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.

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