Sunday, June 16, 2013

President's Cup Night Race back as Championship

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, June 16, 2013
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2013


Being a championship one year does not guarantee a race will be a championship the next year.  Such was the case last year when the championship for open men in the USATF New Jersey line-up was awarded to a race that wasn’t the President’s Cup Night Race 5K.   If that wording reads a little strange it is completely deliberate.

“The President’s Cup isn’t a championship?” was the plaintive cry from many runners.  Not that the race that was chosen was a poor race, it was just that the President’s Cup had become so cemented as the open men’s race that people had a hard time comprehending that in 2012 it was not going to be a championship.

Well, all those mourners can now be celebrants as the President’s Cup Night Race is back wearing its banner of “championship”.

Does it make a difference?  Well, maybe not very much.  In 2012 when it was not a championship it had 227 fewer runners than in 2011 when it was a championship.  That’s a lot of runners but when you have 1,117 finishers as it was in 2012 you may not miss the other 227 that came in 2011.

Did it make a difference in the quality of the men’s field?  Well, maybe just a little.  None of the racers last year made it into my top finishing times list that records all times since 1999 that were under fifteen minutes.  The winner in 2012 was Jeff Perrella of Westfield who finished in 15:02.  In 2011, when he also won the race, his time was 14:50. 

That year he was running for a team, the Garden State Track Club and that could have been a motivating factor, since the times of the top five runners are added together and seconds count.  Of course a runner can’t know what is going on behind him so Perrella didn’t know that his team was going to win the team competition by close to two minutes.

So speculating is pretty useless.  What is known is that the race is a clear favorite for runners in the northern one third of the state and even some shore area runners like to come up for it as well.  It is a very fast race, fueled by the collective adrenaline of those thousand plus runners.  Gene Mitchell of Franklin Lakes won the race in 2003 with a top-of-the-list time of 14:34.

Of the fourteen men who have times under fifteen minutes at the President’s Cup, only Justin Scheid of Sparta appears to be racing in 2013.  He won the Portugal Day 5K last week in 15:49, far off his 14:42 at the President’s Cup in 2009. 

In 2011 all of the clubs sent teams, some B and C teams.  Twenty-six finished the race.  Interesting that this year the top twelve teams will garner points in the USATF team grand prix thanks to a change made at the February Long Distance Running committee meeting.

Registration at Charlie Brown’s restaurant at Main and Essex Street begins at 6:30 p.m.  The race is definetly a night race as it goes off at 8:00 p.m.  Runners who have not registered can save themselves ten dollars by registering on-line today.  On race day the fee jumps to $35.00, with no promise of a race t-shirt.

Interesting side note about last year’s race.  The top two women, Elena Rozhko of Morristown and Catherine Smith of Wayne with 17:23 and 17:40 respectively have now turned forty.  Rozhko has been burning up the roads this year but Smith has taken a little break according to the Essex Running Club newsletter.  Diagnosed with a bone bruise Smith was told no running for four weeks.  Once she is back and racing fit she and Rozhko should make for some pretty interesting masters racing.

It’s time to get in your registration to the Fitzgerald’s Lager Run 5K that is next Sunday in Glen Ridge.  It is the USATF New Jersey masters men 5K championship.

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

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