While most Levittown students were sleeping late on May 5, the track team from Division Ave. High School was up bright-and-early unwrapping thousands of medals that were given to the finishers of the 2012 Long Island Marathon at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, NY.
Besides the "trackies" who volunteered their time to unwrap medals and hand out water to the finishers, three Division Ave. student-athletes participated in the half-marathon and one completed the full 26.2-mile marathon.
Rachel Murdukhayev, who completed the half-marathon with Division Blue Dragons teammates Christopher Bradley and Jen Addamo, said "Completing a half-marathon, especially for the first time, is challenging, long, grueling, and above all else, and inner struggle for strength."
With one of Long Island's elite track coaches Patty Kurz-Kolodnicki at the helm, it's hardly surprising that Division's finest showed support for the local "running" community by participating in this storied annual event.
Kurz-Kolodnicki, affectionately known in Levittown as Coach K., coached elite student-athletes like All-New York State track standouts Kristen Stuart and Ryan Billian over the last two years, but perhaps her finest work has come in the form of encouraging her team to participate in charitable and volunteer endevours.
"The team was there handing out medals and water," Murdukhayev added of Division's track community outreach efforts that afternoon. "As for me, I crossed the finish line to my family and track family. Having their support meant the world to me. There was an overwhelming energy at the end, and it was a strange mix of joy and relief."
Division track standout Christian Magorrian finished the 26.2-miler, for his first full marathon. According to Kurz-Kolodnicki, the team plans to volunteer again next year and several other students will run in either the half or full marathons in 2013.
The team put together a YouTube video of their experience from the event, and they are working with Team Up 4 Community to help raise money for future charity work.
The Long Island Marathon has been growing each year, and the 2012 installment of it was perhaps its biggest to date. Thousands of runners came from far and wide to give it their all for the top spot as Long Island's best track athlete.
29-year-old Astoria resident Emiliano Garcia finished first overall with a net time of 2:36:21, and Lindsey Block of Huntington, NY, was the top female finisher with an unofficial time of three hours.
Eric Holden has been covering Long Island high school sports since 2009. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
Personal Source, Division track and field coach Patty Kurz-Kolodnicki and Division track star Rachel Murdukhayev