Long Island Marathon
Nassau County police have stepped up security at the Long Island Marathon (Michael Damm)

Running events have seen more participation on Long Island in recent years with more creative events surfacing rather than the usual 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon races, participants and organizers say.

Since these events are breaking the mold, a broader audience is joining the running community. Runners USA reported there were almost 14 million finishers of running events nationwide last year, about double what it was a decade ago. That may be in part because unique events appeal to more individuals and substitute competitiveness with fun.

“Instead of thinking about time or beating someone you work as a group to get through the zombie challenges and help everyone out,” said Danielle Halikias, recent finisher of a Zombie run. “It is really easy to make friends there.”

Typical 5Ks are no longer just a 3.1 mile run. They are 3.1 miles of challenging teamwork through mud and obstacles.

The Zombie 5K run, which includes running away from the undead while testing various forms of athletic strength, and 15K Mud Run are among the newest editions to LI’s running events. Last week at Belmont Raceway Park in Elmont was the Run 2 Glow, in which participants run through glow tents powered with UV Blacklights.

Events like these make it easy for people to shed their stress, be a part of something big and meet new people in a healthy atmosphere.

Hofstra University Transfer

“We see these booms whenever economic times are tough,” said Dejan Popovic, the marketing and communications manager at Runner’s Edge in Farmingdale. “People turn to health and wellness as a way to feel good about themselves.”

Registration for these events is easy online and most 5K and 10K races range from $15-30, about the same as eating out at a restaurant. Although the race ends at the finish line, the money raised often extends farther by helping a local charity.

Brendan, from the Sayville Running Company, said the Run to the Brewery donated $15,000 to charity earlier this year.

“The amounts donated to charities could range from $25,000 down to $2,500,” said Terry Bisogno, a professional announcer of LI racing events.

The most popular/unique running events on Long Island  

1. The Diva Half Marathon Oct 6

2.  LI Macarthur Airport 5k Veterans Run June 1

3. Run 2 Glow June 29

4. Runner’s Edge 5k Women’s Run July 13

5. Belmont Stakes Blue Ribbon 5k June 2

6. Sayville Running Company Run to the Brewery 10 miles Jan. 19

7. Long Island Marathon Weekend (Full, Half, 10K, 5K) May 4-5

8. Riverhead Zombie 5K run and 15k mud run Sept. 8

9. New Years Eve Dash January 1

10. Cow Harbor Run Sept. 21

Popular running trails on Long Island

1. Stillwell Woods Mountain Bike Trail in Syosset

2. Bethpage State Park, Bethpage & Massapequa Park

3.Jones Beach State Park along Ocean Pkwy

4. Cedar creek park in Seaford to Jones beach

5. Sunken Meadow Park

6. Rocky Point Mountain Bike Trail

7. Shelter Island trails


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Timothy Bolger is the Managing Editor for the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.