Monday, February 27, 2012


Written by Madeline Bost
Originally Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, February 26, 2012
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2012

The USATF New Jersey Long Distance Running committee February meeting always draws the largest crowd of the three meetings held each year. Thursday night’s meeting had over fifty attendees, mostly members of running clubs who wanted to have a say in the proposed rule changes.

Of the three changes, only one made it through. Another was given some consideration and some support. The third was dead on arrival.

That was the proposal to allow only one club team per division, with an unlimited number of members while scoring only the traditional five, or three as the divisions dictate. It seemed that no one liked the idea and once the discussion ended the vote was a resounding no vote.

With that proposal eliminated the way was opened for the other two proposals to be reviewed. Finding widespread support was the proposed rule submitted by John Sabatino of Morris Plains who is team captain for the Sneaker Factory club. Sabatino sought to have all of a club’s members included in team races. That was achieved by doubling the number of team members by the number of those who actually score.

Now, if a division scores five members, the team is allowed to declare ten. If a division scores three the teams may declare six. Open women’s teams will declare eight and score four. Once the maximum number is reached the squad can be broken into an A and a B team. The vote was nearly unanimous in favor.

The third proposal would have established how teams would be scored when a club’s B team managed to finish ahead of its A team. The proposed procedure would make the first team that finished the A team regardless how it was declared prior to the race. Many of the team captains in the room said that they liked strategizing on who they put on their A, B, or even C teams. One captain said it would be “shame on me” if one of his B teams beat his A team. That viewpoint held and the proposal was rejected.

In an association in California a successful grand prix includes a one mile road race. The Garden State Track Club would like to host a mile road championship in June that would be in the New Balance Grand Prix, mimicking the California series. Currently the grand prix restricts the minimum length of the Category One races to 3K up to but not including four miles. A mile race would obviously not meet that criteria.

While many of the runners in the room were in support of a serious mile road race or even several , the group was not receptive to adding the club’s race in 2012. It could be considered for 2013 if the club brings a comprehensive proposal to the committee meeting in September. However a look at the California series reveals that it is profoundly different from the one in New Jersey. The difference calls into question whether a mile race would fit in to the established New Jersey series. The club members were encouraged to hold the mile race and it was suggested that they work to create a road mile series in the summer months that could be a stand alone grand prix series.

Several New Jersey runners traveled to national championships in 2011 and division chair Ed Neighbour reminded the meeting attendees that travel stipends are available for those runners who meet the criteria that is posted on the association website. A club team can qualify for a travel stipend as well.

Neighbour announced that the association will be issuing e-newsletters through the internet service Constant Contact in lieu of paper newsletters sent via USPS snail mail. One part of the travel stipend criteria is a submission of a report by the runner or team on the experience at the national championship that could be published in the e-newsletter.

In a sure sign that the team competition is growing was the hand-out from David Siconolfi of New Providence whose scoring company CompuScore times and scores the grand prix and many of the championship races where teams compete. Siconolfi had to completely redesign the number system for the clubs and teams as the one that had been in use did not allow for the increased number of teams.

The first USATF New Jersey championship is the Miles for Music 20K on Sunday, March 11 in Johnson Park, Piscataway.

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