The Sayville Summer Series kicked off on June 12 with more than 600 participants making their way to Rotary Park for the sixth-annual Keith Nintzel 5K Memorial Run.
The Summer Series, which consists of four summer running events in Sayville, is sponsored by the The Sayville running Company and Long Island Sports & Rehabilitation.
In the fall of 2004, Keith Nintzel was involved in a fatal car accident while returning to his senior year at Binghamton University after spending the Thanksgiving holiday with his family. In his honor, a scholarship fund was created at Sayville High School for graduating seniors looking to further their education.
The establishment of this competition is an attempt to fund this scholarship in future years and create a lasting tribute to Keith's memory. Keith was a member of the Sayville High School cross country and track teams. All of the proceeds of the event will benefit the scholarship fund.
"This is our sixth year of doing the race and the community just keeps coming out to show its support," said Eric Nintzel, Keith's brother.
Keith's mother Barbara was also on hand, thanking everyone for honoring Keith's memory. "Keith often said to me that joining the Sayville cross country team was one of the best decisions he ever made," Barbara said. "And his words have definitely rung true over the years, as you can see by all of his friends here today, as well as the Sayville community."
Keith's grandfather, Gus Merkel, who was walking the event, added, "This is a great tribute to Keith. I am proud to be here and walking this event in his honor."
A record number of participants have already signed up for the fourth installment of the Sayville Summer Series, which consists of four runs over the summertime, including this one. "We have record numbers already signed up for all four races, and well over 1,000 people registered for next week's run (the Schwamman Diamond Dash, taking place June 19 at Sunrise Drive Elementary)," said Terry Bisogno, announcer for the series. "I am excited to be a part of it all and look forward to announcing the events."
The overall winner of the event was Shawn Pollard (24) of Port Jefferson Station, finishing in 15:50. The overall female winner was Lisa Hetey (38) of Holtsville in 18:31.