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.   

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