Posted by Dylan Fine on Jul 09, 2019
Oz Pearlman and Caroline LeFrak never had to look back.

Both competitors finished first and second overall, finishing less than a minute apart from each other, at the 29th annual Southampton Firecracker 8K on Sunday morning. The race winners, who are two of the most decorated athletes on Long Island, won so convincingly that Pearlman was even able to pull out a deck of cards as he celebrated his victory at the popular Fourth of July weekend race.

Even though he led from start to finish, holding about quarter mile lead for most of the race, Pearlman closed in a 5:10 mile, leaving no doubt, as he crossed the white tape first in 27:36.68. Residing in Manhattan, Pearlman, 36, was unaware about the big gap he had on the rest of the field before the last mile, stating that, “I don’t like looking back because I’ve had so many races where I’ve been edged out in the last half mile.”

A very accomplished runner, Pearlman has previously won the Hamptons Marathon and the Long Island Marathon, and he has taken home the New Jersey Marathon crown a total of four times. He also recently competed in a 100-mile ultra-marathon. Next up for Pearlman is the Brooklyn Marathon in October, a race in which he has finished second on multiple occasions. But the Israel native’s talents extend far beyond his athletic achievements.

While he is not training rigorously for his next competition, Pearlman works a very successful career as a professional mentalist and magician, hence the reason he pulled out a deck of cards as he crossed the finish line. Throughout the years, Pearlman has been featured on popular television programs such as “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” NBC’s “Today Show,” ABC’s “World News Tonight,” and multiple ESPN telecasts. Pearlman’s success culminated in a third place overall finish in Season 10 of “America’s Got Talent” in 2015. He’s also headlining at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center this Saturday, July 13.

LeFrak, who lives in Manhattan as well, ran very even-splits in her 28:27.46 effort as she and third place finisher Sergio Avramenko, a 34-year-old Southampton native, worked together for the majority of the race. LeFrak pulled away at the end, averaging a very impressive 5:43 mile pace over the 8 kilometers. No stranger to winning the Southampton Firecracker race, LeFrak took home her fourth victory at the event.

Spending her summers in Southampton, LeFrak respectfully credited her familiarity with the loop as a factor in her win, claiming that “home course definitely helped me for sure.” However, LeFrak’s past as one of the greatest athletes in Columbia University history suggests that the course had very little impact on who was going to win this race.

The collegiate accolades for the 36-year-old mother of three include being a five-time All-American, a runner-up at the 2005 NCAA Women’s Cross-Country Championships, an Ivy League record holder in the outdoor 10,000 meters, and a nominated athlete for Collegiate Women Athlete of the Year in 2006. She is currently the president and owner of Empire Athletics Management, a New York City-based company focused on managing long-distance runners.

Running in a variety of races spanning from the 5K to the marathon, LeFrak was very complimentary of the 8K event that had a 245-person turnout at 8 a.m. on a Sunday.

“It’s just so easy to compete in this race. You get your number and you line up,” she said. “Also, the race itself has such a friendly atmosphere. It’s a very well-run event.”

Going forward, LeFrak plans to run again sometime soon on Long Island, stating that she may make an appearance at the Joe Koziarz Memorial 5K in Westhampton Beach on July 20.

Brian Schneider, 35, of Westborough, Massachusetts, placed fourth overall in 29:26.96, with Thomas Mazza, 22, of Thousand Oaks, California, rounding out the top five overall in 30:23.02. Tenke Zoltani, 34, of Corsier, Switzerland, was the second female to finish, sixth overall, in 30:25.44. Hannah Connolly-Sporing, 22, of Southampton finished third among women (11th overall) in 31:51.57, followed by Tara Farrell, 40, of East Quogue (15th overall) in 32:49.06 and Brooke Ruffin, 18, of Lutherville, Maryland (19th overall) in 33:28.31.

Full results can be found at

Celebrating its 29th year, the Southampton Firecracker 8K continues to be a staple of Fourth of July weekend in the Hamptons. In addition to the race’s beautiful, flat route around Southampton Village, all profits from the event are put into the Southampton Rotary Scholarship and Endowment Fund.