Before the start of the Run to Remember 5K at Riverhead High School Sunday morning, Luke Coulter assured his former coach, Patrick Burke, that he would win.
He had reason to be confident. After all, he was one of the top runners in school history as a member of the Blue Waves when he graduated in 2016. Having recently completed his sophomore year at Stony Brook University as a member of the school’s cross country and track teams, Coulter was primed for a strong time amid the field of 182.
As Coulter breezed across the finish line at the high school parking lot, Mr. Burke — an assistant principal at Riverhead — held the microphone and said to Luke: “You told me you were to win. I kind of knew it.”
Coulter’s time was 15 minutes, 53.79 seconds — more than two minutes ahead of the next competitor.
Coulter, 19, had just taken a week off from running following the end of the collegiate season and the race was an opportunity to stretch out his legs again to begin his offseason workouts. The collegiate season kicks back into gear in late August.
“I remember all the hard work I put in,” Coulter said about running at his former high school. “Running with all my friends. All the countless memories.”
In his senior season at Riverhead, Coulter set multiple school records across several events and was the winner of the News-Review’s Athlete of the Year award for Riverhead.
Tara Farrell, 39, of East Quogue was the top female finisher, placing fifth overall in 19:19.80. A familiar face among road races on the East End, Farrell has been a prior winner of the Long Island Marathon. She said she’s more focused on smaller races these days like 5Ks.
“I changed jobs like three years ago so my training is a little different,” she said.
Sunday’s 5K and fun run was the fourth annual race, which is meant as a way to reflect on members of the community who have passed. Inside the high school gym, posters were secured to the wall honoring many names, including recent high school students who died like Danielle Lawrence, John Anderson and Demitri Hampton, who was 21 and attending Suffolk County Community College when he died in 2013.