Stepping Stones Lighthouse 5K continues last year’s success

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Stepping Stones Lighthouse
Stepping Stones Lighthouse, as seen from Steppingstone Park, where a race to raise awareness and money for its repairs started and ended. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

More than 100 people from all over Long Island turned out for the second annual Stepping Stones Lighthouse 5K on Sunday morning, in hopes of supporting the historic lighthouse’s restoration.

The race, which began at Steppingstone Park, took runners down Redbrook Road, Gilbert Road and partway down Steamboat Road before taking them down Potters Lane, West Shore Road and back up into Steppingstone Park.

Alice Kasten, the president of the Great Neck Historical Society, said more people had registered for the race than the inaugural race last year and that the group received about the same amount of donations and sponsors.

“It was a lovely day,” Kasten said. “People were very happy.”

One of those people was Sandy Rabeck, 75, who won second place in the 75-79-year-old age bracket. She said that the race was very well done and that she hopes to return for the third time next year.

“I care about the lighthouse,” Rabeck, a Great Neck resident who walked with her husband Stuart, 78, said on Monday. “Historically, it just needs to be kept up – we don’t want to lose it.”

The Stepping Stones Lighthouse was built in 1876 to guide people through the rocky Long Island Sound, according to the Great Neck Historical Society, and continues to aid navigation today.

While the lighthouse remains standing, its interior is essentially gutted and repairs are estimated to cost around $4 million.

Robert Lincoln, the chair of the historical society’s lighthouse restoration committee, said they had a bit of a “scare” on Saturday because a large tree fell around the intersection of Kings Point Road and Steamboat Road.

But PSEG was able to get power back on and the road cleared, Lincoln said, and the race ended up accomplishing three things: bringing people together, raising money for the lighthouse and spotlighting the importance of Stepping Stones Lighthouse.

“The weather was good, we had some serious runners who had excellent times, and it was a good day,” Lincoln said, adding that the exact dollar amount raised isn’t clear yet.

Of the 150 racers listed in the 2018 results for the Stepping Stones Lighthouse 5K, the vast majority of them – 95 – were listed as being from Great Neck. The community with the second most people was Port Washington, with 9 people.

Residents of Mineola, Roslyn, Albertson, Manhasset, Floral Park, New Hyde Park and other communities were also among the participants.

The top three finishers were Rob Murphy of Huntington, who crossed the finish line at 18 minutes and 48.7 seconds, Theo Chang of Great Neck, who finished about two seconds after, and John Phelan of Atlantic Beach, whose finishing time was 20 minutes and 9.3 seconds.

“I think we’ve reached out to people beyond Great Neck who are into running,” Lincoln said. “We seem to be pulling more of them into it and I’m hoping it’s going to grow.”

The 5K is part of an effort by the Great Neck Historical Society, Great Neck Park District and the Town of North Hempstead, which is the steward of the lighthouse, to restore the historic fixture less than a mile from Steppingstone Park.

Kasten said she hopes that a dock being built at the lighthouse, which is a necessary first step for restoring it, will also help bring attention to Stepping Stones.

“I hope that once that dock goes in and people are aware that something in fact is happening out there, that will bring more awareness and that people will be more involved,” Kasten said.

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