Bountiful Turnout at Montauk Turkey Trots

“All the money after we pay our expenses will go to the Montauk Food Pantry.”
Thanksgiving Day’s Turkey Trot turnout was the largest yet, as the above photo, taken as the hordes headed up Montauk’s Edgemere Road, ought to attest. Jack Graves

The weather was good on Thanksgiving Day, warmer apparently than was expected, so the turnout at the East Hampton Town Recreation Department and John Keeshan Realty’s three and six-mile Turkey Trots in Montauk was bountiful.

So bountiful, in fact, that the 10 a.m. start time had to be pushed back 15 or 20 minutes so that the long lines of day-of-race attendees could be registered.

“All the money after we pay our expenses will go to the Montauk Food Pantry,” said Keeshan, who founded this race (as a six-miler) 41 years ago. “On this day of giving thanks it seems right that the food pantry should be our beneficiary.”

Bob Beattie, the race director, said before everyone lined up at the Circle that he thought the tally of participants might reach 1,000, which would have been a first. It was a first anyway, inasmuch as there were 688 finishers in the three-miler and 84 in the six, for a total of 772. “There were 650 last year, and that was the record until today,” said Beattie. “We’ve been setting turnout records for the past few years now.”

Billy O’Donnell, who has participated in Keeshan’s Thanksgiving Day runs since the beginning, suggested that “they put up a tent on the Circle to handle the registrations from now on. It’s a bottleneck in there,” he said, pointing to the lines about to descend the stairs in the small Chamber of Commerce building across the street from the start-finish line.

The Berglin twins, Nicholas and Christian, of Hampton Bays, who are collegiate runners now, were runners-up — Nicholas in the three, less than a second behind Dylan Fine, a Georgetown runner, whose time was given as 15 minutes and 38.4 seconds, and Christian in the six, several minutes behind Tim Rossi, 25, a Central Park Track Club member, Emory College alumnus, and part-time Sag Harborite who, while he was not listed among the six-mile finishers (Carlo DiFlorio was credited with the win, in 32:59.1), said, when asked afterward, that he had been the winner, which, if so, would have been a four-peat for him, dating to 2014.

Rossi, who has run a half-marathon in 1:15.59, bettered last year’s time by about a minute. But what he was happiest about, he said, was that his father, Steve, who had undergone quadruple bypass surgery about six months ago, was among those who walked the three-miler that day.

Alyssa Bahel, a Denison University field hockey player and runner, was the first female finisher (seventh over all) in the six, in 40:02.4, nine seconds ahead of Barbara Gubbins, 57, thus reversing their placements in 2015’s six-miler.

Rossi said he had been a soccer player to begin with, but switched to competitive running “at this race about six or seven years ago.” 

This writer was not able to catch up with Fine, though Rossi said he was an Amagansett summer resident spending the holiday with his family there.

A number of East Hampton High School’s 2015 and 2017 county-champion cross-country runners were on hand, though Erik Engstrom, the former county champion who is now among the University of Massachusetts’s top runners, sat it out.

Eric Perez, a 2015 graduate, was the third-place finisher in the three-miler, behind Fine and Nicholas Berglin, in 16:38.6. Omar Leon and Ethan McCormac, members of this year’s county-championship team, were sixth and seventh, each in 17:59.2, and Ryan Fowkes, who led the Bonackers this fall, was listed as third in the six-miler, in 36:22.8.

Keira Hughes was the three-miler’s female winner (and 10th over all), in 18:21.7. Bella Tarbet, a ninth grader who, with Ava Engstrom (Erik’s younger sister and a ninth grader as well) led East Hampton’s girls cross-country team this fall, was the runner-up, in 19:33.1. She was 19th over all.

When the question of Fine’s time came up, and whether it was a record, Kevin Barry, East Hampton’s longtime coach, said he doubted it. Artie Fisher’s name always comes up in such discussions, as does Wojtek Wysocki’s. He, himself, Barry said, had run a 15:40 on the way to his second counterclockwise loop around Fort Pond in the not-so-distant past.

Dylan Fine, the three-miler’s winner, runs for Georgetown, the runner-up, Nicholas Berglin, a SUNY Oneonta runner, said. Jack Graves