The Ellen’s Run 5K celebrated its 15th anniversary in Southampton on Sunday morning, marking the second consecutive year the race has been held in Southampton Village after spending the previous 13 years in East Hampton.
The race, which raises money to promote breast health, was created in 1997 by Julie Ratner to honor her sister Ellen Hermanson, who died of breast cancer in 1995. A generous donation from the Ellen Hermanson Foundation led to the construction of the Ellen Hermanson Breast Health Center at Southampton Hospital and the vast majority of money raised by the race and the foundation supports breast health locally, on the South Fork.
More than 1,000 people participated in the race on Sunday morning under cloudy skies. Many of them were adorned in pink and also wore signs attached to the backs of their shirts recognizing specific friends or family members whom they were honoring by running the race.
John Honerkamp, 34, of New York was the winner, coming across the finish line in 15:45 (5:05 pace). Nick Ellenoff, 16, also of New York, was second in 16:42 (5:23), a week removed from winning the Strides for Life 5K in Southampton Village. Angel Rojas, 24, of Hampton Bays was third in 16:50 (5:25).
Ellenoff and Rojas battled for the lead throughout the early stages of the race, but might have exerted too much energy in doing so, according to Honerkamp, who is a long distance running coach. Honerkamp is currently leading training runs for the Hamptons Marathon and has been a running coach since graduating from St. John’s University, where he was a standout in the 800-meter race.
“Those two guys took it out way too hard,” he said, referring to Ellenoff and Rojas. “I didn’t think they were as fit as I was so I just let them duke it out. They were really killing each other and wasting energy trying to push for the lead.”
Honerkamp acknowledged that both runners were talented, but said that experience might have paid off for him.
“I have a lot of miles in these legs,” he said.
Hope Krause, 22, of New Canaan, Connecticut, finished fourth and was the first female finisher in 17:36 (5:40). Brendan Blaney, 20, of New York was fifth in 17:46 (5:44) and Jason Hancock, 36, of Southampton was sixth in 18:12 (5:52). Amar Kuchinad, 36, of New York was seventh in 18:25 (5:56), Paul Mackey, 16, of Garrison, New York was eighth in 18:31 (5:58), Gordon Holmes, 41, of East Hampton was ninth in 18:40 (6:01) and Barbara Gubbins, 50, of Southampton rounded out the top ten in 18:47 (6:03).
Complete results can be found at coolrunning.com.
While there were plenty of cheers for the elite runners who finished in the top 10, the athletes who received the most attention were the breast cancer survivors who participated in the race. Each survivor who crossed the finish line was handed a pink rose and treated to a large round of applause from the spectators standing on the sidelines. This year, Southampton resident Jodi Wasserman, 53, was first in 26:04. Wasserman finished second among survivors last year, when she described herself as “a one-year survivor.”
“She is vibrant and she looks healthy and wonderful,” Ratner said of Wasserman.
Wasserman was given an 18-karat gold necklace from Tiffany’s for being the first breast cancer survivor to cross the finish line. After the race, Wasserman gave the necklace to Susan Barry Roden, who is the outreach coordinator at the Ellen Hermanson Breast Health Center. Wasserman said she owed much thanks to both her husband and Barry Roden for helping her through her battle with breast cancer.
The top three male and female finishers in each age group received an award and a trophy was given to the team with the most members. This year that award went to Strong Connections, a team put together by Barbara Borsack of East Hampton. Borsack is a breast cancer survivor and is also a committee member for Ellen’s Run. The Strong Connections team had 83 runners participate.
Ratner said she felt the race was a great success this year despite less than perfect weather. To date, the Ellen Hermanson Foundation has raised $2.5 million to fund breast health on the East End of Long Island, which Ratner said makes her proud.
Ratner said she always experiences a mixture of emotions on the day of the race.
“I feel relief, because it went off well and I feel tremendous respect and gratitude,” she said. “I feel respect for the breast cancer survivors. They teach me all the time about grace and bravery and being positive. I feel gratitude to everyone who has helped because it takes a village to pull this off.
“There’s always a little sense of sadness, too, because I always still miss my sister,” Ratner continued. “But I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished through this run and the money we have raised.”