Monday, April 2, 2012


Written by Madeline Bost
Originally Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, April 1, 2012
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2012

The MK5K, short for Morris Knolls, has established itself as a fixture on the spring racing calendar in Morris County.  Held in April in Denville, using the fast former Harvest Festival 5K course, it attracted several hundred racers and in the process raised funds to support the Morris Knolls baseball program.

Last year’s race was a somber one.  A former player, and former volunteer, Ryan Steidl was in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury after being struck by a car and thrown into a telephone pole on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th.  It was the first year that Steidl was going to enter the race that he had previously volunteered for, and was on a training run for it when the accident happened.

Former players, classmates and fellow workers turned out for the race to “pinch run for Ryan” as their t-shirts proclaimed.  Through several months friends and family and sometimes strangers prayed for Steidl to recover from his devastating injury.  It was not to be.  He lost his battle on September 15th, 2011.

This year the race is dedicated to Steidl and has been renamed the Ryan Steidl Memorial MK5K.  Funds raised will be donated to a scholarship in his name, but the biggest message that the race organizers hope to publicize is runner safety, according to race director Rich Luttenberger.

Luttenberger pointed out that it isn’t just runners knowing how to run safely on the roads, but drivers have a responsibility as well.

“Drivers need to be aware, too,” said Luttenberger.  “We tend to live in a society where everyone is on the go all the time and we need to remember to slow down and be aware of everybody.”

Runners must always run against traffic, facing oncoming drivers.  It is the prime safety tool for runners who may need to deal with inattentive drivers or those blinded by the sun.

Luttenberger pointed out that another safety hazard is at intersections when a driver is turning right.  The drivers often check for cars coming from the left but fail to look to their right for pedestrians – walkers or runners.
“Since the accident, as a driver, I find myself looking both right, left, right, regardless of the situation,” said Luttenberger.

“As drivers and runners we need to be aware and share the road,” he said.  “Something as simple as looking the other way, or easing off instead of stepping on it.  Yielding.  The little things like that would make a huge difference.”

Because Steidl began his high school years at Randolph High School whose colors include Navy Blue, and graduated from Morris Knolls, whose colors are Green and Gold, the logo on the race shirt will be a combination of Navy and Green.  It will also bear Steidl’s initials and his baseball number, 22.

“Little things to remember Ryan,” said Luttenberger.  “The staff shirts will have safety tips on the back.”

It is not known if Christopher Pannone of Lambertville will be back this year.  Pannone set a hard to beat course record of 14:47 in 2011, using the 5K for a final tune-up for his Boston Marathon later in the month. 

The race is this Saturday, April 7th.   Registration will open at the Denville Community Church on Diamond Spring Road, 7:15 a.m.   Parking is at the church or at the finish area on Pocono Road at the St. Clare’s Hospital complex.  Runners who park at that site should allow for extra time to jog over to the start area.  The race starts at 9:00 a.m.

One last note.   Luttenberger pointed out that we are preaching to the choir here.  Runners who read this column are more than likely aware of the safe way to run on the roads.  It is the casual runners, and beginning runners, as well as walkers who will not see this column who need to be educated.  Think about doing your part by sharing these safety tips with others. 

You just might save a life.

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