Monday, May 28, 2012


Written by Madeline Bost
Originally Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, May 27, 2012
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2012


A lot can happen in two weeks, when it is two weeks in prime racing season.  I was called away unexpectedly two weeks ago for a family member’s illness in Washington state, and am now catching up to the news on the racing scene.

The Newport 10,000 in Jersey City has always been an interesting race.  No, not because of the location in the Newport area of the waterfront city, but because of the mixture of local elite runners and elite runners from out of state and out of the country.

The non New Jersey runners are lured in with prize money substantial enough to warrant the drive or the flight from places like Kentucky, Florida, Maine, Minnesota, Maryland, New Mexico, and of course, New York.  First place was taken by Julius Koskei in 29:15 and seven men went under 30 minutes.  Eighth place was taken by New Jersean Jeff Perella of Westfield in 31:15.

The first woman to finish was Loretta Kilmer in 33:53.  Coincidentally the first New Jersey woman to finish also took eighth place.  Elena Rozhko of Morristown would win a 10K ordinarily with a time of 37:03, but when you are up against pro runners, well, you get eighth.

The race, which took place on May 12th, was host to USATF New Jersey open men and women, so in a sense they were not running against the pros, but against fellow state runners.

The now dominant Garden State Track club took first in the both the men and women’s team championship.  The Sneaker Factory was second men’s team with the Fleet Feet Essex club third.  On the women’s side Raritan Valley’s team was second and the new in 2012 Garmin runners were third. 

On May 20th, the Run for Rachel in Livingston was the USATF New Jersey 5K open women’s championship.  Rozhko won the race with her time of 17:41, the only local woman to place in the top ten.  The Garden State Track club made it a double header of sorts with another win, Raritan Valley again in second and the Garmin women again in third.

The win by Garden State broke the tie in the open women division of the team grand prix that has now been posted on the USATF NJ website.  In the club grand prix, the Raritan Valley Road Runners have once again jumped to the lead.

In addition to the championship races this month, Morris County saw the SuperHero Half Marathon draw 1,237 official finishers and maybe even set a world record for the most super heroes in costume in one place.  Ryan Grote of Morristown won the race in 1:11:19, well over three minutes ahead of the rest of the field, which certainly makes him a super hero, whether he dressed as one or not.

Masters runner Misa Tamura of Ridgewood was the first woman to finish, but with only a seven second margin over Kristin Miller, 17, of Long Valley.  Their times were 1:27:40 and 1:27:47 respectively.

This past Wednesday in Madison the Pfizer Run For Pride 5K was won by Ben Clarke of Morristown in 16:28.  Visiting from Atlanta, Allison Dublinski finished in 18:26 to win the women’s race.  Threatening skies may have kept some runners away but the rain held off or had moved away for the 525 who finished the race.

Foster Wheeler won the men’s team division, with Novartis second and host Pfizer third.   Novartis women won their division, with Pfizer second and ADP third.  The Coed division was won by the Greystone Park staff team, Prudential Real Estate Investors were second, and the Picatinny Pacers took third.


Morris County is blessed with a network of off-road walking, cycling and yes, running trails.  This Saturday is National Trails Day and a newly opened segment of the Patriots Path will have a ribbon cutting ceremony and then a ride, walk, or run that will begin at the Horseshoe Lake complex in Roxbury at 9:00 a.m.  The segment being opened is through the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority land between Righter Road in Roxbury and Pleasant Hill Road in Ironia.  It reconnects what was once a railroad track that goes through the Black River Wildlife Management area to Pleasant Hill Road in Chester.  

Monday, May 7, 2012


Written by Madeline Bost
Originally Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, May 6, 2012
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2012

Youssef Rochdi, 28, an immigrant from Morocco who now calls Morris Plains New Jersey home is a man with a mission.  Despite long hours as a delivery man, and not enough hours to train, his mission is to make it to the top in road racing.  No, not in New Jersey, but in the elite world of national and international competition.

Rochdi was the winner of this past Saturday’s USATF New Jersey 15K championship at the Clinton Country Run.  That puts him solidly in the category of elite New Jersey runner, out stepping Michael Dixon of Fanwood, 51:03 to 51:16.

Rochdi looked comfortable winning the race and he said that it was not difficult to maintain the lead.  On the track he does one mile repeats in 4:42, so the 5:28 pace over 9.3 miles had to be in his words, a convenient pace.

In Morocco Rochdi was a track racer, specializing in the mile and the 5,000 meters.  On the track he has run 3:57 and 13:42, respectively.   His heart is still on the track but he now runs road races in order to help support himself with prize money.

Purses are not big enough to support any but the most elite and Rochdi does not fall into that category yet.  When he came to the US a few years ago, he was first injured and then was unable to do the training that he needed to be competitive.  In 2009 and 2010 Rochdi said that he was working 60 to 70 hours a week and it clearly was an impediment to his running and racing ability.

“I did not have to work to support myself in Morocco, so it was easier,” said Rochdi.  “When I came to America I had to support myself.”

Up  at 5:00 a.m., he gets in an hour or so of easy running.  His evening runs are speed workouts.  Twenty miles in a day when he does his doubles adds up to a lot of miles each week.

Rochdi had an unpleasant experience recently when he came to a local high school to do his track workout.  Although he arrived after six in the evening, as he had been told was the rule for non-students, he was barred from using the track.  Although the experience was upsetting he said that he will run on a different track that is more hospitable to non-students.

Youssef‘s goal for 2012 is to run 14:37 on the roads and he thinks that is doable at the President’s Cup Night Race in Millburn in June.  The eight o’clock in the evening is a good fit for him.

“I like to run in the evening and not in the morning,” he said.  “My body is used to it and it is awake in the evening.”

Rochdi has a full schedule in addition to his running and work.  He is taking classes at County College of Morris in physical therapy although his schooling in Morocco was in law.  He has attained his certificate as a USATF Level 1 coach and he coaches at the West Essex YMCA. 

Rochdi would like to be training in Albuquerque New Mexico where he could benefit from the high altitude that helps other elite athletes.  He would love to be the first New Jersey runner to win the ING New York City Marathon, a very lofty goal, but one that he sees as possible if he could devote all of his energies to his training.  Three months in New Mexico could make it possible, he thinks.

“I’d like to go over 160 miles per week,” he said.  “The high mileage is a sure improvement for long distance running, especially at altitude.”

Rochdi is friends with Mo Trafeh who won the USATF half marathon in 2011, out sprinting Ryan Hall for the win.  Clearly Trafeh has inspired Rochdi that with hard work and high mileage he too can be a top runner.

When Rochdi gets discouraged and depressed he thinks about Trafeh and the other Moroccan runners who have come to the United States and have done well; people like Khalid Kannouchi, and Fouzi Aloui who have both raced in New Jersey.

Rochdi is at the Our House Five Miler today in Summit, which is the USATF New Jersey open men and women’s championship.  Next week he will be at the Newport 10,000 in Jersey City.
At the Newport 10,000 last year in Jersey City, Rochdi did not run the race competitively and in fact did not actually cross the finish line until nearly an hour and a half had passed.  This year will be a different story and he hopes to get close to thirty minutes.