Oz Pearlman flashed his cards as he crossed the Southampton Rotary Club Firecracker 8K finish line.
The magician, mentalist, speaker, and athlete set to perform at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Saturday, July 13, nearly snapped his fingers and teleported to the end of the July 7 course at Agawam Park. He traveled the 4.97 miles in 27 minutes, 36.68 seconds.
For Pearlman, the first-place finish was serendipitous. The 36-year-old said he would never have run the race if it wasn’t for bumping into a friend in the Stop & Shop parking lot who told him about the event. The magician signed up on the spot Sunday morning.
“It’s a gorgeous day, picture perfect,” Pearlman said. “I know the first few miles because I run here in the summer.”
The Manhattan-based athlete competed in a 100-mile ultra-marathon in May. He’s also taken part in the Hamptons Marathon three times, finishing first in 2014. Pearlman typically runs 120 miles a week when training, and 75 when he’s not, getting outside five or six days a week.
Although the day was a humid one, he said once he hooked onto Halsey Neck Lane and down roads he didn’t know, it was windy and cool.
Caroline Lefrak, 35, of New York City, also liked the shady parts of the course. Competing in the race that benefits the rotary’s club’s scholarship fund since she was 20, the 2011 winner who also holds the women’s record (27:05:00) once again found herself atop the leaderboard, as the first female and second overall with a time of 28:27.46. She remained alongside third-place finisher Sergio Avramenko most of the way before making a mad dash down the final stretch. The 34-year-old’s time was 28:48.96.
“I kind of used him for a while, just stuck with him,” Lefrak said. “It’s always nice to have someone around.”
Running 50 to 60 miles a week, and even to the start line Sunday, the Southampton summertime resident plans on doing more local races as she works her way up to a half marathon this fall. She said taking part in the Southampton event in memory of past rotary district governor Roy Wines Jr. was a no-brainer.
“It’s so easy to do . . . I had home course advantage for sure,” she said. “Everyone is so friendly. It’s very uncomplicated. There’s great volunteers and great staff. It’s a fun event.”
Lefrak, who has been running since she was 14, has been easing her way back into marathons following a running hiatus to start a family. She said her husband and kids love it just as much as her.
“We’re a running family,” she said. “It felt great to get back on the course. It’s a great stress relief.”
Brian Schneider, 35, finished third for the men in 29:26.96. Tenke Zoltani, 34, who finished sixth overall, placed second for the females in 30:25.44. Hannah Connolly-Sporing, 22, clocked in 11th overall and third for females in 31:51.57. Thomas Arnold, 15, who finished seventh (30:34.45), was the first competitor under 20 to complete the course. Erin Conroy, 31, was first in the three-mile walk (45:05.91).
Arnold had gotten off to a strong start, but Pearlman pulled away from the pack before the first mile marker. The magician kept a consistent pace, averaging 5:33 a mile, and remained comfortably separated from the runner ups, although he continued to push forward as if someone was “breathing down his neck.”
“I never looked behind me, but you know when you get to the water stations if people are behind you, because they say, ‘Way to go,’” Pearlman said. “You wait to hear them say it to the next person, but I didn’t hear it.”
Although there weren’t any people standing in his way, there was a pack of geese and a family of ducks crossing the road down the home stretch.
“They just got out of the way for me to sneak through,” Pearlman said, adding once he passed them he saw his son Theodore at the finish line, which gave him an extra boost. “I didn’t have to do any hurdling, but once I saw the red finish line and my son so excited, for the first time in the race I gave myself the look back, knew I was in the money, and I made the cards appear.”