A morning rainfall didn’t deter the Bellmore Striders Running Club from hitting the pavement on Independence Day; after all, what are a few drops of water compared to the special milestone they were celebrating?
The Annual Bellmore Striders Fourth of July Run celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, having first started in Bellmore way back in 1982, according to race director Alex Cuozzo.
“We wanted to put together a local race to help support the club,” he said. “There used to be an annual race in Wantagh in the 1970s, but they discontinued it. At the time, there was no race on July 4 so we decided to put something together.”
The first year the race took place, the Bellmore Striders had 169 finishers. Growing massively from there, Cuozzo said that this year’s race boasts 433 registered participants, all of whom were out pounding the streets of Bellmore.
Joe Brida of Miller Place made the long trip to Bellmore to assist with his training.
“I’m preparing to run in the USA Track and Field Grand Prix Series and this is excellent training” he said. “And, honestly, I like to run in the rain."
Joe Lenox of East Islip was running the race today with two very special companions.
“This is the first race for my two children and I’m running with them as support,” he said. “Hopefully, they will continue to do it year after year. It’s just a great way to start the Fourth of July.”
Rob Lemke was participating in the race today as coach to several kids from the Bellmore Police Athletic League.
“We’re here to support the Bellmore community,” he said. “We also want to get the kids involved in health and fitness, so we all come out here and we all support each other.”
The race was comprised of two separate events, each allowing both kids and adult runners a chance to compete for glory.
The winner of the kids' race was 12-year-old Olicia Conlon of Bellmore, who completed the mile course in just over six minutes, far ahead of anyone else.
“I’m on a running team, so I train for the mile all the time,” she said. “It feels pretty great coming in first this year, because last year I came in fourth.”
The adults’ four-mile run was won by Juan Amonte of the Bronx, with a time just over 20 minutes.
“I run a lot,” he said. “I like this of course. I enjoy the run.”