It was a wet and soggy start to the unofficial opening of the East End road racing season at the ninth annual Katy’s Courage 5K in Sag Harbor on Saturday morning. Despite the torrential rain at the start of the 3.1-mile race, over 300 runners took part, about half the number the race usually draws. Considering the conditions, it wasn’t a bad turnout.
For the second year in a row, Ryan Fowkes, now a senior who is one of top runners in Suffolk County for East Hampton’s cross country and track teams, won the race in 15:55, a mile place of 5:07, and nearly a full minute faster than what he ran last year.
Fowkes said it was probably one of the wettest races he’s ever competed in, but, after all, it’s all about the cause. He didn’t know Katy Stewart, the Sag Harbor girl who died at age 12 in 2010 following a battle with cancer, and for whom the race is named, but Fowkes does know her father, Jim Stewart, a teacher and coach at East Hampton High School. In fact, Fowkes’s mother, Jennifer, also had Mr. Stewart as a teacher.
“He’s a good guy. It’s definitely a good cause, and I’m happy to come out here and run this race,” he said. “I woke up this morning, hoped that it was going to clear up, but it didn’t end up clearing up. So, you know, you just kind of have fun with it. Sometimes it’s fun to just go out there and get wet.”
Proceeds from the race are divided among three causes that are dear to the Stewart family: “Katy’s Kids,” a program based at the Children’s Museum of the East End that provides counseling opportunities for grieving children and their families; the pediatric cancer research fund at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York City, where Katy received treatment; and scholarships for high school students at Pierson and East Hampton.
Gustavo Morastitla, 18, another strong runner who graduated from Southampton High School last June, placed second in 16:00.74, and he was followed by Pierson High School sophomore Ben McErlean, who crossed the finish line in 17:59.61. Colin Davis, 34, of Montauk finished fourth in 18:01.46, and another East Hampton High School runner, Evan Masi, a freshman, rounded out the top five in 18:03.93.
East Hampton High School sophomore Ava Engstrom was the first female to cross the finish line (16th overall) in 20:37.78, and she was followed by her teammate on the girls cross country and track teams, Isabellea Tarbet, who finished in 20:58.80 (20th overall). Pierson High School sophomore Sofia Mancino, a three-sport athlete who plays volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter and softball in the spring, came in right behind Tarbet in 21:01.80. Penelope Greene, a junior at Pierson and runner in cross country and track, finished in 21:15.17 (23rd overall), and Laura Brown, 51, of Westhampton, was the fifth woman to finish, crossing the finish line in 22:00.66.
There were three short course runners, led by Kiera Martin, 9, who finished in 18:58.68. Isabel Mitchell and Amanda Rodriguez, both 11, finished in 18:59.22 and 18:59.58, respectively. All three girls hail from Sag Harbor.
Full results can be found at elitefeats.com.
New to the race this year was the team from St. Charles Hospital, which helped out runners in need under the race tent. Keith Levinson, lead sports medicine physical therapist with the hospital based out of Port Jefferson, met Mr. Stewart at the Suffolk County Division I Wrestling Championships in February, and the two started talking about the race. Levinson wanted to provide the hospital’s services, and the hospital was also a sponsor.
“There’s about six of us sports medicine physical therapists from St. Charles Hospital and what we’re here to do is provide care and help for the athletes and runners before and after the race,” he explained. “We’re here, all hands on deck, for recovery and everything like that, but it really kind of stems from proper care, proper treatment and how things are going before the run. We like to tell runners you shouldn’t run to train, you should train to run. It’s really one of the things we really preach.”