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Sep 8, 2019 3:50 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Locals Win Ninth Annual Over The Bridge Races

Runners, including Southampton's own Barbara Gubbins, trot through a flooded Dune Road at the start of Saturday morning's Over The Bridge races. KIM COVELL
Sep 9, 2019 3:57 PM

Hurricane Dorian may have only grazed the south shore of Long Island on Friday, but it certainly made for interesting and more-difficult-than-usual Over The Bridge 10K and 5K races in Hampton Bays on Saturday morning.

The first stretch of the 10K race on Dune Road — which typically gets flooded when big storms come through the area — was covered in a few inches of water or so. It was enough to make runners stay in the middle of the road, but even then they were still splashing each other. Then a strong headwind coming down Ponquogue Bridge added to the difficulty of the race, which is hosted by the Hampton Bays Lions Club and in its ninth year.

Frank Butz — race director and one of the many members of the Lions Club involved in the race — said that there was some worry in the days leading up to the race that it was going to have to be postponed, despite it being billed a rain or shine event. But if part of the course is flooded, there’s nothing, Butz said, people could do about it.

“If Dune Road got flooded worse than it did, it just wouldn’t have worked. So we were preparing a contingency plan, which was to have it the following Saturday,” he explained. “We had the town and police all lined up for that, but it wasn’t necessary, thank goodness.

“We had about 300 participants, surprisingly, and it all came off very well, despite the weather,” Butz added. “The 10K runners did have about an inch and a half of water on a stretch of road about 100 feet long that they had to deal with because part of Dune Road was flooded by the inlet.”

As Butz noted, though, the flood and the headwind didn’t seem to slow many of the strong runners, many of them local. Gustavo Morastitla, a 2018 graduate of Southampton High School, now 19, won the 10K race in 35:55.92, a mile pace of 5:47. Brad Lewis, 32, of Troy, New York, placed second overall in 36:42.97, followed by last year’s champion, J.D. Hillburn, 43, of Brooklyn, who finished third in 38:28.14. Miguel Morastitla, 41, of Southampton placed fourth overall in 38:38.60, and Carl Mills, 60, of New York City, finished fifth in 39:15.75.

Morastitla said the flooding on Dune Road didn’t affect him one bit, but the headwind on the downhill of Ponquogue Bridge did. With about 2 ½ miles remaining in the race, Morastitla said he started to cramp up near his ribs. He pushed through it and came sprinting onto the grass field toward the finish line behind Hampton Bays Middle School. Morastitla currently attends Suffolk County Community College and runs unattached for Gubbins. He’s hoping to transfer to a larger university within the next year or so, where he can run on the cross country and track teams.

Tara Farrell, 40, of East Quogue was the first female to cross the finish line (seventh overall) in 40:43.27. Barbara and Megan Gubbins of Southampton finished together in 42:15.12, Melissa Rockwell, 36, of Orient, finished fourth among women in 46:39.06 and Jennifer Kinderman, 46, of New York City, rounded out the top five women in 47:31.63.

Farrell, who won the women’s 10K two years ago, said that the headwind affected her splits by about 30 seconds or so. A longtime runner who can always be found competing in local races, Farrell is training for her first ever New York City Marathon on November 3.

“I warmed up 5 miles before this, thought it would be a good training run,” she said. “I’m excited. It’s the first time I’ll ever do New York City. I’ve done a handful of full marathons. All the people freak me out, but everyone says it’s a great experience, so I thought I would do it one time.”

Nick Berglin, 22, a graduate of Hampton Bays High School who also recently graduated from SUNY Oneonta, won the 5K in 17:29.49. Anthony Ricevuto, 44, of Manorville finished behind Berglin in 18:26.51, followed by Jack Stevens, 40, of New York in 18:37.21, and Kelvin Granados and Johnny Gonzalez, members of the Hampton Bays varsity cross country team, who finished fourth and fifth in 19:18.95 and 19:38.64, respectively.

Rebecca Tooker, 23, of Eastport, and a graduate of Eastport-South Manor High School, was the first female to cross the finish line of the 5K (13th overall) in 24:17. Hannah Gallo, 21, of Hampton Bays placed second among women in 25:31.57, followed by Keri Bannon, 46, of New York City in 26:58.50; Emily Pellicci, 27, of Calverton in 28:45.22; and Jaclyn Soucheck, 25, of Speonk in 29:45.04.

All results can be found at elitefeats.com.

This year’s event was held in memory of Sal Villareale, an active member of the Lions Club who died in March. Butz said that it was “sad, but happy to honor him,” and that Villareale’s son, Tony Villareale, is still an active member of the club.

These were also the first Over The Bridge 10K and 5K races that were sanctioned by the U.S.A. Track and Field-Long Island chapter Grand Prix Individual Series. Butz said the Lions Club had the races join the group hoping that it would increase the number of runners. Due to the hurricane, it was tough to say whether there was a positive effect, Butz said.

Funds raised from the event will continue to sponsor six seeing-eye dogs through the Smithtown Guide Dog Foundation. Three of the six dogs will go to returning war veterans. The Lions Club also sponsored a dog through America’s VetDogs, another Smithtown-based program that was created to provide enhanced mobility and renewed independence to veterans, active-duty service members, and first responders with disabilities.

For a third consecutive year, the Airborne Tri Team was also one of the beneficiaries. The team, according to its website, is a not-for-profit organization specifically designed for mentally and physically challenged war veterans. Its central focus is to provide war veterans with opportunities, physical challenges and goal-oriented physical achievements to maximize their potential and increase their self-esteem, all by being part of a team.

A number of other charitable organizations benefit from the race as well, including the Dominican Sisters, who help families in need, St. Rosalie’s Food Pantry of Hampton Bays, Hampton Bays Little League, local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and Maureen’s Haven, which provides shelter and support to the homeless on the East End. The race will also continue to provide scholarships for students in the Hampton Bays and Westhampton Beach school districts.

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