Sunday, February 24, 2013

Girls on the Run has come to Morris County

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey

On Sunday, February 24, 2013

Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2013

If you’ve been to a number of 5K’s in New Jersey it very likely that you have seen a flock of girls running in what appears to be their very first race.  They look excited, tired, and exalted as they finish the race.   If so, you have been introduced to the Girls on the Run.  If the girls don’t seem that fast then you need to understand the program.

The Girls on the Run website states that the program is a life changing character development program for girls from third grade to eighth (sixth, seventh, and eighth grade girls are in the Girls on the Track program).

The dynamic ten week program combines training for a 5k with education and interactive discussions about critical issues that will affect pre-teen girls as they reach adolescence. Trained volunteer coaches teach life lessons to girls through fun and clever running games and workouts.

The goal is not to teach the girls how to run fast but to help the girls to be physically, mentally and emotionally stronger and better prepared to overcome the challenges and pressures of adolescence and beyond.

 Ruth Dekker of Chatham was a volunteer coach for two years and is now part of the paid staff that is helping with the burgeoning programs in Morris County.  Dekker had hands on experience as a volunteer coach when her daughter Ellie was in the program.  She’s also a runner who found the sport when she was growing up and didn’t fit in well at team sports.

“People would say that I should play basketball like my brothers,” she said.  “I tried every sport but I just didn’t have that kind of coordination.  Then I started running.”

“Running was something that you didn’t have to feel like an athlete or be super coordinated.  I started running with my dad and now I still run and I still compete in races,” said Dekker.  “I found it very therapeutic.  I also found it was a good way to be part of a team.”

“I found that running was good for my well being and my sense of myself,” she said.  “When I heard about Girls on the Run I jumped on it.”

“The emphasis is not so much about running but it is more about self esteem and running is a tool,” she said. “Whether you are an athlete or not, that feeling of establishing a goal and crossing the finish line.  It’s wonderful to see the girls do that.”

The spring programs will begin the end of March and will culminate at a local 5K race.  Each group takes only 45 girls and they fill up fast.  The registration opens on March 1st at 9:00 a.m. and Dekker expects that some of the classes will fill in just minutes. 

To become a volunteer coach, or enroll a daughter you can find more information at


The USATF long distance running clubs will be heading to Rockaway on Thursday for the much anticipated committee meeting.  The attendees will be voting for or against the implementation of eight proposed rules.  More accurately in some cases, the proposals are not rules per se, but methodology in the scoring of the teams and the year end determination of how the teams will be listed.

There will be plenty of debating on almost all of them, but the one most hotly debated is likely to be the rule that would end the practice of using the same runner on two different teams within a club.  The so called “double dipping” has been in existence since the inception of the team grand prix.  It is considered essential to some clubs that do not have a large enough base to fill out complete teams in an age division without “borrowing” a runner from an older age division.

Location, directions and start time for the meeting is at the website, under Long Distance Running.

Race Results can often be found at or at 
A calendar of USATF sanctioned events can be found at or at for running and tri and biathlon events.
Contact Madeline Bost at

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, February 17, 2013
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2013

Morris area runners who work in the area of New Brunswick and Highland Park may want to schedule their return home from work a little late this Wednesday, February 20th.

Frank Gagliano, aka Coach “Gags”, will be speaking to runners at the Reformed Church of Highland Park on South 2nd Avenue in Highland Park.

Google Gagliano and you will come up with a wealth of information about the famous coach that began at Roselle Catholic High School, moved to Rutgers as a coach and then became the  Director of Track and Field at Rutgers University before moving on. 

He’s coached athletes in USATF National finals, World Championship teams, Olympic Teams and Olympic finals.  The funny part of this success story that reads like a who’s who of track and field and racing, with names like Georgetown and the Reebok Enclave, Nike Farm Team, the Oregon Track Club, is that Gagliano just wanted to play football.

That’s right.  Reading from an article by New Jersey sports writer Elliott Denman, Gagliano played quarterback at his high school in New York and later played in the Canadian League.  When he was hired at Roselle Catholic he planned to coach football, but it never happened.  The school never developed a football program.  Gagliano put down his football and began his illustrious coaching career.

Gagliano left the west coast in 2009 and began yet another track club that is undoubtedly going to become the legend that the other clubs under Gagliano’s tutelage became.  The club is the aptly named New Jersey- New York Track Club since it is drawing on athletes from either side of the Hudson. 

Some of those he is coaching are New Jersey former high school stars like Erin Donahue of Haddonfield, Julie Culley of North Hunterdon,  Ashley Higginson of Colts Neck, and Danielle Tauro of Southern Regional.  Culley of course made the 2012 US Olympic team with her win at the national Olympic Trials in the 5,000 meters in a time of 15:13.77.

Gagliano is slated to speak to the Raritan Valley Road Runners after their weekly group run.  It begins at 6:30 p.m. from the church.  The group runs for about an hour so the best estimate is that the talk will begin around 7:45 p.m., maybe 8:00 p.m.  Visitors will be welcome to run with the group prior to the talk.

Gagliano will be sharing his knowledge and experience and will be taking questions from the audience said the press release given to the club. 

Race Results can often be found at or at 
A calendar of USATF sanctioned events can be found at or at for running and tri and biathlon events.
Contact Madeline Bost at

Monday, February 11, 2013

Libasci Featured in National Masters News

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, February 10, 2013
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2013


On page 11 in the December 2012/January 2013 issue of the National Masters News Millington runner Fran Libasci W60, is featured for the Phidippides Award she earned in 2012.  The award is given to those who have logged in the required number of race miles for the year.  Five kilometer races earn you one point, 10 kilometer is two, and so on. Libasci earned enough points for the award in the first half of the year and perhaps in the first quarter.

In fact Libasci could probably have claimed a dozen or more Phidippides awards if that were allowed.  You see she completed thirty three marathons in 2012.  Within that achievement were two other accomplishments.

Libasci had already achieved Fifty Stater status, and in 2012 she decided to get it done again.  In other words she now has completed two marathons in each of the fifty states of the union.

In addition to being a double Fifty Stater, Libasci is also a member of the Marathon Maniacs.  You may recall reading about that group here when I featured Will and Susan DeRoberts of Boonton last February.  There are levels of Maniacs and Libasci decided to go for the top achievement – the Ten Star Maniac.  She would need to complete thirty marathons in thirty different states. 

In the subculture of marathoners you begin to see the same people and Libasci’s view is formed by her observation of what others are doing within the subculture.

“I’m the slacker.  I did only thirty three marathons last year,” she said.  “That may not be the perspective of the general population of runners.  That’s the perspective of the people I’m with.”

Libasci pointed out Larry Macon, who is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, who did one hundred and fifty seven marathons in 2012.  For the marathons to count, they must be official marathons that require registration and a field of official runners.

Libasci had to slack off on the New Jersey races last year and she missed running with her Central Jersey Road Runners club friends.
“That’s the sad part.  I love to do New Jersey races” said Libasci.  “You know how it is to run with your club and your team.  It’s fun to have the camaraderie with people you know.  So I wasn’t able to.  There are tradeoffs in life.”

Slow marathons are another trade off she said.  Her times are in the five to five and half hour range.

“I can’t do thirty marathons in a year and expect to do a four or four and a half hour marathon.  If I come in, in five or six hours I’m happy as a lark.”

“It’s a blast.  I don’t go fast,” she said.  “I can’t go fast.  You have a good time.”

Although some states like New Jersey offer only a small number of marathons, Libasci pointed out that she is not limited in her choices because there are several ultra marathons she could to do.  It is no surprise then, that she has done several of those in her quest to reach her goal.

But ask what was her most memorable marathon and she is quick to answer.  The Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon in Las Cruces New Mexico on the White Sands military site.  It began as a tribute to the World War Two veterans who fought in Bataan in the Philippines.  Two days before the event the runners went to White Sands to meet and speak with survivors of the march. 
“We got to ask questions and some of the answers sent chills up my spine,” said Libasci.  “I think I fell asleep in history class when we talked about that subject, so I didn’t know much about it.  You gain a great appreciation for what they endured.”

Libasci said race day was hot with wind and sand ‘smacking’ marchers in the face.  Most of the course is on paved roads, but mile 19 and 21 goes through ankle deep sand.  At Mile 18 was a sort of rest stop, and two World War II vets were in the tent who gave out high fives as the runners passed by.  At the finish line more vets stood along the finish line and thanked them for running the race.

“It was torturous, but it was one of the most rewarding marathons I have ever done,” said Libasci.

Has Libasci done it all now and ready to rest on her laurels?  Not quite.  She is heading to Antarctica in March to run in the Antarctica Marathon.  At the Three Days at the Fair, in Sussex County in May Libasci will be entered in the 72 hour ultra marathon where her goal is to reach or exceed one hundred miles.  In July she will try for a Quadzilla, that’s Marathon Maniac speak for doing four marathons in four days.  Those will take place in the Portland Oregon area where the weather the first part of July is usually cool.

If those three things sound a little tough, don’t mention that to Libasci.  She has a different perspective.  “I’m going to keep on doing fun stuff.”

Contact Madeline Bost at

Monday, February 4, 2013


Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, February 3, 2013
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2013


 With the second wave of the running boom, or is it the third wave, finding a bunch of pals to run and race with should be easy.  In Morris County there are so many running clubs that, like trying to pick the right toothpaste, there may be so many a runner will want to “taste” more than one.

That’s actually not a bad idea.  It takes awhile to feel the vibes from a club so joining the members in several of their group runs will give a person time to feel that connection or to move on.  New runners often think that they have to be very competitive to join a running club, but that is far from true.  Almost all the running clubs have fast, slow and in between runners.  Club members, in general, range from just out of college to those who could be their grandparents.

The first place to start looking for a club is at as this is the parent organization that governs the sport.  On the website is a listing of all the member clubs.  It’s a long list, but the list includes track and field, and youth clubs.  Adult running clubs usually have the word running, or runner, in their name.   The last column in the listing gives the ages of the members of the club members, and will have “O”, and “M” and that tells you the members are Open, and Masters.

The Morris County Striders have been around since the late 70’s.  Back then the club members met at Randolph High School every Saturday morning.  Now they run on Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays and during warmer weather on Tuesdays to do track workouts.  Each weekly run is at a different location - none from the high school.  The club website gives the locations and times. 

The Sneaker Factory club began as a racing team and has evolved into a social club as well.  The club’s official home is in Millburn where the Sneaker Factory specialty running store is located, but its members are mostly Morris residents.  Group runs take place on Tuesday evenings and at several other locations during the week.

The Rose City Runners Club is another long time club.   Members are centered in the Morristown and Madison areas.  They have held their Saturday morning runs from the Duck Pond in Loantaka Park since the club beginnings.  It may be the longest continuous group run of all the clubs.

The Amazing Feet Running Club also has a Saturday run at Loantaka Park but other runs during the week are in Peapack and Basking Ridge.  The club is home to a number of ultra marathoners.
The Original Geezers running club’s core membership is in Randolph Township and the club’s members are mostly masters division runners.  The group runs from Freedom Park in Randolph every Saturday morning.

The Do Run Running Club holds a group run also at Freedom Park in Randolph on Saturdays, and when there are enough daylight hours the club has a weeknight run from there as well. 

The newest club is the Garmin Runners.  Many of the members had been with the Running Company club that dissolved in 2011.  Their members are envied for the speed they bring to the sport in the younger masters divisions.

Although the clubs are a diverse group one common denominator is the social aspect of each club.  Having friends who share your enthusiasm for running and racing enhances the experience. Frequently after a group run or a race, the members gather at a local restaurant for more socializing, or for a tailgate party in warmer weather right at the location of the run.