Sponsored by the Greater Long Island Running Club in memory of Nick Katsounis, the annual wheelchair race was held in Farmingdale on Sunday, June 26. Chair racers from across the country and overseas came to participate in this 10K and possibly set a new record. Escorted by the Nassau County Police Department and New York State Trooper Motor Patrol the race started down Motor Parkway and continued through parts of Farmingdale including the Bethpage Parkway and Merritts Road. This year, there was a minor crash involving four chairs which took 35-year-old racer Jacob Heilveil from Baffel, WA out of the race. Jacob, who trains all year long and is sponsored by Quickie and Home Depot said that the crash caused his chair to go offline and forced him to give up his chance at taking home first place. He was one of the first chairs to come down to the home stretch before getting caught up in the scene of the crash. Taking home the first place cup for the women's division was Diane Watt, who set an unofficial new course record with her time of 24.03. A total of nine women came in under the record previously held until this year.
Coming in first for the men's division was Urtz Vandyke, winning the $3,000 pot. Hailing from South Africa, Vandyke has been chair racing for the past 13 years and is sponsored by Invacare and Spaulding Rehab. He attributes his win to the hard work and dedicated training regimen, which has included participating in the Boston Marathon for the past five years. Wheelchair races have become increasingly popular over the past years and now include several events throughout North America such as Boulder Boulder, Peachtree and Bloomsday held across North America. When asked why they do it longtime volunteer and one of the first racers Chuck Albert coined it best by saying "we do it in memory of Nick, to keep his spirit alive. He started this race in Plainview and that was all uphill you know. Now that's an athlete to me."