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.
We have had Olympians Pete Peterson in the early 90’s and 2016 Olympic Gold medalist Mikey Branigan 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. In 2013, Texas Roadhouse of Deer Park offered to provide a post-race BBQ for everyone.
They have been doing that every year since. By 2017, over 2500 runners took part in this great event. In 2016, a Virtual Race component was added, allowing people all over the world to participate.