Monday, January 9, 2012


Written by Madeline Bost
Originally Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, January 8, 2012
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2012

There is one more award for the 2011 season available for USATF members, if they act soon. The Phidippides Award is given to runners who– well, who like to run. More precisely, who like to run in races.

In 2010 over 100 New Jersey runners received the Phidippides award, which is a handsome plaque. With only a little over three weeks before the deadline the numbers are down for New Jersey runners.

Phidippides of course is the Greek soldier, described as a professional masters runner who ran over 140 miles from the plains of Marathon outside of Athens to Sparta to enlist the help of the Spartan army to fight off the Persian army. The Spartans agreed to help but not until after an important festival. Poor Phidippides had to run back to Athens to give his generals the good news/bad news. If that wasn’t bad enough, after a day long battle, the generals sent him off to run into Athens, a distance of 26 miles, to let the army there know that the Persians were coming by sea. Phidippides was one heck of a runner but he ended up a dead runner from exhaustion.

 Painting of Pheidippides
Luc-Olivier Merson, 1869

While the award is for running in a goodly number of races in the year so far no one is known to have hit the ultimate wall like Phidippides did.

The award is given to those who have run on accurately measured or USATF certified courses, and they can be trail, mountain, cross country as well as road races.

One point is given for 5K up to 5 Miles. Two points for 10K to 15K, three points for ten miles to half marathon, and four points for 25K to marathon. A sliding scale is used based on age so that runners age 40 to 59 need 20 points to earn a Gold award while a runner age 60 to 79 needs only 16 points and someone age 80 and older needs eight. Similar scales are used for Silver and Bronze awards.

It was a slim year for this writer. I did the Indian Trails 15K in April for two points. In May I ran the Run for a Dream 8K in Virginia for one point. In June I did the 10K national masters championship in Ann Arbor for two points. Also in June I ran a 5K cross country race in New Brunswick for another point. Of course there was the President’s Cup Night Race in Millburn for another point. Wait, the Fitzgerald’s Lager Run for one more point. Let’s see, in the spring season I reached eight points. I needed to double that with the fall races to hit Gold.

In October I ran in the Syracuse Festival of Races for one point. Hmm, no long runs so I wonder if I can do it. Wait, I did run the East Brunswick 10K in October for two points. Then in November I caught a cold and had to skip the Giralda Farms 10K. On Thanksgiving morning I ran the 5K in Morris Township and that was the end of my season. Four points in the fall and eight in the spring for a not so grand total of 12 points. That will get me the Silver Award in my age division so at least I have that as a consolation.

So far fifty New Jersey runners have attained the coveted Gold Award for 2011. Five have reached Silver and two have a Bronze. That is about half of what was awarded for the 2010 season.

I spotted a few local runners on the 2011 list; like Carole Chen and Fernando Branco of Wharton, Charles Castiglioni of Lake Hopatcong, Susan and Will DeRoberts of Boonton,Scott Isgett of Rockaway, Lori and Robert McGill, and Tony Massa of Budd Lake, Rene Rovtar of Basking Ridge and Mark Washburne of Mendham.

There is still plenty of time. The deadline is January 30, 2012. Applications are on the national USATF website.

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