Running: Kenyans triumph in 40th Shelter Island 10K

Eliud Ngetich smiled when a reporter joked that his participation in the 40th annual Shelter Island 10K Run Saturday amounted to a long cooldown.

The Kenyan who lives in Queens turned in quite a performance that was even more impressive, considering what he had done earlier in the day. Ngetich was the first to cross the finish line at Fiske Field in Shelter Island Saturday evening, quite an achievement in itself. The thing is, it wasn’t the first race he won that day. Afterward, Ngetich told reporters he had won a five-kilometer race in Queens in the morning.

Crazy stuff, man!

“I’m really happy with myself,” Ngetich, 25, said. “I mean, I won two races in a day. Yeah, it’s a big day, yeah. Really, I’m happy about it.”

What’s not to be happy about? Ngetich clocked 29 minutes, 49.19 seconds in Shelter Island. Running a 4:48 mile pace, he posted a nearly identical time to his second-place Shelter Island finish in 2017 — 29:47.37.

Then again, this second race of the day for Ngetich wasn’t about time. “I just wanted to win,” he said.

The race got off to a fast pace. Too fast for Ngetich’s liking.

“We took off [at] like a 4:20” mile pace, he said. “I’m like, ‘No, I can’t do that.’ So, I was way behind everybody. I was like 10th or something.”

Regardless, Ngetich worked his way toward the front. He completed the first five kilometers in 14:37.11 and was third. At that point, he said, he felt good about his chances. “I had a lot left in the tank,” he said.

Ngetich’s nearest competitor was Tariku Demelash Abera of New York City (29:59.71). He was followed by Urgesa Kedir Figa of New York City (30:02.53), Temesgen Habtemariam Bekele of New York City (31:22.74) and Nicholas Filippazzo of Wantagh (31:35.14).

Two former Shoreham-Wading River High School runners finished among the top 10 men. Ryan Udvadia of Albany was sixth in 31:40.96, his fastest time on the course, and Keith Steinbrecher of Arlington, Mass., was ninth in 33:10.60.

Shelter Island High School standout Kal Lewis, 17, was the first Shelter Islander to finish. He was 20th in 38:20.39.

The weather conditions were sunny and windy.

“Spectators are going to like the wind because it cools them down when it’s hot, but the runners aren’t going to like it because when you got wind at your face, it’s going to slow you down,” Udvadia said. “You’ve go to exert more energy.”

A Kenyan won the women’s race as well. Catherine Mwanzau, 19, of Lansing, Mich., made her first Shelter Island appearance one to remember. Mwanzau was the eighth runner overall in 33.03.24.

Did she expect to win?

“No,” she answered. “You never know.”

Did she feel good during the race?

“No,” she said.

It’s a scenic, but challenging course, with rolling hills. Mwanzau liked that. “It’s very festive,” she said, “many people cheering.”

The next woman to finish was Feyne Gudeto Gemeda of New York City (33:41.24). Simegn Abnet Yeshanbel of Bayfield, Colo., (34:03.66) was third, Lindsey Scherf of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., (34:12.06) fourth and Esther Wanjiru of Lansing, Mich., (34:41.03) fifth.

Ngetich, who had never run two races on the same day before, said the field was “good,” and that only amplified his sense of accomplishment. Grinning, he said, “I’m enjoying it double.”

A Gotts victory in 5K

Samuel Gotts, 26, of New York City won the 5K race in 17:58.96. Walter McNamara of Brooklyn (19:46.15) took second place, Pavel Alexanderou of Long Island City (20:03.92) was third, David Carles of Staten Island (20:21.73) fourth and Harrison Carter of Southampton (20:37.94) fifth. Two Shelter Islanders finished among the top 10. Pacey Cronin (21:09.60) came in sixth and Theo Oisnkiwicz (21:13.40) eighth.

Rose Hayes, 15, of East Moriches was the first female in 21:23.68. The next three places were taken by New York City runners — Nicoleta Hardesty (22:17.67), Grace Cleary of (23:15.05) and Nicole Lipp (23:31.61). Janet Floyd of Boston (23:46.53) followed them for fifth.

Peter Hawkins, 55, of Malverne won the wheelchair race in 37:30.71. His competition, William Lehr, 61, of Shelter Island was second in 41:06.07.

Photo caption: Eliud Ngetich, a Kenyan who lives in Queens, meets the press following his victory in the 40th annual Shelter Island 10K Run. It was his second win of the day. (Credit: Bob Liepa)

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