Monday, July 23, 2012


Written by Madeline Bost
Originally Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, July 22, 2012
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2012 

There is always an energy, always excitement at the Verizon Wireless Corporate Classic 5K that takes place in Morristown each July.  This past Thursday was no exception.  The plaza at Headquarters Plaza was full of milling crowds of runners, easily identified by their company clothing.  Verizon Wireless always has the largest team and they turned the plaza a brilliant red in their classy racing shirts.

While many of the participants in the field of close to four thousand might have wanted to run a competitive race, many were there to be a part of the huge event and part of the excitement.  It’s hard to get a good start with a field like that.  Even using only your chip time it will be slower than usual.  If you are not on the front line you will likely be dodging people while being bumped by others faster than you.

If you can hit five or five-thirty minute miles you are on the front line and on Thursday there were a dozen or so who could do that.  From the gun Tyler Gibbons of Basking Ridge immediately went to the front.  Chris Johnson of Berkeley Heights and Jonathan Squeri became a dogged duo following in Gibbons wake.

Running seemingly alone Gibbons passed the one mile clock in around five minutes.  Up and down with turns at every block at the far end of the course he held the lead, going through the second mile only a bit slower.  Then the insurmountable lead narrowed and then it was gone.

“Once I got past the two miles, I started feeling my legs a little bit,” said Gibbons.

As he slowed, Johnson pounced, taking over the lead in that crucial third mile, just as he had planned as he waited to go into another gear.

“That was my plan all along, to let him go out,” said Johnson.

Johnson said he had hoped that no one would go out hard, so that he could steal an easy win.  Gibbons made him work for it.  It got them both fast times; Johnson finished in 15:55 and Gibbons crossed the finish mat in 16:05.  Jonathan Squeri of Princeton finished third in 16:11 and said later that he knew he would have a race on his hands.

“Just looking at these guys I know they are great runners,” said Squeri.  “I’ve run against Chris before and I heard that Tyler is good, going to Columbia next year.  So these guys are the real deal.  I was just enjoying myself.  Putting myself behind them and seeing what happens.”

The first woman, Rachael Sorna of Hopewell Junction NY, had no such race.  Surrounded only by men, she finished in 17:59, sixteenth overall.

“I was hoping one [another woman] would come up on me and run with me but I didn’t see anybody, said Sorna.”

There was plenty of competition behind her.  Ten seconds separated the next three at the finish, and there was a lot of action heading there.

In the last mile, Lyndsay McMeen, whose hometown is not listed, was running in second place.  Kavitha Manley of Piscataway was trying to run her down and did so.  She moved into second place.  Then just before the line Manley was caught by Mollie Pozolo of Michigan, presently living in Hohokus.  Pozolo finished in 19:33, Manley in 19:36 and McMeen in 19:43.

“I knew I wasn’t going to catch her [Sorna], but I was just happy to catch second and third place,” said Pozolo.

For Manley the whole night was a heady experience, her first time to race at the Verizon Wireless 5K.

“I never thought I would be part of something huge like this,” she said, summing up what many felt.  “It’s a little intimidating I think, but it was good.   A lot of energy.”

Monday, July 16, 2012


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

All you procrastinators out there, I have bad news for you.  The Verizon Wireless Corporate Classic 5K in Morristown this Thursday has closed registration.  This is the first year that the race has reached its cap so early.

“Last year we shut it down about 40 minutes before the scheduled end of registration on race night,” said race director Dan Brannen of Morris Township.

“We had people waiting in line and they were disappointed,” said Brannen.

So this is probably a good thing that the runners know well ahead of race day that there will be no race night entries accepted.  Last year 3,726 runners and walkers officially finished the race, almost exactly five hundred more than in 2010. 

The 3.1 mile race has taken place in Morristown since 2006 when it replaced the three and a half mile Corporate Challenge.  The course is downright challenging and running a little shorter met no resistance from the runners.

This year there is a minor change to the course that most people will not notice.  The start will be further north on Speedwell, away from the plaza, and the finish will also be a small distance away from the previous finish line.

“It will give us an additional two hundred feet to play with,” said Brannen.  “It will alleviate some of the crowding that has existed in the start and finish area.”

“It will give us more room to get people off the plaza and out into the street for the start and it will also give us more room for the walk off into the refreshment area after the finish.” 

Brannen explained that the area had become extremely crowded in the last few years as the runners stacked up after finishing.   The refreshment area is being reconfigured as well to make it more open and spread out, eliminating the tunnel effect of previous years.

Shortening the course at the start and finish means there must be a corresponding lengthening and that will be achieved by rerouting just one small section of the course at about the two mile mark.

None of the changes should have an appreciable effect on how fast a runner can complete the challenging course.  For the record, or more precisely, according to my unofficial record keeping, the fastest time on the course was run by Chris Pannone of Lambertville in 2009.  He averaged 4:50 minutes per mile and hit the tape in 15:01.  In that race Justin Scheid of Sparta gave Pannone a good challenge but faded toward the end to finish in 15:29 for the second fastest time on record.  In 2010 Scheid came back and ran a 15:30 to win.

In 2011 Elena Rozhko of Morristown won the women’s race in 17:49 nearly a full minute faster than any other woman has run. 

The irony of those fast times is that the Verizon Wireless Corporate Classic does not emphasis speed.  It is all about inclusion and the encouragement to exercise through running.  After the top three men and women are recognized there are no other individual awards.  Corporate teams do compete and that is to encourage the local companies to support good health in their employees.

Not that the teams aren’t competitive.  One hundred and nine teams competed in the men’s division with host company Verizon Wireless taking first place with the combined first three runners time of 54:41.  Alcatel Lucent was second in 55:05.  Hatch Mott MacDonald squeaked to third in 56:48 with Foster Wheeler just two seconds back in 56:50.

Ninety-six women’s teams finished the race in 2011 with Verizon Wireless again the winner.  Novartis was second and AT&T third.

Times for all of the runners are based on their actual running time from when they first cross the starting line and when they finish.  Doing the timing this way ensures that runners get a more accurate time for their race, although the start for most of the nearly four thousand runners will be so congested at first that even though they have crossed the start line they will still be only walking or jogging.

Packet pick-up on race day will begin at noon at the Headquarters Plaza just off the Green.  The race start is at 7:30 p.m.   

Monday, July 2, 2012


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

Now that summer is here, it’s time for some fun.  The Morris County Striders summer series begins on Tuesday night, the eve of Fourth of July.  The course is an almost dead flat cross country run at Johanson Field in Boonton Township.  In 2010 the course was redesigned to an almost perfect double loop.  Ben Vanwyk set the course record in 2010 of 15:43, and Diana D’Achille set the women’s record of 18:53.  Age division best times are recorded so all runners have a chance at setting an age division record.

The club offers scoring in a series that counts the best three races out of four that will be held on alternating Tuesday evenings.   One exception is the last race on August 7th is one week after the July 31st race.

If you’ve been running for a few years you remember when the Firecracker Four Miles in Cranford was the only race on the Fourth of July.  Not so anymore.  Just take a look at the calendar’s that are listed at the bottom of this column for races.  The Firecracker for sure, but also one in Maplewood, and others that are farther away.

Summer time is also when runners get in the water and on their bikes so a lot of triathlons are on the schedule.  One that is right here in Morris County is the Randolph Tri on Sunday, July 8th that takes place from the Randolph Township swimming lake off of Route 10 on the border with Roxbury.  When I checked the website on Friday registrations were still being accepted.  As triathlons go, this one is a sprint featuring a one half mile swim, a bike leg of 16.4 miles, and 5K run.

Another big event in July is the Verizon Wireless Corporate Classic on Thursday the 19th in Morristown.  At one time this event was restricted to only those running for a corporate team, but it has been opened to all runners in the past few years.  It’s a huge draw with plenty of once a year runners.   Last year it drew 3,700 finishers.

Another fun night race is the Downtown Westfield 5K on Wednesday, July 25th.  It draws a huge crowd who come as much for the after race pizza as for the race.  If you go to that one be sure to plan to arrive early in order to find a parking spot.

OK.  Now for the real racing fun;  that’s if you think running over and under hellish obstacles, including fire pits is fun.  The first Warrior Dash 5K is taking place right here in our locale, in Lewis Morris Park on Saturday, July 14.  This is another of the new genre of adventure runs that have become so popular.  Being a spectator might actually be more fun, and less harmful to your body.  Check it out at


The weather gods played a mean trick on the runners this past Sunday.  Both Saturday and Sunday were beautiful, with clear skies and fresh, dry air.  Then along about 5:00 Sunday afternoon, in Glen Ridge, those pesky gods ushered in a very un-nice front of warm sticky humid air.

When the gun went off for the Fitzgerald’s Lager Run 5K at 6:15 p.m., runners were well warmed up and not necessarily from a warm up jog.   Still some of the runners managed to get through the heat and humidity and register a fast time.  Youssef Rochdi of Morris Plains won the race in 15:17, with Morristown’s Ben Clarke second in 15:51.

David Craig of Westfield finished in 16:20 in fourth place overall, the first masters man and the lead runner in the winning M40 team, Fleet Feet Essex.  Elliott Frieder of Montville was fifth and brother Jonathan of Hartsdale, NY finished 10th.

The Sneaker Factory took second in the M40, and the North Jersey Masters were third.  In the M50 division the North Jersey Masters pulled off an upset in beating the Shore AC team.  The Shore team stayed ahead of the third place team,  Fleet Feet Essex by only seven seconds.

The Shore AC took first in the M60 division with the Raritan Valley Road Runners in second.  The Do Run Runners edged out a third by only four seconds over the Clifton Running Club.

Elena Rozhko of Morristown won the women’s side in 17:24.  Over a thousand runners finished the race on the track at Hurrell Field on Bloomfield Avenue.