The Long Island Marathon Weekend takes place this year from Friday, May 1 to Sunday, May 3 in and around Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. Events begin with the Sports & Fitness Expo at the Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, which features exhibitors relating to the sport of running, fitness and general wellness.
Saturday is the day for the one-mile run, the 5K race, day two of the expo and a kids’ fun run. On Sunday, the marathon, half marathon, 10K and finish line festival will take place.
This year, participants will find “start-line parking areas” at Nassau Community College (NCC), which will ease morning congestion into Eisenhower Park. Participants can also look forward to new shuttle buses available from the park to NCC parking areas after the Sunday races and from the Westbury LIRR station to the expo and to and from the start and finish areas on Sunday.
“This is Long Island’s premier running event,” said Jason Lipset, director of the marathon since 2005. The long and interesting history of the race is what makes it such an important event, he said, citing the addition of the half marathon and 10K in past years. “We have something for everybody,” he said. “It’s a big event and a lot of fun.”
The event draws thousands of spectators who cheer the runners along. “Runners love that,” Lipset added, “the sense of community.”
Westbury resident Alex Nuñez can attest to that. He has run the marathon once and the half marathon 10 times. “It’s very exuberant,” he said. “When the end is near, you run faster. The cheering crowds give you that extra bit of energy.” (To read about the history of the Long Island Marathon, click here.)
Albertson resident Jeremy ArbitalJacoby, who will be running the full marathon for the 10th time, trains year-round. “There is usually a great group of spectators towards the last 100 to 200 feet who are cheering you on and I want to thank them, but need to stay focused on the finish,” he said. “Crossing the finish line, I feel excited and relieved.” ArbitalJacoby loves hearing his family call his name and the displays of good sportsmanship he experiences at the end of the race.
“Events like these can’t happen without all the selfless volunteers who come out and support our participants and our event,” said County Executive Ed Mangano. Volunteers have a number of duties, including being race weekend ambassadors to visitors, distributing information packets, assisting with registration, helping set up courses and providing refreshments to runners.
Many charities and organizations run the marathon as a group as a way to raise money and bring awareness to their cause. This year, participants will include Friends of Karen, which offers assistance to families with children with life-threatening illnesses, and Companions in Courage, NHL Hall of Famer Pat LaFointaine’s charity, which builds interactive playrooms in hospitals for sick children.
“In terms of health and fitness, it’s a great billboard to see friends, family and neighbors come out to run,” said Lipset. “Thousands of people from all different cultures, shapes, sizes and athletic abilities have same goal—to get to the finish line.”
Several running stores will be represented at the expo, including Runner’s Edge of Farmingdale, which recently celebrated their 30th anniversary, the Sayville and Smithtown Running Company, Lynbrook Runner’s Stop and Brickwell Cycling Fitness & Multisports, which will soon open a fourth Long Island location.
A host of charitable groups will appear at the expo, including Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Team Challenge (Crohns and Colitis Foundation). Representatives from Bermuda Marathon and Divas Half Marathon will appear, as well as representatives from local physical therapy, sports medicine and chiropractic practices.
Visitors can also expect to see The Greater Long Island Running Club, Massapequa Road Runners and New Hyde Park Road Runners in attendance. The Inaugural Suffolk County Marathon to Support Our Veterans will also have a booth.
Participants pick up their race packets and event shirts at the expo. Additional exhibitors include apparel companies, gift item vendors and food vendors, many of which will offer product samples.
“Most vendors offer nice discounts,” said Mindy Davidson, organizer of the expo. “It adds an extra layer of excitement around the event.”
2015 Long Island Marathon sponsors include RXR, Newsday, NEFCU, WBAB / WBLI, WABC-TV, All Round Foods, Snapple, Long Island McDonald’s Restaurants, Blink Fitness, The Main Event Restaurant and Jonas Chiropractic.