Run Around The Lake
The race was started in 1980 by the Ronkonkoma Rotary.
Approximately 35 individuals participated in that inaugural year. From there, the event grew, attracting 750 runners in the early nineties, during the beginning of the Running Craze. At this time, the course was certified as 4 miles. As it was the only 4-mile race on Long Island, we added “The Long Island 4 Mile Championship” to the Run Around the Lake moniker. The number of runners fluctuated between 300 – 500 at the turn of the century. Windows on the Lake owner Anthony Pellegrino graciously offered to host a pre-race Pasta dinner for all the runners, which he has done for over 20 years.
Over the years, we have had Olympians and Paralympians compete. Pete Peterson ran in the early 90’s. Two-time Olympic Race Walker Maria Michta-Coffey grew up in the Ronkonkoma area and participated in the race before representing the United States in 2012 and 2016. 2016 Paralympic Gold medalist and World Record Holder in the 1500m, Mikey Branigan ran the race several times placing first overall in 2012 and 2014. Branigan set the course record of 19:52.0 in 2014.
In 2012, Dan Murphy approached the Ronkonkoma Rotary with a request. Would we consider teaming up with the Michael Murphy Foundation and use the race to honor and remember his son, Navy SEAL LT Michael P. Murphy, and the men who made the ultimate sacrifice during Operation Red Wings. Michael was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Afghanistan. We learned that, not only was Michael from this area, but he actually swam in Lake Ronkonkoma when he was a lifeguard for Brookhaven Town as a youth.
So in 2012, the Navy SEAL LT Michael P. Murphy Run Around the Lake was born. In 2012 almost 900 runners participated, including actor Taylor Kitsch, who played the part of Michael in the movie “Lone Survivor”. In 2014, we felt that an Honorary Chairman would help us to bring further prestige and assist with the promotion of this most worthy cause. Retired Vice Admiral Joseph Maguire, former commander of Naval Special Warfare Command (during Michael’s tenure) filled that role in 2014. In 2015, NYPD officer Steven McDonald, who was shot and paralyzed in the line of duty, and in 2016, NYS Senator and retired Navy Commander Tom Croci filled that role.
From 2013-2019 Texas Roadhouse of Deer Park offered to provide a post-race BBQ for everyone. Their generosity was appreciated by over 75,000 people.
In 2016, a virtual race component was added which allowed people from all over the world to participate. The virtual race was firmly entrenched by 2020 when COVID caused the race to be an entirely virtual event.
By 2017, over 2500 runners took part in this great event.
In 2018 we went to over 3400 runners.
In 2019 we hit an all-time high of over 4,500 runners.
In 2020 we added the half-marathon event and COVID changed our race to an all-virtual event. Our loyal participants recognized that although the “Race was virtual, the needs remained quite REAL” and we had over 2300 virtual participants. It warmed our hearts and propelled us into 2021.
In 2021 we were proud to continue the wonderful tradition Michael has inspired with our race temporarily staging at H. Dennison Building and Blydenburgh Park. Our county executive, Run Committee and race timers (EliteFeats) worked tirelessly to find a venue that would accommodate COVID staffing limitations and that resulted in a beautiful site that rivaled our beloved Lake Ronkonkoma. Our motto was “INNOVATE, ADAPT AND OVERCOME IN TWENTY TWENTY-ONE” AND WE DID!!!
Now in 2022, we are thrilled to return to our beloved Lake Ronkonkoma. We look forward to setting new records and building on our phenomenal progress with your invaluable support, love, and commitment.