Each year, runners gearing up for Ellen’s Run — an annual event raising funds for breast cancer research and awareness — take part in a pre-race ceremony honoring survivors. A necklace, composed of an 18-carat acorn centerpiece, is passed around among the survivors, representing that a mighty oak will grow from something small.
If anything is proof of such philosophy, it is the run itself, now in its 24th year and a Southampton institution.
Ellen’s Run — the 5K race that largely benefits The Ellen Hermanson Foundation — will take place on Sunday, August 18. After 13 years in East Hampton, Ellen’s Run moved to Southampton in 2009 to coincide with the opening of the Ellen Hermanson Breast Center at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. For nearly a decade now, runners have met at Parrish Memorial Hall at Southampton Hospital, some as early as 7:30 a.m. in preparation for a 9 a.m. start time, to enjoy music from a DJ, pre-race workouts, and children have gotten their faces painted by clowns.
Julie Ratner, who has spearheaded the race since its infancy in 1996, said her goal for this year’s event is to register 1,000 runners. Participants will be given free stainless steel S’well water bottles, while supplies last, as well as T-shirts for the race, she said.
Though trophies are presented to both the men’s and women’s first-place finishers in each age group, Ratner stressed that Ellen’s Run also honors survivors and those affected by breast cancer. An award is given to the first-finishing breast cancer survivor, and all survivors are also given pink headbands to wear during the run, as well as roses.
“We really try to honor the grace and the grit [of the survivors] that’s so admirable,” she said.
And Ratner has seen that grace and grit firsthand: she was the older sister of Ellen Hermanson, for whom Ellen’s Run is named, and who died in 1995 after a six-year battle with breast cancer. Looking for a way to honor her sister’s life, Ratner came up with the idea of what would become Ellen’s Run while sipping coffee with a friend on Columbus Avenue in New York, she said.
The Ellen Hermanson Foundation uses received donations to directly benefit the East End community, Ratner said. “The money we raise here stays here,” she said.
At this year’s race, features will include a runners’ raffle, a bagel and breakfast buffet, and a “mini massage” booth.
For more information about The Ellen Hermanson Foundation, or to register for Ellen’s Run, visit ellenhermanson.org. Additionally, registration is available at Parrish Memorial Hall on Saturday, August 17, from 9 a.m. to noon, and there will be day-of race registration from 7:30 a.m. until start time.