By Gavin Menu
Running is an individual pursuit, but the importance of community should not be underestimated. Close to 800 runners, walkers and breast cancer survivors turned out Sunday morning in Southampton for the 20th annual Ellen’s Run 5K, an event now firmly entrenched on the summer fundraising and road racing calendars.
Nick Lemon, 23, of Sag Harbor, a recent graduate of Stony Brook University, was the overall winner and shattered the course record of 16:48 set in 2013 by Robert Beit. Lemon’s time of 15:54 (5:07 mile pace) put him just ahead of Luis Ramirez, 25, of Southampton, who has dominated local road races over the last several years, but finished six seconds behind the winner on Sunday with a time of 16 minutes flat.
Dylan Fine, 18, of New York rounded out the top three finishers with a time of 16:16 on a humid morning near Southampton Hospital, where temperatures soared toward 80 degrees by the 9 a.m. start time.
The top overall female finisher was Molly Bennett, 22, of East Quogue, posting a time of 19:24 (6:15 mile pace). She was followed by Hanna Jerome of Englewood, New Jersey (19:37), and Barbara Gubbins of Southampton (19:45).
Judi Donnelly, 58, of Southampton was the first breast cancer survivor to cross the finish line, doing so in 23:26.
Complete results are available on the Ellen’s Run homepage at ellensrun.org.
All proceeds from Sunday’s race, and the 19 that were held before it, go to the Ellen Hermanson Foundation, which, among other things, supports a state-of-the-art breast health care center at Southampton Hospital. The race was held in East Hampton the first 13 years, but moved to Southampton in 2009 to celebrate the opening of the Ellen Hermanson Breast Center.
Total funds from this year’s event were not available as of press time, but the foundation over the years has awarded more than $3.5 million in grants for research, detection, treatment and support.
“Twenty years is a big milestone,” said Julie Ratner, whose sister, Ellen P. Hermanson, died after a long battle with breast cancer in 1995. “It signifies that we saw a need, we persisted and we stayed true to the course, which is to provide quality access to breast health care for the local community.
“On a personal note, it’s hard because it means my sister has been gone for 20 years,” Ratner continued. “Her memory is still as sharp as the day she left us, and what Ellen’s Run has done for me is it has allowed me to keep her legacy alive.”
Ratner stood close to the finish on Sunday as hundreds of runners of all ages poured across the line. Lemon, the first to finish, is part of a larger community of runners based in Sag Harbor who work for the Gubbins family in their stores in East Hampton and Southampton.
“They know that we all want to continue running so they let us build our work schedule around that,” Lemon said. “We go to work at 10 and get out at six, so I get up at 6:30 or seven every morning, have some coffee and then go run before work. It’s nice to have bosses that know what you’re doing, and then they also cover our race entry, which makes things a lot easier.”
Barbara Gubbins, who at the age of 55 was the top female finisher in the recent Strides for Life race in Southampton, competed in the very first Ellen’s Run in 1995 and on Sunday said that runners thrive off of community.
“I feel like in many ways we’re able to mentor the younger runners,” said Gubbins, standing alongside her husband, Justin, a former competitive runner himself. “When I came out of college I didn’t have a community of runners. It’s really beneficial to have people to train with. Running is 90-percent mental and 10-percent physical, so when you have somebody else with you it just pushes you farther.”
Many of the young runners at Gubbins are training for the Hoka One One Long Island Mile event, to be held September 9 at St. Anthony’s High School in Huntington. Barbara Gubbins is preparing for her fourth New York City Marathon this fall—making Sunday’s 5K a “speed workout”—where she and her daughter, Megan, set the 3:30 pace for the New York Road Runner’s Club, which organizes the event.