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Gristmill: In Mrs. Sage’s Footsteps

Wed, 09/21/2022 - 12:02
At the Mash Park 5K, it was Pierson’s Greylynn Guyer, first among 15-to-19 females, Sara O’Brien, first among the 11-to-14s, and Bennett Greene, fourth in that group.
Julie O’Brien

Some thoughtful soul had a notion to perch the storied Sag Harbor Community Band at the top of the John Jermain Library steps for a swan song of a summertime performance dedicated to the runners in Sunday’s Mashashimuet Park benefit 5K.

It might’ve been the happiest touch to a day of nothing but good will, and not only that, there were as many music stations as there were water stations, what with the folkie Nancy Remkus, once of the elementary school’s morning program, serenading the red-of-face pounding past the rear of the Old Whalers Church, and, farther on, Pierson’s science-teaching Schumacher brothers percussing bongos and guitar over by the high school.

This was a new course for the second-year road race, a certified 3.1-mile loop beginning and ending near the just-renovated park grandstand, no tick-thick woods, almost all asphalt but remarkably shaded, an attractive swath of waterfront over by Baron’s Cove, and gently hilled, with one bout of a decent climb up Marsden Street, where your friendly neighborhood correspondent could be found shouting at his sweet, 14-year-old, cross-country-running daughter, “Get up that hill, Marine!” (I don’t think she heard me.)

It is thus humbly submitted that the new kid on the block is the best course out here. Wait, you say, what about the always-popular Shelter Island 5 and 10K? Well, that’s a whole other island, its own town, even, and geographically more North Fork, spiritually more New England, than our South Fork. Southampton? There are races there supporting good causes, for sure, but the courses are duller, and, worse, more open to the merciless beating down of a hotter-than-ever sun.

The interesting thing is, Sag Harbor’s is a course that’s actually themed. Around the life, ancestors, and gifts to the village of Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage, or as I like to call her, “the colossus of Sag Harbor philanthropy.” If you wanted to, as you ran along you could check off a list, from the park itself to the library, from her well-columned mansion-turned-museum to the John Jermain House across the street where her mother grew up, to the high school (and a more stereotypically perfect structure you won’t find this side of Archie Comics’ Riverdale High), and on and on. You can watch a fun YouTube video about it all on the race’s website.

So, a fund-raiser for the park, eh? I move for a refurbishing of those little-if-ever-used horseshoe and bocce courts over yonder in the half-sand, half-grass outskirts. Hey, we can’t all play pickleball.

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