From Nicole Unger, who’s been a top finisher in her age (25-29) category in local races, to Nancy Kahn-Rosenthal, who started running on a whim over 35 years ago, to the well-known Schneider family, Great Neck will be well represented among the accomplished runners in this weekend’s Long Island Marathon events.
Unger, a volunteer with the Alert Fire Department for 10 years, has lived in Great Neck all her life, but has only been running since 2010, when she competed in her first 5K (3.1 mile) race. Sunday she’ll run in the full 26.2-mile event.
As to how she began running, she said, “I just started going to the gym and it all started from there. I just enjoyed it.”
Her best time of the three marathons she’s competed in has been 3:16:17 in the Hartford Marathon. In that race, she was 13th in her age category. In the Rockville Centre Run last November, a 10K (6.2) mile race, she was first in her age group and, a year earlier, she was first in both her age group and in the woman’s section of another 10K held in Lindenhurst.
“I think I just decided I was going to run one day and that was it,” said Kahn-Rosenthal, who is the mother of two girls, Sage, a senior softball player at Great Neck North High School, and Peyton, who graduated from North and is about to graduate from the University of Vermont.
The Schneider family, including 24-year-old twins Alex and Jamie, who ran in their fourth Boston Marathon on April 20, will also participate Sunday. Alex will run in the half-marathon, while his mother, Robyn, and Jamie will do the 10K.
All the races start at 8 a.m. on Charles Lindbergh Boulevard, behind Nassau Coliseum, and finish in Eisenhower Park.
The story of the Schneider family, its struggles with the boys’ diagnosis of autism at an early age and Robyn and husband Alan’s own struggles with serious health issues, has been written about and featured internationally.
Robyn has just published a book about the family, Silent Running: Our Family’s Journey
to the Finish Line with Autism (Triumph Books, 2015).
“I went to the track with my cheap sneakers,” Rosenthal-Kahn said, recalling her beginnings as a
runner. “I think I went around seven times, which is a mile and three quarters, and I thought I was going to die. I just went to the track because I wanted to see how far I could run.
She’s kept up a steady pace since then and practices with runs around Great Neck and along the water in Douglaston. She has competed in seven full marathons, including five times in the New York City Marathon. Her best time in New York was in 2008 (4:12).
Kahn-Rosenthal, who has lived in Great Neck for nearly 23 years, has chosen to run the half marathon on Sunday. She hopes to finish the 13.1-mile course in less than two hours. “If I could come in under a minute under two hours, I’d be extremely happy.”
On why she enjoys running, Kahn-Rosenthal answered, “There’s nothing more incredible than the way you feel after a run. It’s always hard. It’s never easy.”
Unger’s goal for Sunday is to run fast enough to qualify for next year’s Boston Marathon. “I need to run in 3:35 or less,” she said. She ran in Boston last year for the first time, but was unable to take off time this year.
“I feel good after finishing a marathon,” added Unger. “All the hard work pays off. With everything leading up to the race, it’s like the icing on the cake.”