Sunday, June 17, 2018

A ring side view from the car at Roxbury

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, June 17, 2018


It’s not often that I find myself in the lead vehicle at a race.  Yes, each July I hop in the police car for the Verizon 5K through Morristown, but usually I am a spectator like the rest, or doing my best to finish a race.

This past Monday night was an exception.  The Morris Country Striders were hosting the Roxbury Community Benefit 5K and I was at my usual post, registering runners.  It was getting close to the start time when fellow Strider Steve Austin came over to ask me, “Madeline, would you like to ride in the lead vehicle?”

Ride in his wife Karen’s sporty convertible?  “Sure.”  Was my quick response.

And thus, I was given a ring side seat in watching a three man race with an unlikely twist at the end.

The 2017 and 2016 winner Justin Schedi of Succasunna had entered the race and then, unbeknownst to Scheid, Colin Frost of Randolph, who won the race in 2013 arrived with his application in hand.  Ah, maybe a race.  It gets better.  Randolph’s Seamus Higgins who had just finished his collegiate season arrived.  Higgins waved off a possible duel with Frost and Scheid, saying that he was already winding down with his season over.

Perhaps, but a competitive runner is a competitive runner.  From my view sitting in the lead vehicle as the field surged forward at the start, Higgins was with the other two as they broke away from the 500 other starters. 

Eventually Scheid and Frost separated from Higgins, as he had predicted, and now it was a two man duel.  It was an impressive duel as they reached the two mile mark in under five minute pace.  It was about there that Scheid began to fall back just a step or two.  Could it have been the 15K hilly trail race that Scheid had run on Saturday that took a little toll while Frost had run, and won, the Chatham Fishawack much shorter four mile that same day?

Whatever the edge, Frost was cruising as we entered the Roxbury high school campus and headed toward the finish line at the adjacent middle school.  A beautiful night for running and racing capped with a fast time for the winner.  Frost finished in 15:20 with Scheid just five seconds back in 15:25. Then it hit.  Frost missed Youseff Rochdi’s course record of 15:19 by the smallest of margins - one second.

Higgins held on for third in 16:30. Fellow Randolph resident Rebecca Crawford won the women’s race in 19:28.  Thirteen year old Gabriella Dasakova of Succasunna placed second in 20:48.

While it won’t be a championship and that will likely draw fewer runners, the President’s Cup Night Race 5K will still be competitive.  Featuring a fast course, the race tomorrow night has a long history of fast runners.  In particular on the men’s side as the race was often the open men’s championship.  It was not a championship in 2017 but that didn’t deter Joshua Izewski of Doylestown PA who was on a roll to win the 2017 New Balance Grand Prix.

Izewski finished in 15:16, which in any other race would be a fast time.  Not this race.  Since 1999 twenty three racers have finished in under fifteen minutes.  Gene Mitchell has the fastest time of 14:34 which he did in 2003 when five men finished in under 15 minutes.  That was one heck of a race.


Johanson Field in Boonton is the site of the annual Morris County Striders summer series.  The race features a dead flat 5 kilometer cross country course that is so safe your grandmother could run it.  Over the years the township of Boonton has improved the course to the point you will be running not on grass for about half the race, but on a nicely paved path.  It is still competitive with course records kept over the years along with a best three out of four series for the loyal followers.

Race Results can often be found at or at
A calendar of USATF sanctioned events can be found at or at for running and tri and biathlon events.
Contact Madeline Bost at

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Beautiful Beast lived up to its name

On Sunday, June 10, 2018


It is unlikely that any of the 143 finishers in the Beautiful Beast of Hunterdon 15 kilometer trail race on Saturday would argue with the title.  Just climbing more than half a mile uphill to the finish was a slow-the-pace-to-a-walk beast.  This was the second year that the race was held and the first to be designated a New Jersey Trail championship.

After the race in 2017, Ed Neighbour of Sparta, the USATF Long Distance Running chair suggested to Managing Director Terry Mullane that he invite the race organizers to apply for championship status.  The suggestion was well received by the race director Eric Eisenhart.
Justin Scheid of Succasunna leapt to the lead at the start when the field completed a small loop on the ESC Hoffman’s Crossing Campus before plunging down the hill that would become the beast on the way back.  He was followed by Patrick Neighbour of Millford, Dominic Grillo of Whitehouse Station, and Lou Palma of Clinton.

The runners disappeared down the Columbia Trail heading east to a turnback onto the local roads paralleling the trail.  From there the course headed toward the Ken Lockwood Gorge with awesome views of the river and falls before taking a trip into the gorge with a beastly climb back out to the trail and heading back to the finish.

When Scheid reappeared, he had a nearly two and a half minute lead over Grillo, who was now in second place.  Palma had overtaken Neighbour and that is how they finished back at the campus.  The surprise finisher was Kristen Prendergast, 37, of Annandale who finished in fifth place in 1:01:51, ahead of the course designer Frank Batiste of Flemington who finished in 1:03.19.
Scheid’s time was 53:06, Grillo’s 55:59 and Palma’s 57:00.


The Roxbury Community Benefit 5K in Succasunna Monday night will seem virtually flat after the 15K beast race.  The race, that starts on Eyland Avenue in front of the Eisenhower Middle School has a small pop up hill in the first mile and another slight grade in the final mile.  That grade is rewarded with one of those wonderful downgrades that fools you into thinking you are flying when in fact you have the pull of gravity speeding your pace. 
Registration at the middle school begins at 5:00 pm, with the race starting at 7:00 pm.  This is a community focused race that attracts plenty of runners from around Morris county and beyond.  In 2017 over five hundred runners competed.
While the sweet course might be a draw, the post race goodies could also be a factor in the turnout.  Pizza, nutrition bars, yogurt and ice cream from the local favorite Cliff’s ice cream makes the price of admission a bargain.

Two New Jersey masters teams had a good day last weekend in Ann Arbor Michigan competing at the masters half marathon championship.

Finishing in first place was the Garden State Track Club New Balance, with Jonathan Frieder of Rye Brook NY in the lead.  Frieder finished fifth overall and first in his M45 age division.  He was followed by Sam Tiegan of Hawthorne who finished just behind Frieder in 1:14:58. Aaron Cooper of Englewood was next for the team with Gary Leaman of Hawthorne back-up man. Leaman finished in third place in the M55 age division.

Reno Stirrat of Rockaway was the top man on the M60 Shore Athletic Club team that placed second to the Atlanta Track Club.  Stirrat finished in 1:26:44 for seventh in the highly competitive M60 division. 

The Garden State team has a lock right now on first place in the season long team grand prix.  With just one more good race they will overcome a weak finish in last December’s club cross country 10kilometer race.  Only the highest scoring five races are counted in the grand prix and the poor races are dropped.  Next up for the teams is the 5K championship in Atlanta in August.


Roberta Groner of Randolph has done it again.  At Saturday’s New York Mini Marathon 10K Groner finished in 11th place and first master woman in 34:10. Not to be outdone, Morristown’s Nora Cary was the first W60 woman to finish with time of 44:28.   Both women age graded above 91% PLP.


Race Results can often be found at or at
A calendar of USATF sanctioned events can be found at or at for running and tri and biathlon events.
Contact Madeline Bost at

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Groner stars at Ridgewood

Published in the DAILY RECORD
For Sunday, June 3, 2018

While she may not be a New Jersey association champion, thanks to her now being a member of New 
York’s association, Roberta Groner of Randolph was the story at the Ridgewood Run 10K last Monday.  
The 10K was the state championship for men and women masters runners, but Groner, who turned 40 
recently wasn’t eligible to compete in the championship division. 
 In a race that encourages professional runners, like the winner of the race, Temesgen Habtemariam
 of New York who finished in 30:15, the first New Jersey runner is expected to be down a few spots
in the order of finish.
And so it was.  The first New Jersey runner finished in seventh place overall.  What wasn’t expected –
 the first New Jersey runner was Groner, who finished in an eye popping 33:31.  Her time placed her
as the overall course record holder, beating out the previous record of 33:36 by five seconds, 
set by assumed professional runner Naomi Wangui in 2001.
Groner was followed by three out-of-state women with Karen Auteri of Belvidere the next New Jersey
 woman to finish.  Her time was 36:44, which is reported to be an Auteri pr.
Stuart Haynes of Chatham was the top masters man, and top man on the winning M40 team Garmin 
Runners, with Gary Rosenberg of Morristown next in 35:20.   The Garden State Track Club’s A team 
took second with the club’s B team next in third place.
In the M50 division, the Garmin’s team placed first to the Garden State’s team with the Shore AC third.  Rockaway’s Reno Stirrat was the fastest man on the Shore team with his 38:36. Stirrat did not let a little thing like a back issue, as mentioned in this column last week, slow him down and he was only off of his age division course record time of 38:28 by eight seconds.  Ten teams competed in the M50 division that requires five men on a team minimum.
Thanks to being able to use one runner on two different age division teams, Stirrat headed up the 
Shore’s winning M60 team well ahead of the North Jersey Masters in second and Fleet Feet Essex 
in third, out of 13 teams.
On the women’s side the Clifton Running Club had no trouble placing first in the W40 division with 
the Garmin Runners in second and the Garden State team in third, out of 19 teams that competed.  
Clifton took a back seat in the W50 division with the North Jersey Masters taking first with Clifton
 second with the Garmin Runners third out of 14 teams.
Nora Cary of Morristown was the top finisher in the W60 division with her 43:23 and she brought her
 North Jersey Masters team to first place in their W60 division.  The Raritan Valley team was second
 and the North Jersey B team was third, out of six teams that competed.
The North Jersey team was the sole competitor in the W70 division.
Misa Tamura shaved four seconds off her own W50 record of 38:43 set in 2016 down to 38:38.
Cary knocked the legs off Toshiko d’Elia’s long standing W60 record of 44:47 by 
more than a minute with her 43:23.
If I were in 15 kilometer shape I would be at the USATF NJ trail race championship on Saturday, 
June 9th.  Many runners have run on the Columbia Trail former railroad bed out of Long Valley 
to High Bridge.  Contrast the trail with its only slight inclines with the Ken Lockwood Gorge 
and you have quite an adventure.
Quoting the race website, “run above the river and falls, and then wind your way through the
 gorge as you take in all Hunterdon County has to offer, just before a climb that will provide
 you the chance to conquer (or be conquered) by the “BEAST”. “
A bit of hyperbole perhaps, but the Ken Lockwood Gorge is considered one of the treasures
 of the state and a run into and back out of the gorge promises to be memorable.  
There are plenty of less challenging races this coming weekend, including the Chatham Fishawack
 4 miler and the Florham Park Jaycees 5K.

Race Results can often be found at or at
A calendar of USATF sanctioned events can be found at or at for running and tri and biathlon events.
Contact Madeline Bost at


Sunday, May 27, 2018

Ridgewood Runs tomorrow

On Sunday, May 27, 2018


Tomorrow the masters runners come out to play.  Well, not that you have to be masters age, which is of course, age 40 and more, but the Ridgewood Run 10K is a masters championship for both men and women.

The Ridgewood Run has been around for a long time, and the website makes for interesting reading when you find the Course Records page.  Way back in 1993, local hero Joe LeMay set the course record of 29:11 when he was in the 25 to 29 age division.  That would put LeMay now in the M50 division if he were to race tomorrow.

He would have to beat Hillsborough’s Brian Crowley’s time of 33:57 set just last year to take that title.  Reno Stirrat of Rockaway set the M60 age division course record of 38:28 in 2016.  Stirrat posted on Facebook Friday that he is dealing with a back issue.  He is registered to run but the back may prevent that from happening. 

Some of the age division records were set some time ago, like those of Austin Newman of Westfield, who ran a 46:32 in the M75 division, or Dudley Healy of Chatham whose record of 51:16 in the M80 has stood for quite some time.  But 89 year old Nathaniel Finestone’s M85 record time of 1:10:26 was set in 2014 and Finestone of Mountainside is still competing and will be running tomorrow. 

Misa Tamura of Ridgewood set the W50 record in 2016 of 38:43, and Lisa Swain of Fair Lawn set the W55 of 43:38 in 2014.  Imme Dyson of Princeton set the W80 record of 1:05:20 in 2017.  Both Dyson and Tamura are listed as registered for the race tomorrow. 

The Ridgewood Run is actually an all morning event with a 5K following the 10K, which is then followed by elite road miles.  In 2017 Ben Malone of River Vale finished in 4:23 to win the open men division, while Mark Williams of Columbia won the masters mile in 4:42.  Rolanda Bell of Laurelton NY won the open women’s mile in 5:05.  Elena Rozhko of Morristown won the masters women’s mile in 5:33.


The New Balance Grand Prix and the Mini Grand Prix have been posted and no surprise that Charlie Slaughter of Parsippany has the lead in the overall grand prix.  He has all but one of the maximum nine races.  Aya Leitz of Jersey City has the women’s lead.

What I find interesting is the contest in the Category 3 Mini Series.  Ricardo Romero of Hillsborough with four of the five necessary races has the lead, but in second place with just three races is Aaron Lesko of Morristown with 1,898 points and in third is Michael Dixon of Highland Park with 1,893 points.  Leskow beat Dixon in the two distance races that they both competed in, and both have the maximum 500 points in a non-championship race. 

Ah, interesting that Stacey Slaughter, daughter of Charlie is leading Aya Leitz in the Category 3 Mini Series women’s division.

In the Category 1 Mini Series, Rob Albano of Mahwah has a so far perfect score of 3,700 with seven of the maximum eight races.  Yes, he has won every race in that category that he entered.

Elena Rozhko has a similar record.  She has won four out of five races and will easily move from second to first with just three more Category 1 races.

What is interesting about these mini division series is that the top three people in the Overall New Balance Grand Prix are removed at season’s end from the mini series results for awards.    If Rozhko, for example places in the top three in the New Balance series she will disappear from the minis.


Race Results can often be found at or at
A calendar of USATF sanctioned events can be found at or at for running and tri and biathlon events.
Contact Madeline Bost at

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Our House was a wash but not a wash out

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, May 20, 2018


Rain or no rain, the Our House Four mile championship was going to take place.  Races seldom cancel due to rain and the race in Summit was no exception. 

With a small field of just a bit over 300 runners the race was on in the pouring cold rain.  The Boston Marathon this year may have set the standard for miserable races but at least the Summit race lasted for only those four miles.

Rob Albano of Mahwah crossed the finish line in 19:55 with Matt Gillette of Orefield PA just behind him in 19:58. Stephen Mennitt of Brooklyn NY was third in 20:18 with Aaron Leskow of Morristown in fourth place.

Albano recently joined the Freedom Running Club and along with Mennitt, Steven Lange of Stanhope, team captain Atilla Sabahoglu of Franklin Park, and Daniel Bier of Short Hills, placed first in the open team division.

The next three spots were taken by the Garden State Track Club teams, followed by the Garmin Runners in fifth place.  The Garmin team was made up solely by masters men with Stuart Haynes, 42, of Chatham their first man to finish.  He was 10th overall with his time of 22:04.

Garden State’s M40 A team won that division in a squeaker ahead of the Garmin squad by only ten seconds of the combined total times of the first five me to score.   Their M50 team captured first again, over the Garmin Runners.  The Shore Athletic Club placed first in the M60 division with Reno Stirrat, 64, of Rockaway first in his division and tops in the team.  He was also the top age graded man with an 85.87%.

On the women’s side, Laura Cummings of HoHoKus placed first in 23:53, with 45 year old Elena Rozhko of Morristown in second place with a time of 24:12.  Cummings lead in her Garden State team to first in the open women’s division and Rozhko was first on the third place Garmin Runners team.  The Garmin team was made up of all masters age women and they took the W40 Division. 

In the W50 division the North Jersey Masters team, lead in by Nora Cary, 63, of Morristown, with Debbie Brathwaite of Hawthorne and Diane Washburne of Mendham placed third.  Raritan Valley Road Runners were first.  Cary finished in 28:42 to top the age grading at 87.69% PLP.

The Morris County Striders had the sole teams in the W70 and W80 divisions.

In all, 78 teams competed in the rain with the last finishers the Striders W80 women; Diane Stone, Shirley Pettijohn, both of Chatham and Melva Murray of Hillsborough.  The three women poke fun at the idea of aging and are probably more active racers than the younger runners in the field. Saturday’s race was the third race in seven days for the trio.

Next up for the runners will be the Ridgewood Run 10K that this year will be the masters men and women’s championship.  The race, which takes place on Memorial Day will also offer a 5K and a road mile. 


Race Results can often be found at or at
A calendar of USATF sanctioned events can be found at or at for running and tri and biathlon events.
Contact Madeline Bost at

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Our House four next week

On Sunday, May 13, 2018


The state championships seem to be tumbling off the calendar nonstop this month.

Last weeks Newport 10,000 followed the previous weeks 15K in Clinton, and with just a one-week gap, the newest championship in the line-up is arriving in Summit on the 19th of this month.  Although it is new, it is also an established race, redrawn from a five mile to a four mile.  The setting for the Our House is at the Village Green in Summit with parking for all in a nearby municipal parking garage.  When it was a five mile race, the course was challenging.  Did they eliminate the hills with this re-draw? 

Last year, when the four miler was not a championship, Stephen Mennitt of Brooklyn and Atilla Sabahoglu of Manville raced each other to the finish line in 22:29 and 22:30 – at 5:37 pace.  Neither time even came close to 80% PLP, which might tell us what the course was like.  Or, were the two just taking it easy with no other challengers chasing them. 

This year will be quite different.   The Garden State Track Club with its overflowing stable of open runners will likely capture the top spots down through the clubs C, D, E teams on the men’s side.

Nothing is certain though.  At last week’s 10,000 in Jersey City, Garden State took first and second place, but third went to the growing Freedom Running Club, with Mennitt and Sabahoglu the first two men on the team.

Mennitt’s 32:00 put him at the head of the New Jersey elite list, followed by Morristown’s Aaron Leskow in 32:13.  The race was won by Abinet Adraro of Albuquerque in 29:52 and on the women’s side, Kaitlin Goodman of Providence RI in 34:12.  The second woman finisher was Amanda Marino of Asbury Park, who scored on the winning women’s team, the Shore Athletic Club.  The Shore team won by the slim margin of four seconds over second place Garden State; 3:23:02 to 3:23:06.

Seventeen complete men’s teams competed and thirteen women’s teams, with an impressive 1,632 finishers.


Runners can find a race in just about every town this month and plenty close to home in Morris County.  There is almost always a link at the end of this column where runners can find race calendars. 

Two local races of note are of note for two different reasons.  The first race to mention is the Mind Maters 5K in Madison.  It is the first race to take place this season on a weekday evening.  It is this Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. and is run through and around the Giralda Farms corporate campus.

The other race is nearly four times as large when including the number of runners doing the relay in the Super Hero Half Marathon.  It features an early 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning start at Ginty Field in Morris Township, with a finish at Loantaka Park off South Street.


While New Jersey was hosting the 10,000 meters with invited elites from around the country, some of our own runners traveled outside the state to compete.  Randolph’s Roberta Groner placed 7th woman overall in the Pittsburg Half Marathon last weekend.  Her time of 1:12:35 put her first masters woman and age graded at 92.9%.

Johnathan Frieder, formerly of Randolph, and now of Rye Brook NY placed first in the M45 division, and third of all men over 40 at the Blue Cross Broad Street ten mile run, in 53:58.


Race Results can often be found at or at
A calendar of USATF sanctioned events can be found at or at for running and tri and biathlon events.
Contact Madeline Bost at

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Newport 10,000 does it right

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, April 29, 2018


Back a few years ago.  Well, make that more than a few – make that many years ago, New Jersey was an unprotected state.  Hun?   Yes, our races were unprotected.  New Jersey races that had some prize money ended up in a listing – a “little black book” of sorts.  Agents for very fast and sort-of-fast runners scoured the “little black book” looking for money races for their athletes to enter.

These runners did not live in New Jersey.  They did live in one of the surrounding states; most notably Pennsylvania and New York, where they trained.  We are talking about athletes who originated from a foreign country and who were here on an athlete visa.

Golly, gee whiz.  It was sure exciting to have those really, really fast runners come to little ‘ole New Jersey to race, and to take away -  wait a minute!   They came to little ‘ole New Jersey for one reason.  Race and get out of the state as fast as they came, clutching the prize money that had been offered.  It was so easy.  A quick day trip to New Jersey from Pennsylvania or New York.

New Jersey race organizers soon realized that they were doing nothing for their races by offering that prize money.  The local fast runners, seeing the prize money, and knowing that the “carpet baggers” would show up on race day, stayed away.  Those fast guys and girls were not so well known that the local papers cared and the local runners were boycotting the “carpet bagger” races.

This is what is called a Light Bulb Moment.  With the help of the USATF New Jersey Long Distance Running committee the races put a caveat on their purse money.  The money would go only to USATF NJ members, or at the very least, to New Jersey residents.  Now you could have a competitive race with New Jersey’s elites racing for the purse money and the out-of-staters looking elsewhere for money races.  This change brought back the local runners.

Why did this come up?  Next Saturday New Jersey has the exemption to the rule in the form of the Newport 10,000.  The race is perfectly designed to attract those out-of-state elites while treating the New Jersey elite runners fairly.  The prize money is substantial enough to attract runners from throughout the country to the “Elite Division” and the “American Elite Division”, also known as professional racers.   Meanwhile, another division is for the open men and women of New Jersey who will vie for purse money specifically for their championship division.

How does this work out?  In 2017 the fastest man hit the tape in 29:46. Craig Lutz, age 24, came all the way from Flagstaff AZ to do that.

On the women’s side, Rosa Moriello of Brighton MA finished in 34:17 to capture first place prize money.  Roberta Groner, then 39, of Randolph was the first local woman, although she more rightly fits into the elite category.  She finished in 35:27 for third, not far behind a woman from Bend OR.  Ashley Higginson who now lives in Morristown finished tenth overall in 36:13.

The first three local elite men finished in a cluster in 14th, 16th, and 18th places; Aaron Leskow of Morristown in 31:28, Rob Nihan of Glen Rock in 32:46. and Kyle Price of North Brunswick in 32:53.

That this prize purse plan works well for the New Jersey runners is evident when looking at the team competition.  Twenty-one complete New Jersey men’s teams and fifteen women’s teams competed in 2017.

This scene will be repeated next Saturday in Jersey City with the 2018 Newport 10,000.  The one race in New Jersey where the elites of the nation are welcome along with the New Jersey runners. 


Race Results can often be found at or at
A calendar of USATF sanctioned events can be found at or at for running and tri and biathlon events.
Contact Madeline Bost at