Monday, October 31, 2011


Written by Madeline Bost
Originally published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, October 30, 2011
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2011

Deer Path Park in Readington saw a record number of cross country runners last Sunday [edit: October 23, 2011] for the USATF 5 kilometer championship for all divisions.  The recently formed team, the Garden State Track Club showed their strength and numbers with a win in the Open men division for their A team and second place for their B team.  Raritan Valley Road Runners took third but the start up club also took fourth and fifth.  The Sneaker Factory open men were sixth with the Morris County Striders taking eighth out of eleven teams. [results here]

Raritan Valley took top honors in the M40 division with Sneaker Factory second.  The North Jersey Masters were tops in the M50 division with local clubs all out of the top three.  The Rose City Runners were fifth and the Do Run Runners were sixth and the Striders seventh.  The Striders placed third in the M60 division.

The Open women’s division was won by the Running Company solely on the strength of their W40 squad.  The Sneaker Factory women took third, the Rose City team was sixth and the Striders were seventh.  Rose City had the best local team in the W40 division finishing in fourth place with the Striders placing sixth.

Sneaker Factory has been dominating the W50 division and they did it again at the cross country meet.  Rose City was second and the Striders took fourth.  It was all Morris County Striders in the W60 and W70 division taking in first in both divisions with no other club able to field teams.

This morning, weather and course conditions permitting, the teams will all be back for the 8 kilometer contest on the same grounds.  A lot more is up for grabs with the top open men and women’s teams earning that five hundred dollar travel stipend to Seattle in December for the national club championship cross country race.


It can’t get any better than what the Clifton Road Runners and the Raritan Valley Road Runners teams experienced this past weekend.  Both teams, the Clifton club’s M70 team and the Raritan Valley club’s M60 team came home with gold from the USATF national cross country 5 kilometer championship in Fairpoint NY that was held on Saturday. [results here]

The Clifton team was unchallenged in their division with Hilary Peterlin of Oak Ridge leading his squad in with a time of 26:37.  Hard on his heels was James Leitz of Bayonne who finished just six seconds back in 26:43.  Joseph Saley of Teaneck was the next man to finish, in 28:32 with Al Swan of Clifton fourth man on the team in 31:17.

The Raritan Valley team was far from unchallenged with seven other teams to contend with in the M60 division.  Roger Price of Randolph led in the team in 20:27 placing him third in the M60 division.  Terry Delph who lives in Coopersburg PA was the second man on the team and his 21:39 gave him third place in the M65 division.  Carl Weaver of Morris Plains was third scoring member with his time of 22:35.  Doug Brown of East Brunswick was fourth on the team in 24:52.


Race directors shy away from holding races on the first weekend in November fearing a loss of runners thanks to the ING New York City Marathon.  But not all runners are marathoners, and not all marathoners run in New York each year.

Some race organizers recognize that and in the case of the Friend2Friend half marathon trail run next Sunday, the race is billed as “The perfect antidote to the N.Y.C. Marathon Lottery Blues.”    The race offers cash awards and trophies to the top three overall as well as medals in five year age divisions.  The location is at Kittatinny Valley State Park in Andover.

If a half marathon is not what a runner is looking for, then the Transitions Autumn Fest 5K in Hackettstown is another alternative on Sunday.  It has the added perk of being one of the last Category three 500 point New Balance grand prix races on the calendar.

Head east and south and catch the Not Quite Fall Classic four miler on Saturday in Cranford.  The race was postponed in August when Hurricane Irene blasted through.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Written by Madeline Bost
Originally Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey

On Sunday, October 23, 2011
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2011

[The Great Swamp Devil 15K and 5K was postponed due to the unexpected October snow storm! ~editor Thinnmann on 10/30/11]

In 2009 the Great Swamp Devil 15K and 5K in Basking Ridge took a bye.   No, not because they did not want to put on the races, but because of construction on a bridge on the course there was no way the races could be held.

When the races came back in 2010, they came back a month earlier than was customary.   The Swamp Devil races had fallen into a pattern of coming a week after the Giralda Farms races in November, which are positioned to come the week after the ING New York City Marathon. 

Last year they were held on October 24th.  This year they are being held next Sunday, October 30th.   According to race director Tom Miller of Chatham the race organizers are considering making the last Sunday in October the date each year. 

Miller believes that a 15K race the week before the New York marathon is a good final tune-up.  Although he is currently dealing with a knee problem and has not been able to race of late, he said that his best marathon times have come off races very close to the target marathon.

The Amazing Feet Running Club is now the official organizers of the Swamp Devil races.  It is a natural progression for the club after several years of supplying members as volunteers.

When the races were held in mid November the start time of 1:00 in the afternoon made sense.  It could be expected that the daytime temperatures would have reached their peak by one o’clock.  Now, with the race in late October it makes sense to move the times up earlier and so the 5K will go off at 10:00 a.m. and the 15K at 11:00 a.m.  Miller also pointed out that we will still be on Daylight Savings time as the switch to Standard time doesn’t occur until the following weekend, November 6th.

Having the 5K start an hour before the 15K will insure that  most of the 5K runners will have finished before the first 15K runners begin to hit the final stretch.  In the past there had been overlap when the 5K race started shortly after the 15K runners took off.

While the new date and new start time are notable, the biggest change is to the course.  The old course was an out and back with one side trip, also an out and back.  These types of course are fun as they allow the runners to see their competition coming back from a turn-around and to see those who are stalking them.  It gives the entire field a chance to see the leaders in a race.

The new course has a third out-and- back and it will make for a great spectator course for the runners.  The first turn around is just after the first mile, meaning that the field will still be relatively bunched.  The second turn around is a dog leg that goes off the main course, White Bridges Road, just after three miles.  The turnaround is more than a mile off White Bridges, meaning that the most of the field will be somewhere on that section of the course when the leaders are coming back to White Bridges.  From there it is a straight line up White Bridges to the final turn around and then straight back to the start and finish line at Lord Stirling School.

In previous years the 15K was a magnet for runners who needed a Category Three race in the New Balance Grand Prix.  This year has seen an increase of Category Three races, particularly the half marathons that have sprung up.  While the 15K race may not be as strong a draw this year, there is no doubt that for those looking for a relatively easy Category Three race, picking a 15K over a half marathon is a no brainer.

Some runners who will be missing the Great Swamp Devil races will be those going to the Safe Dating 5K in Convent Station, and others, especially USATF team runners, will be at Deer Path Park in Readington for the 8K cross country.
[The 8K XC was postponed due to the unexpected October snow storm! ~editor Thinnmann on 10/30/11]

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Written by Madeline Bost
Originally Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, October 9, 2011
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2011
The two championship cross country races are next on the USATF New Jersey championship schedule.  The first, the 5K will be held Sunday, October 23rd at Deer Path Park in Hunterdon County.  The 8 kilometer championship is on the following Sunday, October 30th, also at Deer Path. [edit: 5K Results here]

Deer Path Park is well liked by most cross country fans as it features a true cross country course.  There are some hills, but nothing like the Bowl at Holmdel Park, and the surface, while not as groomed as that at Holmdel is level with no roots or rocks to trip up an unwary runner.  If it has rained there may be some wet spots with a little mud but easy to get through.

For the 5 kilometer race the course is a double loop, which makes it a good spectator course, something that cannot be said of many cross country courses.  The 8 kilometer also features multiple loops but with a more intricate layout than the 5K.

 Map of the Deer Path 2 lap 5K XC course 

Team competition is the emphasis for cross country racing and many a road runner has had his or her arm twisted by a team captain who needs to fill out a racing team.  In cross country the open women’s teams must have five runners, rather than the four that is currently needed for road races.  Open men and masters 40 and 50 teams also require five members to score.  All masters women and masters 60 and 70 teams require only three.

Of the local teams the Sneaker Factory has the most teams in top positions in the team grand prix.  That club is leading the open men division and is tied for first with Raritan Valley in the M40 division.  Their W50 team is leading their division.
Because road racers need a little enticing to coax them off the roads and onto the dirt and grass there are incentives in the team grand prix.  All teams receive a two point bonus, even those teams that finish below the usual scoring place.  For instance a team that finishes ninth will still garner two points for completing the race.
There is another enticement for individuals in the New Balance Grand Prix.  The floor is raised from 200 that is in place for road championships to 300 for the two cross country championships.  One hundred is the floor for non championship races that have a top score of 500 points.

The national USATF cross country committee now offers a very valuable incentive to the top open teams in the 8 kilometer race.  Each winning team, male and female will be awarded a $500.00 travel stipend to the national club cross country championship in December in Seattle WA.  Last year the Raritan Valley Road Runners men’s team was able to go to the meet that was held in Charlotte NC.


Three clubs sent masters teams to the Syracuse Festival of Races 5K last Sunday.  This is the fourth year that the race has been the masters championship and the fields keep getting stronger each year.

In the M60 division Roger Price, 62, of Randolph placed sixth in 18:41.  Larry Price, 63, of Summit finished in 10th place with 19:33.  Other top scoring men in that division included Harold Nolan 64, of Navesink who finished in 19:45 and Carl Weaver 62, of Morris Plains who finished in 20:33 in 18th place. [results]

In the M65 division J.L. Seymore, 66, of Somerset placed sixth in 20:05.  Przemyslaw Nowicki, 67, of Holmdel finished in 20:32 for seventh and Douglas Brown, 66, of East Brunswick was eighth in 20:53.
The Raritan Valley Road Runners finished in fourth place in the M60 team division with the Shore Athletic Club fifth.  The Shore club won the M70 division, lead in by Ralph Garfield, 76, of Manalapan who placed third in his division.  Jim Leitz of Bayonne placed fourth in the M70 division to lead in his Clifton Road Runners that placed second to the Shore team.

Next up for the Masters nationally is the 5K cross country championship that will be run on October 23rd in Fairport NY, near Rochester.  That is in conflict with the 5K cross country race here in New Jersey so teams will have to dig down to put teams at two different venues on that day.

Both the Clifton M70 team and the Raritan Valley M60 team are in contention in the new national masters team grand prix.  They will have met the three race in the series requirement but still need to get to the cross country race this month and the one in Seattle in December to maximize their points. [edit: National Masters 5K XC Results here]

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Written by Madeline Bost
Originally Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, October 2, 2011
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2011

Training for your fall marathon got easier this year with the addition of the Shades of Death Half Marathon.  If the marathon in question is the ING New York City Marathon on November 6th then the Shades of Death on Sunday October 9th is placed just about perfect. 

What will make the half marathon a good choice for a tune-up race is the nature of the course.  While the name, Shades of Death, might conjure up truly horrific hills, such is not the case.  The road was named way back two hundred or so years ago and is attributed to a variety of legends, as chronicled in Weird New Jersey. Perhaps a murderous gang of lowlifes, perhaps a propensity of death from Malaria from the swamps nearby, but the name came to the region long ago and it had nothing to do with hills. 

In fact the area is quite flat, as would be natural to a swampy area that is part of the terrain of Shades of Death Road.  Of course for those who like to wow their more sedentary friends, being able to tell them that you ran in and finished the Shades of Death Half Marathon is sure to draw praise and awe.

But point of fact is that the half marathon course is two loops of mostly flat, scenic country roads with beautiful farms on either side.  It is expected to be a personal record course for those who want to go for it.  For those training for a full marathon it will be a way to get in a long, easy run on a mostly flat course.

Along with the half marathon is a two person relay.  Each will run about six miles.  The distances are not quite equal due to the nature of the staging area at the Allamuchy Township School on Johnsonburg Road.  The school has only limited parking and that is reserved for the staff for the races.  Runners will gather at the nearby Panther Valley shopping center and then be shuttled to the school.

As is now routine for important races, the Shades of Death has its own Facebook page, and its own website   The website has photos of the views along the course as well as an elevation chart.

A late September race is always at risk of being more summer-like than fall and the Newport Liberty Half Marathon last Sunday in Jersey City had one of those days when the runners were wishing for a little more fall and a lot less summer.  Several runners reported debilitating leg cramps from running in the heat.  Still a full field of 2,222 runners finished the race.

John Thou, 38, of Paterson is credited with the win in 1:08:03.  Thou won both the 10K and 5K Brian’s Run in Wayne earlier in September in 31:24 and 15:28 respectively.   Jennifer Malavolta of Reeders PA is having a great season and Sunday she was the first woman overall as well as taking the top masters title in 1:24:57.  Malavolta is a potential winner of the New Balance Grand Prix but is missing two Category Two and two Category Threes races.  The fall racing season is still early and all of those can be filled in with the right selection of races. 

Local teams added to their points in the team grand prix.  Sneaker Factory was the winner of the Open men’s division as well as the M40 division.  Their women’s teams had a win in the W50, a second in W40 and third in the open division.  The Morris County Striders medaled in two divisions.  They took second in the M60 division and third in the W50.  The Do Run Runners open women took second in their division.   Next up for the USATF New Jersey teams is the 5K cross country race at Deer Path Park on October 23rd.