Written by Chris Boyle, firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 04 April 2014 00:00
Running is probably one of the oldest and most popular forms of exercise, and one that was most likely born out of necessity; after all, mankind has been using the ability to run to escape danger and acquire dinner for thousands of years...it was only a matter of time before someone realized it can get you in great shape, too.
The Greater Long Island Running Club has been around since 1978, and currently boasts nearly 4,700 members from everywhere from Valley Stream to Montauk; Mike Polansky of Plainview, the current Running Club President, has been with the group since day one, and said that its birthplace was right in the heart of Plainview.
“It was started by a bunch of guys running around the track at Plainview High School,” he said. “We well all like, ‘Hey, let’s start a club.’ At the time we were getting ready to put on a race with the Plainview Police Boys Club, a race which is still around to this day, the All Round Foods Aspire 10K, and it’s currently the oldest and largest ten kilometer race on Long Island.”
The Greater Long Island Running Club has evolved and grown over the years; these days, Polansky said, they are a huge part of the New York running scene.
“We’re involved with pretty much every major race on Long Island,” he said. “We put on 32 races of our own every year, plus, we put out our own monthly magazine, called Long Island Footnotes.”
But with that growth has heralded in a civic-mindedness and the desire to help others less fortunate than themselves. Polansky noted that the Running Club makes a great effort to give back to the community each and every year.
“We support the running community,” he said. “Recently, we gave out $7,000 worth of running shoes to the kids of Central Islip High School, and overall, we donate $50,000 a year to Long Island charities.”
Sue Fitzpatrick of Dix Hills has been a member of the Club for 28 years and currently manages several of their racing teams, assists with the production of their magazine, and many other duties.
“We have a lot of camaraderie among the members of the club,” she said. “We get together to do things, go on club trips that we go away together on...it’s a good way to get to meet people.”
The Club meets four times a year at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library; at their recent March meeting, they held their annual member awards ceremony, which celebrates the accomplishments in the areas of service, athletic prowess, lifetime achievement awards, and more, Fitzpatrick said.
“Based on our club races, people get assigned points depending on how they placed in the race and their age group,” she said. “At the end of the year, we accumulate all the points, figure out who’s the top winner in each age group, and we award them.”
Margaret Boorstein of East Norwich has been involved with the Running Club for several decades, and while she said she’s starting to slow down in recent years, she said that she still makes sure she continues to pound the pavement as much as she can.
“The people are very friendly...I volunteer with them a lot, and tonight they presented me with an award for it,” she said. “OI run a few races with my fellow club members every year. Most of them run much faster than do. I used to run faster, but it doesn’t matter...I always finish every race, and that is what’s important.”
While some people might shy away from the sport of running to the perceived complexity and difficulty it may entail, Polansky said that just isn’t the case; in reality, running is healthy, natural, and, above all else, the height of simplicity...that, he said, is the very essence of the Greater Long Island Running Club.
“Just get out there...just get out there and do it,” he said. “You don’t need to read books, you don’t need to listen to people, you just need to go out there, put one foot in front of the other, and do it. That’s really what it’s all about. You don’t really need any skill or athleticism...anybody can do it.”
To find out more about the Greater Long Island Running Club, visit www.glirc.org.