Sunday, September 22, 2013

Long Distance Running Committee meeting this Thursday

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, September 22, 2013
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2013


Each September the USATF New Jersey Long Distance Running committee accepts proposals for changes to the programs affecting the New Jersey runners who compete in USATF.

These programs include the New Balance Grand Prix for individuals, the mini grand prix, the team grand prix, the cross country grand prix and tied to all are the championship races.  The proposed rule changes are analyzed and if they are determined to have merit, they are accepted for presentation at the first meeting of the following year.  This allows for time for a cooling off period of sorts while people consider the ramifications of any change.

The meeting is this Thursday, September 26th in Rockaway.  Details and directions are on the USATF website.


What may be the hottest topic at the meeting is the national masters cross country championship that will be held at Deer Path Park in Hunterdon County on October 20th.  The New Jersey championship will be contested within the masters championship races.  There is also a New Jersey championship for open runners.

Combining the races makes sense from an operational standpoint but it does raise questions as the New Jersey rules differ in some regards from the national rules. 

Singlets or jerseys worn by team members must be essentially identical in the national rules but that is not a New Jersey rule.  Double dipping, or the use of one man or woman on two club teams for different age divisions is allowed in the state meet, but not allowed in the national meet.     The team captains will need to be briefed on how they will declare teams for both of the races as that could seem confusing to the un-initiated.

One age group could also cause some confusion for team captains.  In national championships the Men 60 to 69 teams must have five members to score in cross country championships.  Up until 2013 that group needed only three men to have a full team.  But due to the Baby Boomers aging up there is now an abundance of men in that division.  New Jersey has been slow to make that change so only three men are needed for the association teams.

Perhaps the biggest change for New Jersey runners is that in the masters men’s competition there will be three separate heats.  In all there will be five separate races, beginning with the open championship, the Garden State Classic; next will be for all masters women, then men 40 and 45, then men 50 and 55, then all men age sixty and older.

Having several races is quite customary in cross country races nationally and internationally.  It makes for a full day of racing and allows runners to become spectators for the other four races, something that cannot happen when all are in the same event.

Several Morris area runners made their way to Long Branch last Saturday, September 14th to compete in the Ocean Avenue Mile and some came home with medals.  Susan Bessin of Madison won the masters women race with her time of  5:46.  Bessin, with Connie Augustine of Mendham, who finished in 6:10 and Debbie Hall of Westfield, who finished one second behind Augustine, claimed victory for the Garmin team in the W40 division.

The Morris County Striders team of Charles Castiglioni of Hopatcong, Ed Neighbour and Leo Smuda both of Sparta took third place in the M40 and M50 division.


In the latest issue of the Reader’s Digest an article dealing with high school coaches a point is made that kids can get cut from a team, but that in cross country and track no one is cut.  It is something that parents should keep in mind if they have a kid who doesn’t make the cut in a team sport.  Kids who get cut loose from their sport are vulnerable to less than desirable associations.

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Contact Madeline Bost at

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