It felt like 2011 all over again. After holding the Blazing Trails 4 Autism 4-Mile Run in a couple of less-than-successful venues in 2012, 2013 and 2014, and skipping it entirely in 2015, the run returned to its birthplace at Great Neck South High School on Nov. 19.
Five hundred runners enjoyed the eclectic four-mile course that started on the Long Island Expressway Service Road and headed down Lakeville Road into a pleasant Lake Success neighborhood prior to entering the school campus and climbing a significant hill or two before finishing on the high school track. Another 250 walkers enjoyed a one-and-a-half mile course that also concluded on the track.
Alex Eletto of Stony Brook scored another overall win, crossing the finish line in 22:15, 55 seconds ahead of runner-up and top Master Keith Guilfoyle of Commack, with Steven Cuomo of Shirley in third. Una Broderick of Wantagh took up where she left off in 2011, hitting the finish line tape in 25:36 for first place among the women, with Kali Keyes of East Meadow in second.
Top local Great Neck finishers included 21-year-old Alex Schneider, the talented autistic runner and graduate of the Eden II-Genesis Program that is the beneficiary of the run, who scored in sixth place overall and first in the 25-29 age group; Vivien Lim, who was the first female Master’s runner (age 40-plus) to cross the finish line; Maya Mualem and Victoria Liu, who earned second and third place honors respectively in the women’s 16-19 age group; Nicole Unger, who led all the women in the 25-29 age group; Aiden Ke of Little Neck, who scored second in the 12 and younger age group; Alexis Namdar and Netta Mualem, who took the top two awards in the women’s 13-15 age group; Josh Grossman, who was the second-place finisher in the 25-29 age group; Laura Derose and Mark Berger, who were the third-place finishers in the 40-44 age group; Graham Wilcock, who scored third in the 45-49 age group; Andrea Schaeffer, who took second place among the women in the 50-54 age group; and Andrew Motola, who was the third-place award winner in the 50-54 age group.
Motola, through his Brickwell Cycling and Multisport, was also the generous donor of the bicycle with helmet and accessories worth more than $1,000 that was the grand prize in the post-run drawing.
The event was managed by the Greater Long Island Running Club under the direction of the Eden II-Genesis Program and their mission “to support people with autism throughout their lives to achieve their full potential through service, science and passion.”
The Village of Lake Success and the Great Neck School District made things as easy as possible for the event, and race organizers were extremely grateful for their support, as well as for the help of Nassau County Legislator Ellen W. Birnbaum, who was on hand to present the runners with their awards.