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INTERVIEW: Longtime Runner And Board Member Harry Hackett Reflects On Shelter Island 10Ks 40th Anniversary

Nicole Barylski

Bill Rodgers, Harry Hackett, George A. Hirsch, and a winner of the Hackett challenge. (Courtesy Photo)

The beloved Shelter Island 10K/5K Run/Walk, a USA track and field certified course, is celebrating its 40th anniversary on Saturday, June 15.

This year's event will bring out several special runners, including Benji Durden and Kyle Heffner, who earned spots on the 1980 Olympic team, but did not get the chance to compete in the Moscow Olympics because of the boycott, as well as race regulars Bill Rodgers, former Olympian, four time NYC Marathon winner and four time Boston Marathon winner, and Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic Gold Medal winner and first-ever women's Olympic marathon champion.

In honor of the milestone, we caught up with longtime participant and board member Harry Hackett.

How long have you participated in the race?

HH: I ran the race for a long time before I got involved. I've been running the race for about 25 years, and I've been involved with the race for about 10 years, on the board.

As a runner, what would you say sets the Shelter Island Run apart?

HH: There's no race that I know, out here, that the whole town closes down and all the roads close down in order to have the race. It's sort of like a running Woodstock. I think that that right there, plus the scenery is second to none as well. Also, the residents of Shelter Island get really into it and they mind the course, which is pretty rare. Other races can be a little bit lonely.

As a longtime participant and board member, why was the race a cause you wanted to support?

HH: I really love the race every time I run it. It was sort of a streak I would do each year and sort of train for it. I ran in high school and college. And then after college, I started to do a couple of local road races. This was one of my focal points. I really liked the spaghetti dinner before and it just the whole weekend event. That's really why I got involved in it.

Since this marks the race's 40th year, reflecting back, how has it changed over the years and what are some of your fondest memories?

HH: One of my fondest memories was one of my first dates with a woman, who turned out to be my wife, I ran the Shelter Island Run and broke 40 minutes. That was pretty fun. I always love meeting some of the celebrity type runners. I think it's great that I, through the race, I've met Billy Rogers, who was a childhood hero of mine. Along with Frank Shorter, who was also a childhood hero of mine. It's really neat to be able to run the same race at the same time. Another one of my fondest memories is when I paced Bill Rodgers one year, I ran with him the whole way. It was really amazing - you know, the guy I used to watch on TV when I was a kid. I also love my daughter has a picture in her room with Joan Benoit Samuelson, she won the first Olympic gold medal in I believe 84. It's unbelievable. I just think it's great that these runners come every year. They're just absolutely terrific for their involvement in the race.

Will you be running?

HH: I am running. I'm hoping to break 50 minutes, not 40.

You'll be sponsoring a t-shirt this year. Tell me a little bit about that.

HH: I love the fact that the participation rate for across America with road racing has just jumped through the roof. And everybody gets a medal - I love that and I love doing my 15 minute 10Ks when I was faster. The people that are faster, they just deserve a little bit of extra notification. I just love the fact that we can give a t-shirt to someone who breaks 40 minutes and recognize their dedication to the sport that sometimes goes unrecognized. With everybody getting a finishers medal, I think there should be a little extra for people that you know make the sacrifices to run that fast. We've got 75 t shirts printed it up. I think last year there are 50 people that broke 40 minutes. Anybody who does it - man, woman, somebody in a wheelchair - anybody that breaks 40 minutes is gonna get recognition in the form of this great t-shirt.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

HH: My family and I are really excited about Shelter Island this year. I'm really excited that two runners from the Olympic team from 1980 and the marathon are coming this year. And I'm looking forward to meeting with them and hopefully running with them, if I can run their pace. I still love lacing up my running shoes and running at an 8 minute mile pace, I hope, for Shelter Island this year.

The Shelter Island 10K/5K Run/Walk will commence at 5:30 p.m. Pre-race activities will kick-off at 3:30 p.m. with fun for all ages. There will also be a post-race complimentary BBQ for runners.

In honor of its 40th birthday, Shelter Island is presenting a 1980 running flare contest, judged by the olympians competing.

The admission fee is $40 for the 10K in advance and $50 on the day of the race; $30 for the 5K in advance and $40 on the day of the race, $15 for kids 14-and-under, free for veterans and active military. Proceeds from the race will go to support several East End charities.

For more information, visit www.shelterislandrun.com.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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