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North country athletes recall memorable NYC Marathon

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One week ago, more than 50,000 runners streamed over the Verrazano Bridge to start what would be a New York City Marathon no one would ever forget.

Among those runners was a Brooklyn native and a Rochester emergency room nurse, each of whom have called the north country home.

They ran in the marathon because they couldn’t last year or because others never will. They ran in it to be part of something historic. The 2013 NYC Marathon included a record 50,740 runners, more than two million spectators and 47 bomb-sniffing dogs. At least 5,000 more runners than usual surged to the event after Hurricane Sandy canceled the 2012 marathon and a bombing devastated last April’s Boston Marathon.

Because those who signed up to run the 2012 marathon were automatically registered for their choice of the 2013, 2014 or 2015 marathon, entering was more difficult than ever. The remainder of spots were up via lottery or runners could apply to run for a charity team.

Here are the stories of two of the north country athletes who finished Sunday’s marathon:

ANGIE PIKE-FENTON

Angie Pike-Fenton’s father asked his daughter who had just completed the NYC Marathon whether this was her last marathon. She did not say “yes.”

“I have been running for the last 20 years and have no intention of stopping,” said Pike-Fenton, a native of Russell and graduate of Edwards-Knox who lives outside of Rochester.

Pike-Fenton has participated in five marathons and last Sunday was her first NYC Marathon. She was selected to be a part of the American Heart Association Team and ran the race in honor of her mother, who died at age 40 after suffering a heart attack.

“I turned 40 this year and wanted to do something special to honor her,” Pike-Fenton said. “It also put it in perspective just how young she was when she passed. I am running marathons at 40 and she dies at 40, seems unreal.”

Pike-Fenton, who was still in school when her mother died, is a nurse practitioner who works at a level one emergency trauma center in Rochester. Her husband is an emergency room doctor and they have 3-year-old twins and a 22-month-old daughter, which means sacrifices.

“It does require creative scheduling,” she said, “including getting up at 4:30 to run before the children get up, then taking them to preschool and going out for another run to get my miles in for the day.”

Pike-Fenton completed her first NYC marathon in 4 hours, 34.06 minutes, which was off her goal of 4:22. The number of runners, windy conditions and elevation hampered her time. But she completed her mission, with many people from Canton, Hermon and Russell donating on her behalf to the AMA and thousands of spectators rooting for her.

“I wore my name on my race shirt and must have had well over a thousand people screaming ‘go Angie’ in their strong Brooklyn accents,” she said. “I was in awe of the support.”

SALVATORE CIULO

If not for Hurricane Sandy, last Sunday would have been Salvatore Ciulo’s third straight NYC marathon.

A Brooklyn native who runs the Bridge Program at the Watertown Urban Mission, Ciulo was automatically eligible to participate in the 2013, 2014 or 2015 marathon. He made sure he was at this one.

“I picked 2013. With all the build-up, after last year and Boston, I wanted to be there,” said Ciulo, 55.

He admitted he did think about a terrorist event or “some kid lighting off a cherry bomb and they would halt the race,” but he was reassured by the security at the marathon.

“There had to be two police officers for every runner,” he said.

Ciulo completed the race in 5:23, which was 45 minutes off the average time for the veteran of 16 marathons. He suffered a foot injury at mile 14 and completed the 26.2-mile course in pain.

“I thought it was my sneaker … but the pain wouldn’t go away,” he said. “Around mile 19, 20, I knew if I kept walking, I wouldn’t make it, so I ran the rest of the way. The crowd gets you through it.”

Ciulo has competed in a number of marathons in Canada, as well as in Vermont and New Jersey, and in-state marathons in Rochester, Buffalo and Niagara Falls. He recently competed in his first “ultra marathon” of 31.5 miles at Niagara on the Lake in Ontario.

In between marathons, you can find him on the streets of Watertown, running. “People know me as that guy who runs everywhere,” Ciulo said.

“I’m not a gym guy,” he added. “I don’t go to Planet Fitness, not that I’m knocking any of that at all. I’m a social runner.”

Ciulo is already excited to compete in the Honolulu Marathon next month and has realized his dream of being an athlete that started as a child.

“I wanted to be a catcher of the New York Mets when I grew up,” he said. “But you know, that’s never going to happen. I’m not going to play shortstop for the New York Yankees. But a marathon, I can do that.”

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