While North Babylon’s Wil Widman, Jr. became the overall winner of the Alley Pond 5-Mile Challenge, which dates back to the mid ‘80s, Marc Smith of Jamaica finished second in a field of about 300 athletes.
The 48-year-old Widman, who ran at almost a six minute pace, lead almost all the way and covered the slightly new course in 29:32.17. Smith finished a little further back in 30:10.83 and in the process held off John Kane, who was clocked in 30:11.16 in the age group race which drew athletes from the New York City – Long Island area, as there were countless races to choose from on a busy weekend just before the Long Island Marathon.
Over previous years, the race began on Winchester Boulevard just north of Union Turnpike right near Alley Pond Park and finished at its usual spot within the park.
The directors of the race decided to stage the whole event within the park itself and not have to worry about traffic.
Meanwhile, the 30-year-old Smith is a product of Martin Van Buren High School and Brooklyn College. While Smith was at the latter school, Brooklyn did not field a track team.
Smith did not even grow up in New York, for he is a native of Jamaica, West Indies, where he attended Jamaica College High School for one year before he and his family settled in New York.
In Jamaica, Smith was a sprinter and eventually moved up and concentrated on longer distances.
He competed in this Alley Pond race for his sixth time and never was a real contender for top spot until last week. Because he loved the distance races, he was able to increase his outings and moved up the ladder from the 100 and 200 meters.
“I love the endurance,” said Smith, who trains five days a week at Alley Pond Park and competes unattached. This park (located in eastern Queens) has one of my favorite courses.
Smith is thinking about competing in half-marathons or 13.1 mile events one day. When he does not run, he works at his job as a medical engineer.
Otherwise, Smith does not actively participate in any sports, but he considers himself a sports guy. He was involved in soccer, basketball, lacrosse, and golf. He played golf in Douglaston Park and at the North Shore Towers. In his native land of Jamaica, running was his only activity.
The runners loved this new course and want this race to remain in the park itself. It was conduced by the Alley Pond Park Running Club. This course contained one long hill, which the athletes did not mind.