By Gavin Menu
Three generations of runners—and outstanding runners at that—were feted at an awards dinner held by the Old Montauk Athletic Club (OMAC) at the South Fork Country Club in Amagansett on Monday.
Nick Lemon, a Sag Harbor resident and former track and cross country athlete at Stony Brook University, was named the club’s Male Athlete of the Year for his performances on the East End running circuit. Lemon, 23, set new record times in winning the Bridgehampton Half Marathon in May and Ellen’s Run in August.
On a night when running ruled the day, Barbara Gubbins was named the club’s Female Athlete of the Year, an award that could be as much for lifetime achievement as it is for her performance this year, a stretch in which she won the masters division in every race she entered. Gubbins has been a staple on the East End running scene for nearly four decades, and at the age of 55 continues to post winning performances.
Both Lemon and Gubbins, who also ran for Stony Brook while in college, doubled Monday night as recruiters for one of the most outstanding young runners the East End has ever seen. Erik Engstrom, a senior at East Hampton High School, who won the Suffolk County Class B cross country race this fall and later earned All-State status, was honored Monday as the first-ever recipient of the club’s Youth Athletic Scholarship Award. Engstrom said Stony Brook University is one of a small pool of colleges he is considering. If he decides to go there, it would give perfect symmetry to Monday’s night’s award ceremony.
Theresa Roden was the fourth and final honoree on Monday as the Athletic Community Service Award recipient. Roden is the founder and force behind the i-tri program, which promotes self-esteem among girls through education and triathlon training. The group’s biggest event, a youth triathlon, was held for the first time this year at Long Beach in Sag Harbor.
In Lemon and Gubbins, Engstrom gets a glimpse of runners still competing at high levels after their high school and collegiate years, which is a consistent theme among members of OMAC.
“I’m still trying to figure out the whole consistency thing as far as training and working goes,” said Lemon, a 2014 college graduate who now works at Gubbins Running Ahead in Southampton. “In the summer, when it’s very busy, my training is cut back.”
Lemon raced a half marathon for the first time in Bridgehampton last summer, and won easily with a record time of 1:10:15, a mile pace of 5:22. Three months later he shattered the record at Ellen’s Run with a 5K time of 15:54. Aside from Luis Ramirez, a strong runner from Hampton Bays, few have even come close to Lemon, who said finding strong competition and running partners has been difficult.
Gubbins said the reverse is true as she has graduated to the masters division. At the Turkey Trot run in Montauk this Thanksgiving, she found herself battling for position with a very young, but talented runner.
“It’s kind of crazy that at 55 I’m competing against 11 and 12 year-olds,” Gubbins said on Monday. “But we all celebrate the love of running, and that’s what it’s all about.”