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May 13, 2019 10:10 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

First Time Runners Win Bridgehampton Half Marathon Saturday

Runners at the start of the sixth annual Bridgehampton Half Marathon on Saturday.   CAILIN RILEY
May 14, 2019 7:00 AM

Two first-time runners of the Bridgehampton Half-Marathon enjoyed both perfect weather and a victory on Saturday morning, in the sixth edition of the race.

Sean Fitzgerald, 45, of Cutchogue was first in 1:19.01, a 6:02 mile pace, edging out Dan McGrath, 36, of Rockville Center who was second in 1:19.06.

Laura Heintz, 42, of New York was the top female finisher, seventh overall, in 1:27.06, a mile pace of 6:39. Liz Fernandez, 40, of Rockville Center, followed behind her in 1:28.27, (6:46 mile pace) taking eighth overall.

Neither Fitzgerald nor Heintz broke the record for the half-marathon. Nick Lemon’s record of 1:10.15, set in 2015, still stands, as does Jamie Sutherland’s mark of 1:25.30 for women, set the same year.

Heintz and Fitzgerald had more in common than being first-time winners and first-time runners of the Bridgehampton Half. Both said they were introduced to the sport by parents who were avid distance runners.

Fitzgerald is a self-described “army brat,” who moved around the country as a kid but who is now an Air Force combat rescue officer, working with the 106th Rescue Wing at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton. He said he was using the Bridgehampton Half as training for marathons in the fall. He is set to run in the Air Force Marathon in Ohio in September, and has his sights on the Marine Corps Marathon as well.

Fitzgerald seems to be passing the family running tradition on as well. His son Trevor, 10, finished second in his age group in the 5K that went off a few minutes after the start of the half marathon. When asked if he’d one day be able to beat his dad, Trevor did not hesitate. “Definitely,” he said, with confidence.

Fitzgerald was happy with his performance, saying he didn’t necessarily set out to win, but achieved his goals.

“I came out with the intent of running under 1:20, and I did that,” he said. “Placing first is just the cherry on top.”

Heintz also had a laid back approach to the race. A longtime marathon runner, she said she isn’t currently training for any particular event, but that she still runs “pretty much every day,” and did the race with a group of friends.

“My good friend has a house out here, and we just decided to come out and have a fun weekend,” she said after the race. “It’s such a gorgeous day, and the course was great—super flat and nice.”

Heintz and Fernandez were the only females among the top 10 finishers. After McGrath, Timothy Walton, 46, of Sag Harbor was third in 1:23.29 (6:23 pace); Josh Kogan, 26, of Port Jefferson was fourth (1:23.47, 6:24); Teddy Wasserman, 40, of New York was fifth (1:24.22, 6:27); Jeff Huber, 29, of New York was sixth (1:24.58, 6:30); Peter Goldwasser, 40, of Brooklyn was ninth (1:29.02, 6:48); and Michael Nickerson, 30, of Sag Harbor was 10th (1:28.53, 6:48). Southampton native and Sag Harbor resident Craig Berkoski, 38, was 11th in 1:29.14 (6:49).

Among females, Kate Woods, 28, of Sleepy Hollow was third in 1:31.33 (7:00 pace); Susan Gronbeck, 28, of New York was fourth in 1:33.05 (7:07) and Southampton’s own Barbara Gubbins, 59, was fifth in 1:33.07 (7:07).

The 5K race was won by Justin Weiss, 32, of New York in 18:21 (5:55 mile pace), while Izzi Solomon, 14, of New York was the top female in 22:25 (7:13 mile pace).

Full results are at zippyraceresults.com.

The Bridgehampton Half Marathon is a fundraiser for Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, the Bridgehampton School, and the Bridgehampton Museum. The race has also partnered with the charity Every Mother Counts, founded by Christy Turlington-Burns in 2010, which works to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for women around the world. Several runners wore Every Mother Counts shirts and did their own fundraising for the charity through the race. It is a fitting partnership, considering that the race takes place on Mother’s Day weekend every year.

A total of 1,050 people were pre-registered for the race, with 675 completing the half maraton, and 150 finishing the 5K. Diane Weinberger, one of the race’s co-founders, said she was a bit surprised that more of the people who registered did not show up, considering the perfect weather conditions. Still, the race has been a resounding success in its six years. Ms. Weinberger pointed out that she and co-founder Amanda Moszkowski have always benefitted from the support of Southampton Town Police, and local sponsors, notably title sponsor Saunders Real Estate.

“Both the Bridgehampton Half and the Hamptons Marathon & Half are not-for-profit races that support the local community,” Ms. Weinberger said. “We run these races as a labor of love with no staff. It is only through race registration fees and the generous help of our sponsors and volunteers that we have been able to give over $775,000 to East End groups, and we’re proud of the impact we’ve had.”

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