In its fourth year, the Flying Point 10K run and 2K walk in Water Mill has continued to build upon its tradition as a family-oriented race that raises awareness of autism and developmental disabilities.
Runners and walkers enjoyed a picture perfect Sunday at Flying Point Beach and on the 10K course, which looped through the estate section of Water Mill and Southampton, beginning and ending at a beach parking lot.
More than 180 runners crossed the finish line in the 10K and another three dozen people participated in the 2K walk. Franklin Diaz, 25, of Farmingdale was the first runner to come across the line, finishing in 36:50 (5:56 pace). He was the best among the talented field despite working a night shift at Applebee’s that kept him awake until 3 a.m. that morning The native of the Dominican Republic said he enjoyed the course, which was “flat and easy.”
Diaz enjoyed a comfortable margin over second-place finisher Nick Collazos, 16, who finished in 37:03 (5:58). Will Widman, 45, of North Babylon was third in 37:53 (6:06); Kevin Carroll, 56, of Huntington Station was fourth in 38:31 (6:12) and Jorge Flores, 38, of East Hampton was fifth in 39:00 (6:17). Adam Cruz, a 15-year-old wheelchair participant, crossed the line before any runners came in, finishing in 29:05 (4:41).
Steve Frommer, 38, of Interlaken, New Jersey, was sixth in 39:13 and Steven Cuomo, 27, of Mastic was seventh in 39:41 (6:24). Michael Brannigan of East Northport was eighth in 39:46 (6:24) while Brent Vinch, 39, of Manorville was ninth in 39:57 (6:26). Laura Brown, 42, of Westhampton Beach was the top female finisher in 40:04 (6:27) and was 10th overall. Karen Cotty Amato, 46, of East Quogue was the second female finisher in 41:57 (6:45) and was 17th overall. Susan Haywood, 42, was the third female finisher in 42:29 (6:51) and rounded out the top 20.
For compete results, visit island-timing.com.
Race organizer Kim Covell, who is an assistant editor at The Press, was happy with the turnout at this year’s race and has been pleased with the growth of the event, which she started four years ago to honor her son, Dylan, who is autistic. Dylan will turn 11 years old on September 29.
“Everyone loves this event,” she said. “We make it fun for participants as well as spectators. It’s about running, autism awareness and family.”
To date, the Flying Point Run has raised more than $50,000 for autism awareness and research. This year, the race benefitted the Flying Point Foundation for Autism, which is dedicated to supporting programs and services that enrich the lives of children with autism. Covell founded the organization in the fall of 2008 and she says the ultimate goal for the foundation would be to open or fund a summer camp program for children on the East End with developmental disabilities that would include typically developing peers.
The Flying Point Run has become popular is its short life span, attracting many of the more talented runners on the East End circuit. But there were also plenty of runners crossing the finish line who provided a reminder of why the race exists. The Flying Point Race always draws many runners from the Rolling Thunder organization, a running club for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Covell said she makes it a point each year to invite Rolling Thunder runners to participate free of charge.
“Seeing runners with developmental disabilities provides a symbol of hope for all whose lives are affected by disabilities,” she said.
Covell said the success of the race is due in large part to the generosity of the volunteers who help make the race a reality as well as the cooperation of the residents who live in the area where the race takes place.
“The local support means everything to a race like this,” she said. “I’m grateful to everyone who comes out to participate as well as the volunteers and to the neighbors who might get delayed on the road for a few minutes as the run goes through their area.”
The volunteers have a special place in Covell’s heart. She pointed out one volunteer, Ricky Moran, who has been with the race since the beginning and had been in a serious car accident that has him wheelchair-bound. Moran still attended the race with his partner, Michael Gary. Covell said that their dedication moved her to tears.
“It’s difficult to put into words really how much this means to me,” Covell said. “People giving up a Sunday morning to help and businesses writing checks or donating goods is always so amazing to me. It’s a tremendous amount of work, but having an event that sheds light on autism and helps people better understand my son makes it worth it.”
For more information on the Flying Point Run and the Flying Point Foundation for Autism, visit fpf4autism.org.