Some 1,400 miles tallied — all in Riverhead and all for veterans

11/11/2011 5:26 PM |

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Participants were all smiles after the event.

An estimated 120 people spent all or part of 24 hours running or walking around downtown Riverhead on Thursday night and Friday, Veteran’s Day, in order to help a local organization that helps homeless veterans.

The Second Annual Riverfront 24 Endurance Run/Walk, which started at 3 p.m. Thursday, is designed to raise money and awareness for the Suffolk County United Veterans group, a non-profit that’s headquartered in Riverhead and operates a shelter for homeless veterans in Yaphank.

Chris Cuddihy of Riverside first organized the run last year, when it was just him running the entire 24 hours, with some help from friends and relatives along the way. This year, the run was opened to other runners or walkers. They were asked to make a $25 donation to SCUV, either at the event or on SCUV’s website.

Many of the runners were in teams that took turns running.

“We dont know how much we raised, but we exceeded what we did last year,” Mr. Cuddihy said at the conclusion of the run. “We had 80 runners registered, and at least another 40 just showed up and through five bucks in the donation jar.”

The course, which went along Main Street, Peconic Avenue, the riverfront and around the Hyatt Hotel, measured about 1.1 miles per lap.

John Lynch, the executive director of SCUV, ran 12 laps himself.

“The turnout was very good,” he said. “I was surprised because of the weather and the conditions and the flooding when it started.”

Among those running were Sam Cila of Riverhead, an Iraq War veterans who lost part of his left arm in action, and who now competes in endurance events all over the country.

“It was awesome,” Mr. Cila said. “Coming out here for Veteran’s Day is better than anything I’ve ever done. Anytime I can support the men and women that make my family safe, and allow us to live where we live and how we live, I’ll come out and sacrifice a little any day of the week.”

He also said the run was challenging.

“My legs are hurting more than they did after Ironman,” he said, referring to the Ironman World Championships, which he competed in in October.

Also running the Riverfront 24 was Amy Palmeiro-Winters. She competes in marathons and triathlons despite having lost a leg in a motorcycle accident, and she holds 11 world records.

How does this event rank with those?

“I’d say it ranked at the top, just because of who it benefitted,” she said Friday.

Sean Clark, an Eastport-South Manor High School junior who runs on the cross country team, had the most laps in the Riverfront 24, having run the equivalent of 84 miles, which is more than what Mr. Cuddihy ran last year, when he did the event by himself.

The combined total of the runners in the event was 1,363 miles, Mr. Cuddihy said.

“Next year, it’s going to be bigger and better…and hopefully warmer,” Mr. Cuddihy said.

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