men’s open division (under 40 years of age) was won by Joseph Grieco of Massapequa at 4:17, followed by Jonathan Afanador of Patchogue and Yean Jimienez of Union City, NJ.
In the men’s master’s division, Boyd Carrington of West Islip won with a time of 4:24, followed by Early Penney of Glen Head and David Lopez-Merols of East Northport.
In the women’s open division, Jen Dagan won with a time of 4:52. She was followed by Michelle Walker and Katie McGrath.
In the women’s masters division, Vivien Lim of Great Neck won with a time of 5:31. She was followed by Una Broderick and Heather Riddiough.
The wheelchair division was once again won by Peter Hawkins of Malverne with a time of 3:27.
The race’s oldest finisher once again was 90-year-old Bert Jablon of Syosset. In honor of Bill Benson, a well-known and loved member of the running community who was beloved at past Main Street Mile events and who passed away in 2016 at the age of 97, the “Bill Benson Memorial Award” award awarded to Bert Jablon as the race’s oldest finisher for the third straight year. Also a notable performance came from Virginia Guichard of Melville who finished with a time of 23:51 in the 80-84 year old division.
There were 83 Farmingdale residents who participated and fared well in the race. Top finishers included Noelle Cutter for the women and Patrick Smyth for the men. Other participants included Anthony Diaz, Franklin Diaz, Connor Fawcett, Steve Waters, Ronnie Vichman, Trevor Gayron, John Russo, Gavin Roger Rogers, William Hammond, Leann Nicholas, Joseph Picini, Stephen Kessler, Joseph Kessler, Eamonn McLoughlin, Briana Bellando, Christine Gayron, Christine Gilleran, Kelly Bergersen, Jack Brosnan, Matthew Oppedisano, Savanna Spakalik, Hannah Wenzel, Bill Coleman, Chris Unger, Misel Diaz, Elizabeth Kaufman, Michael Beriloff, Bill Pawlowski, Christopher Hunt, Dylan Coleman, Kelsey Gallagher, Kyra Akley, Toniann Penna, Madison Burke, Emily Hunt, Michael Oppedisano, Caleb Carle, Hailee Comple, Adam Bruzzese, Kimberly Fields, Julianne McNally, Aidan Hamilton, Charlotte Luquer, Meghan Kane, George Graf, Cuinn Sunde, Julian Farrell, Jessica Beriloff, Teigan Sunde, Joseph Beriloff, Alyssa Fields, Kelly Palandro, Walter Buser, Erin Smyth, Victoria Pizzarelli, Kimberly Warshauer, Tara Syrett, Alexa Pereira, Kyle Gayron, Meredith Beringer, Dana Oppedisano, Jennifer Labas, Natalyia Hammond, David Ladd, Patricia Fawcett, Tiffany Blatz, Helen Kappel,, Elizabeth Russo, Samantha Stanton, Isha Hamilton, Tara Coleman, Janet Dawson, Robert Ryan, Joslyn Larocio, Jessica Deluercio, Tiffany Ladd, Shawn Rogers, Vanessa Damo, Christine Hopper, Suhany Longarello, Joe Sokol and Frederick Benlein.
Massapequa and Massapequa Park residents were represented by 33 participants thatincluded Joe Grieco, Michele Walker, John McKeon, Thomas Augeri, Thomas Erdmann, James Porr, Erin Byrnes, Steven Simmons, Christopher Leon, Vincent Corrado, Alyse Batt, Kristina Leon, Patricia Hedderson, Christine Poplawski, Glenn Morse, Thomas Tuffy, Jonathan Fields, Lois Bentivegna, Judy Digiovanni, Norman Hershkowitz, Thomas Hilbert, Heather Riddiough, Jack Rhein, Frank Vereline, Liz Henry, John Nora, Tom Verlene, Michael Cors, Thomas Coll, Taylor Jonak, Kathy Rose, Seamus Vereline and Eileen Creaven.
There were also 60 participants from the RunStart program, which is sponsored by the Greater Long Island Running Club and Runner’s Edge to help introduce new runners how to train, with the Runner’s Edge Main Street Mile being one of the races the members of this program train to take part in. Debbie Blair and Bob Cook are to be thanked for their efforts with this group.
Proceeds from the race go toward CIC. As seen at www.cic16.org, CIC raises funds to build interactive playrooms in children’s hospitals throughout North America. Through innovative communications tools, these playrooms are meant to replace the isolation of a hospital with a connection to family, friends and celebrities during their hospital stay. This effort paves the way for their motto, “No child in the fight for life or health should ever have to go it alone.”
The rooms, dubbed “the Lion’s Den,” have state-of-the-art technology from Cisco Systems, Microsoft and Google. Patients receive a “smart” card when they check into the hospital, identifying them as members of a special community with unique privileges. The key is an ID device that allows each child to personalize their experience within the Lion’s Den room with activities such as web surfing, video game playing and video-conferencing. Lion’s Den playrooms in the NY area include one at Huntington Hospital, Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital at Columbia Presbyterian in NYC, Maria Fareri Chidren’s Hospital in Valhalla, NY, Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC, and the most recent one being at Cohen’s Children’s Hospital in New Hyde Park.
The proceeds from this event will go a long way toward helping children and their families in their time of need given the great work done by CIC. This is inclusive of a CIC initiative known as “Santa Connection.” a way to bring live and personal Santa visits to children in numerous hospitals around the U.S. and Canada this coming December using video conference capabilities from Google. This event will once again will be hosted at Google’s YouTube Studios in NYC in December. There are also plans to once again have the Heisman Trophy winner do children’s hospital visits via a Google video conference, known as a “hangout” this December as well. Past Heisman Trophy winner visits have included Robert Griffin III, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Derrick Henry, Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield.
“I think about how far this event has come over the last 14 years,” said co-race director Mark Leff of Cisco Systems and lead for the CIC Technology Advisory Board. “I think about how today, prominent leaders and business people in the Farmingdale community have come together to make this event special and first-class in every respect. We can’t thank Joe Fortuna enough for making The Nutty Irishman available and for his great hospitality. But most importantly, we need to thank the Farmingdale Village Administration as well as the Nassau County Police and Auxiliary Police for their great support. Brian Harty and his entire team were phenomenal as they are every year. I also think its important to give special thanks to the MTA Police for their support. This event means so much to the community as well as to the children and all the participants who helped support children’s hospitals all over the U.S. and Canada. What a great example of bringing the community together for a great cause. And how about that finish line setup by Corey Roberts and Race Awesome? They deserve a huge thanks. Finally, I can’t thank our sponsors enough for their generosity and support. This event keeps getting better every year. It’s a great team effort; this is not possible without an incredible race committee, volunteers and sponsors.”
For more information on Companions in Courage, visit www.cic16.org.
For more information on the Main Street Mile, visit www.facebook.com/MainStreetMileFarmingdaleCiC. View photos from the race and the post-race fundraiser, and highlights from Facebook Live.
–Submitted by Mark Leff