Written by Chris Boyle Wednesday, 12 June 2013 00:00
The grounds of Denton Avenue School in New Hyde Park were packed with locals pounding the pavement for a good cause on Sunday, June 2.
The New Hyde Park Runners Club hosted its annual New Hyde Park 8K Championship Race and according to eight-year Club President Harold Axelrod, Sunday’s event encompassed several different competitions, addressing participants of all levels of fitness and age.
“We had three events...an 8K (4.97 miles) championship run, a fitness walk, and a kid’s run,” he said. “We had approximately 350 participants...about a dozen kids ran, 20 people did the fitness walk, and we had 315 people registered for the 8K.”
The race serves as the premier 8K yearly grand prix event for all of Long Island Track and Field and part of USA Track and Field. This year’s male winner was Dan Gargaro of Bay Shore with a time of 27:27 (5:32 per mile), and the female winner was Tara Wilson of West Islip with a time of 32:33 (6:33 per mile).
Axelrod noted that the profits generated by this charitable event, as per the norm for his organization’s 37-year history, will be going to those in need.
“Every year, what we do is choose different charities to give back to the community,” he said. “This year we’re raising money for the Nassau County Firefighter’s Wounded Warriors. 100 percent of their proceeds go to the Nassau County Wounded Warrior Association, who uses it to help Nassau military veterans and their families.”
“We’ve raised over five thousand dollars over the past two years for the Wounded Warriors,” Axelrod added, himself a runner as well as being an Iron Man Triathlete.
In addition, the NHP Runner’s Club also assists The Mary Brennan Inn, a large Long Island-based social service agency, by donating funds and canned goods to them to help feed the hungry. In the past the club has also supported Nassau County Firefighters, the Boy Scouts of America, and The Muscular Dystrophy Association, raising thousands of dollars for their respective causes.
Runners Club member Stephen Cipot worked on securing sponsors for this year’s race; without them, he said, rising annual costs would render the race almost impossible to produce.
“We look for community sponsorship because we love to promote local businesses...it helps to cover the costs of the race,” he said.
“Overall, the race cost between $9,000 and $12,000...we have computer chips embedded in the racer’s numbers so that we can accurately record their times, race insurance, food items...those things add up.”
Among the sponsors of the race were Luigi’s Pizzeria, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and Maspeth Federal Savings. In addition, raffle prizes were provided by local businesses as well, including a 42-inch color television and a bicycle.
“It’s a really great community event,” Cipot said. “We have a lot of people coming out from the community, both as participants and as volunteers, and we can’t do it without volunteers. It’s a big team effort...the more people chip in, the better we can make it. It’s a really positive thing, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Axelrod concurred with this sentiment; indeed, the race was truly a community event he said; even the Boy Scouts of New Hyde Park were assisting, handing out water to the runners who were competing to help the less fortunate.
“It’s very, very gratifying to help the people, not only because we’re giving back to the community, but for the causes that we’ve giving to,” Axelrod said. “For the Wounded Warriors, for veterans that have served and come back hurt, or the Mary Brennan Inn, it is gratifying to give something to people who have a need.”
More than anything else, Axelrod wants the community to know that the New Hyde Park Runners Club doesn’t just adhere to its namesake; there’s a lot more to them that he’d like folks to discover as well.
“We want people know that we’re not just runners...we’re walkers, bikers, and so on. We’re an all-encompassing kind of club that’s about the health of the individual,” he said. “But it’s not all about running...there’s a social aspect to the club, as well as a learning aspect...we do a lot of things together, and we have speakers that come down to our monthly meetings.”
“We want to thank the community for coming out and participating in our 2013 New Hyde Park 8K Championship Race,” a grateful Axelrod said. “This is an important cause and we want everyone to come on down next year, get involved, and get healthy.”
If you want to learn more about the New Hyde Park Runner’s Club, please visit their website at www.nhprunners.com