Our hills are the perfect metaphor for life itself. Always a constant struggle. Never gets easier just more familiar. You fall you bounce up again. You triumph you celebrate with family and friends. You help those in need and rely on them when you fail. It’s a journey not a destination. Enjoy each hill, each moment, because the ride doesn’t last forever
This story was published on longislandpress.com, written by our own Jamie Franchi after the Run for the Hill of it Race.
They call themselves the Selden Hills Warriors.
If you ask me, the word “warrior” gets thrown around a little too casually these days. This isn’t Sparta. We don’t wear armor or battle with swords. These are mostly corporate folks, after all, running in their spare time. Athletes, certainly. But warriors? Let’s just say I had my doubts, right up until I pulled into the parking lot that now houses a brand new Aldi’s on Middle Country Road, where runners crowded around a light pole marked with a Selden Hills sticker, their starting point for the most treacherous running course on Long Island.
Behind my sticker-less minivan, athletes decked out in matching red gear stretched their limber bodies, readying themselves to tackle the nefarious “Hills of the Seven Sisters,” the steep mounds that mark the tough terrain of this 10k course, known to these runners as “The Seven Beasts.”
“These are serious runners,” I texted my friend Mike “Chicken” Butitta, a runner whose boundless energy and enthusiasm for every single thing in the world, especially these hills, piqued my curiosity back when my running sneakers were safely in my closet, collecting dust. “I’m not getting out of my car. Let’s go to IHOP instead.”
Chicken has been a Hillbilly (as they call themselves) since October 2013. At first, he ran to take off excess weight and to get in better shape. He runs local races with his wife (and my friend) Kelli, setting achievable goals and then smashing them. But something about the Hills calls to him. Later I found out what.
Alas, that Sunday morning, Chicken didn’t have his phone with him, and would not receive my text until long after I’d finished the 6.2 mile run and was icing my sore knees on my couch at home. That turned out to be a good thing, because as delicious as Nutella pancakes are, had I turned away from the Selden Hills running group that morning, I would have missed out on a life-changing experience with some of the most incredible people living right here on Long Island.
“I love all the inspirational stories that people on the Hills have and I love that so many are just nice,” he texted me later when he had his phone. “Some of the best people I’ve met anywhere. They are so supportive at races or anywhere you run into a fellow Hillbilly.”
Lou LaFleur, director and organizer of the Selden Hills Warriors, doesn’t have a long history of running. In fact, it wasn’t until 1999 when he was 43 years old and saw a sign for the Shelter Island 5k hanging in the post office where he worked as a federal agent that he decided to try it out. It was a tough race, but he was hooked. He currently competes in approximately 50 races per year and serves on the board of directors for the Greater Long Island Running Club (GLIRC).
By 2010, LaFleur was looking to increase his times with varied training: track work, some tempo runs, long runs. He’d read in Runner’s World that running on hills provides a complete training. The only problem? We live on a flat island.
Or do we?
Lately, the last thing I ever want to do is run. Yep. Me, this girl, has lost her mojo. So, what made me decide to take on the 25K Scream Machine course?
Lack of oxygen to my brain? I had a lobotomy? I’m a pod person? Peer pressure? The compulsive need to want to be part of the “first crew” to run. How about none of that, or maybe, all of it. Read more
At the first Cherry Ave 10k, in 2014, a cold and cloudy day where only the award winners hung around, I was chatting with a few of the ladies as we waited for our bling. I didn’t take note of their names, if we even introduced ourselves. Six or seven months later, after looking back randomly at the race results (and then with the ensuing conversation), I realized that I’d been hanging out that day with Victoria Gianninoto and Shelly RB and Marie Trav (who made quite a fabulous Alice in Wonderland). Brianne Langstaff I remember flying past me on the course in a cape. I also apparently met Margaret Rivero at the 2015 Brewery Run and chatted with her the whole way back from the finish to the party! And of course when I first saw NFBE at a race, I was momentarily confused, because “isn’t that the UPS guy!?” kiki emoticon
So my question is, did any of you meet any of your fellow Warriors before you MET them?
During the half marathon somewhere between mile 10 and being delirious Taylor Swift’s Wildest Dreams was recreated to the Selden Hills “Wildest Runs” remix. Enjoy!
He said let’s get out of this town
Drive out to the Selden hills
Away from the crowds
I thought heaven can’t help me now
Nothing lasts forever
But this is gonna take me awhile
The course is so long and hilly as hell
He’s so fast and he does it so well
I can see the end as it begins, my one condition is Read more
To all my friends running their first full marathon or half marathon I wish the best of luck to you. I hope the following inspires you today and every day you lace up your running shoes. Life is boring without challenges. Embrace them. Be not afraid of the unknown. You will conquer that next hill I promise!!
RUNNING IS LIFE.
As I lay in bed trying to get some sleep before the inaugural Suffolk County Marathon/ Half Marathon, of which I will be running the less daunting distance, my thoughts reflected back to the growth of our Selden Hills running group over just the last two years. Read more
Submitted by Michelle Rizzo-Berg
Today! 6 Warriors decided to take on the task of joining other Warriors for what has been dubbed the Selden Hills “Meat Grinder 20K” course. With 5 water bottles and this time 2, yes 2 backpacks, we were on our way. What some of the others may not have known, was that these 7 warriors were taking on the task of adding additional flat miles before and after the hills! As we began our journey, we ascended up the hills of Adirondack, tackling each mile with confidence. We galloped up Rosemont smiling and as we heading up Berkshire we started to wonder what was up ahead. Though one never knows what they will discover on the hills and today it was a drunk man at the edge of his driveway passed out with his pants off and ass hanging out. We saw him move, so we knew he probably just tied one on the night before and we headed on our way. As we went to turn left on Bluepoint, what we thought at first was a mirage was actually the long flowing locks of Rick. He graciously handed us water and we were once again on our way. We found the mysterious cardboard sign sending us right onto the side streets of the hills and “oh no” we were lost. We had no idea which street to turn on!!! We of course paid zero attention to Lou’s directions. Or actually, we didn’t retain any of the info. Thankfully 2 of the Magnificent 7 were near and they guided us in the right direction. THANK YOU. As we headed south again on Bluepoint we saw what we thought was another mirage but we were so thrilled to see the SH flag and find Lou, Gills and Mary waving us in and provided us with delicious treats. Then, we got the horrible news. We had to head up portion road and then turn right onto another street and once we completed that loop we were to head back south AGAIN to pass Lou for the Slaughterhouse wrap around. WTF??? At that point I think we all wondered who had the bright idea to do this!!! Oh, and I forgot to mention, we had a newbie with us!!!! Though I’m pretty sure she won’t speak to any of us anymore. So, as we passed Lou (AGAIN) we were onto our final leg. Up north on Bluepoint we went and then, ugh, the dreaded turn off onto the final and last loops. As we were heading towards them we see john Oakley casually strolling out of locust onto his decent to the pole. We turn onto Laurel, we pass the plastic “slow down” people, “OMG, we know the end is near”…the ugly lion statues…almost there. Samantha REALLY must hate us twice as much! Finally, we get back onto Bluepoint and we take it to the end! 12.5 miles, done! Oh. and 3 of us went back out for two more miles after we started at 5am for the first 2. Today, the “Superb Six” completed the Slaughterhouse Sausage Meat grinder 12.5 plus 4 more 16 mile total run! We survived.