By Gavin Menu
Even with strong winds whipping off Sag Harbor Cove early Saturday morning, and the threat of a possible hurricane slowly moving off to the east, a small but talented group of athletes took to the streets to honor one of the most dedicated runners the East End has ever seen.
Presented every year by the Sag Harbor Lions Club, the Andy’s Run 5K is named for former Sag Harbor resident Andy Neidnig, a runner for the ages who competed in these sort of events almost until the day he died in 2012 at the age of 93.
As a result of the weather, turnout for Saturday’s race was relatively low with about 50 runners stepping to the starting line on Long Island Avenue to face challenging conditions along the water near the start and finish lines.
Nick Lemon, 23, a recent college graduate and Sag Harbor resident who, like Neidnig, appears to have a great running career ahead,
won Saturday’s race with relative ease in 16 minutes and 5 seconds (5:11 mile pace). Luis Ramirez, another top East End runner, finished second down the stretch on West Water Street through brutal gusting winds with a time of 16:36.
“It was really windy out there,” said Lemon, who also edged Ramirez over the summer to win the Ellen’s Run 5K in high heat and humidity. Lemon said he has trained on the Andy’s Run course many times, giving him an advantage, especially through the challenging hills of the Redwood community.
“I’ve come down here quite a bit, especially in the winter time,” said Lemon, who plans to run a half marathon in Hartford this weekend. “I knew the hills back there, but still it was a very hard finish.”
Running alongside her son, Geary, Barbara Gubbins was the top overall female finisher, crossing the line in 20:49.
Other Sag Harbor locals were also well represented on Saturday, with members of the Pierson boys cross country team coming out strong once again for the event. Last year’s winner, Angelo Toscano, finished fourth in 18.54, while an honorary local, United States Army Sgt. First Class Russ Littel, who is the son-in-law of Sag Harbor Village Trustee Ed Deyermond, finished sixth in 19:38 after traveling from across the world earlier in the week to be in Sag Harbor.
“The killer is those three or four hills in Redwood,” said Littel, who traveled from South Korea, where he is stationed with his wife, Kate, and their 5-year-old daughter, Bethany.
The Littels are on an Army base outside of Seoul, on what’s called an FMWR, an acronym standing for Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
“We run the gyms, the golf courses, the bowling centers, any of the officer clubs. Kate is the general manager of the hotel at Camp Humphreys, which is south of Seoul,” said Littel, the Army’s corporate chef for the Pacific region, encompassing Alaska, Hawaii, Korea and Japan. “Right now, where we are, it’s the largest transformation the military has ever done. They’re moving troops away from DMZ [demilitarized zone] to give us more of a buffer, but it also make it easier for families to visit.”
It seems every runner at these events has a good story to tell, but results from Saturday’s race can only be found online at andyrun.itsyourrace.com.