Monday, April 16, 2012


Written by Madeline Bost
Originally Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, April 15, 2012
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2012

His name popped up first this year at the Super Sunday FourMile race in Morristown in February.  Thomas Poland, 23, of Morristown won the race in 20:59, averaging 5:14 minutes per mile.  Second place was nearly a full minute slower.

In March, at the Miles for Music 20K in Johnson Park in Piscataway, Poland dueled with Mike Dixon of Fanwood [ results | blog ], and it was Dixon who went ahead to win in 1:05:04 to his 1:05:18 with Mike Rolek of Maplewood in third.

Three weeks later the trio switched places at the IndianTrails 15K in Middletown.  Poland put six seconds between himself and Rolek to win in 48:18 to 48:24.  Dixon took third in 49:13.

After the 20K Poland said that he got in some key workouts that played to his strength and the change to hills at Indian Trails.

“They were two completely different races,” he said.  “The 20K was a pancake and the 15K was an up-and-down all over the place.”

“I knew that that was going to play to my strength,” said Poland.  “I was always a better cross country runner than I was a track runner.  I love hills.  I love breaking up the rhythm.”

Poland attended Delbarton in Morristown where he ran for the cross country and track team.  In his senior year, in the fall of 2006 he placed 15th in the Foot Locker cross country race at Van Courtland Park in 15:48.  After graduating from Columbia University last year he set about hitting the running and racing scene.

Poland is a valued member of the Garden State Track Club but because he has to train around his job schedule he does not run with the club.  Training alone is what he has been used to.

“As a distance runner I have been doing much of my training by myself all my life and I don’t necessarily need a group of people to train with,” he said. 

A morning guy by his account, he is usually out the door by six thirty, six forty, to run in the area around his home in Morristown.  He is not a high mileage runner, keeping in the mid sixty range for weekly mileage.  Stress fractures while in college have taught him to be mindful of his mileage and to not do anything too crazy.

On weekends Poland meets up with a group of runners who train on the unpaved roads off River Road in Bedminster.

“It’s wonderful out there,” he said.  “It’s all soft surface and rolling hills.” 

Poland’s coach is Jon Clemons who was a two-time All-American in cross country and in the steeplechase.  His specialty was the steeplechase and made five USATF national championships.  He was a college coach for six years and coached Poland the four years that he was at Columbia.  Clemons now coaches post-collegiate athletes like Poland.

Clemons and Poland made the decision to enter the Unite Half Marathon at Rutgers next weekend, instead of the USATF New Jersey open men’s 5K championship, Stomp the Monster. 

The 5K might have been an easy win for Poland, and the half marathon could have some tougher competition from outside the state, but Poland would relish such a race.

“If somebody from Westchester or somewhere else comes in that is better than me I could get my doors blown off,” he said.  “At least I would get beat having to run fast.  I would much rather take running  67 minutes low, or 66 minutes getting beat than just to run a 5K and not get even close to my PR.”

“I think the overall take away from the Unite will be better than the 5K,” said Poland.  “To sweeten the deal would be to win the one thousand first place prize money.   I talked to my coach and we both agreed that it would be a really stupid decision not to take the shot.”


Tom Poland has a fairly easy choice to make for April 22nd.  He could chose to run in the Stomp theMonster 5K, the USATF open men’s championship or enter the Unite Half Marathon taking place the same day on the Rutgers campus in New Brunswick.  With a chance to win one thousand dollars, or even $500.00 for second or $250.00 for third, paying the $85.00 entry fee is not too risky.

For most runners, those who have no shot at the big bucks, paying $25.00 to register for the Stomp the Monster, or even $30.00 on race day is a whole lot easier on the budget than $85.00 for the Unite or $90.00 on race day.  This trend toward higher entry fees has many long -time fans and participants worrying about where road racing is heading.  You’ll be hearing and reading about this more in the days ahead.

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