Record number of participants cross finish line in Port’s turkey day run

Robert Pelaez
A record-number of runners ran five-miles on Thanksgiving morning in Port Washington. (Photo courtesy of Val Taylor)

The 44th annual Port Washington Thanksgiving Day 5-mile Run featured a record 2,596 runners who finished, despite recorded winds of up to 45 mph. 

While the wind was whipping, the sun was shining, and all runners, walkers, and over 100 volunteers gathered on Manorhaven Boulevard, according to Julie Meer Harnick, executive director of the Community Chest of Port Washington,

The run is co-presented by the Community Chest of Port Washington and the Town of North Hempstead, with proceeds going to the Community Chest.  The event is the largest fundraiser of the year for the Community Chest, charitable organization whose mission is to provide support and services to the people of Port Washington and to provide below-market rent to charities, helping them fulfill their missions.

“The entire board of the Community Chest would like to thank the Peter & Jeri Dejana Family Foundation and all our sponsors, runners and volunteers. Together they make helping our neighbors possible,” Community Chest Board President Drew Hershkowitz said.

He noted that this year the Community Chest received over 250 additional donations, which totaled another $10,000, from participants and their friends and family as part of the Community Chest’s “Be A Charity Hero” campaign, to make this year’s event the most financially successful ever. 

The top male overall finisher was Brian Wersan of Holbrook, age 27, finishing at 27:01.  Port residents Aaron Siff-Scherr, age 20 and Andrew Adelhardt, age 21 came in 2nd and 3rd at 27:08 and 27:46, respectively. The top female overall finishers were Leonara Petrina of Medford in 1st at 29:15, Amanda Ashe of Glen Cove in 2nd at 31:33 and Esther Lok of Woodbury in 3rd at 32:01.

“I look forward to this event every year when I come home [for Thanksgiving] and they always do a great job with it,” Siff-Scherr said after the race.

Local residents finishing first in their age categories were Stevyn Sombrotto, 11 (35:04), Ashley Carillo, 12 (39:14), Kevin Taylor, 15 (29:22), Ally Carillo, 14 (39:14), Oliver Melara, 16 (27:52), Lucy Hurt, 19 (34:06), Jordan Hurt, 20 (28:14), Bianca Luparello, 24 (32:25), Marco Bertolotti, 27 (29:21), Allison Rosenberg, 29 (35:34), Christine Gottimer of Manhasset, 30 (35:37), Dan Wallace, 35 (32:47), Laura Alonso, 48, (37:46), Ann Marie Fitzpatrick, 53 (37:47), Kathleen Donovan, 63 (42:27), Mark Heller, 65 (39:46), Genie Segall, 66 (53:30), Neil Robinson of Manhasset, 72 (55:32), Lynn Kelly, 71 (1:14:16), Mary Lu Dempsey-Palafox, 76 (1:15:45), Leo Ullman, 80 (1:08:02) and Evelyn Monaco, 80 (1:24:52). 

The Community Chest also highlighted senior competitor Vera Allen, 90, and Bobby Anastasia, who has participated in all 44 Port Washington Thanksgiving Day runs.  Anastasia came in 3rd in his age group at 44:01.  Many locals finished in the top three in their age categories, some ran personal bests, others ran in their first race, and others successfully finished their first 5-mile race, according to Harnick.

“We have help from the Schreiber High School Key Club, Boy Scout Troop 7, and over 100 other community members,” Community Chest Office Associate, Shelly Persaud said. “We couldn’t possibly run this event without all the community help.”  

Harnick also thanked the coordination and logistics of the Port Washington Police and Fire Medics, the Sands Point and Nassau County Police Departments, Nassau County Department of Public Works, the Town of North Hempstead’s Parks and Highway Departments, along with cooperation from the Villages of Manorhaven, Sands Point, Baxter Estates and Port Washington North make the run possible.

“The behind-the-scene efforts of the Race Technical Director, David Katz, founder of Finish Line Road Race Technicians, help make the event run seamlessly,” Harnick added.  “Katz, along with his amazing team, make sure that every technical detail is covered. It shows in the comments of the participants, many of whom say that is the best-run race they do all year.”

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