Friday, May 30, 2014

Rozhko takes third at Pfizer race

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, May 25, 2014
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2014
Elena Rozhko of Morristown was less than a minute from winning the Pfizer Run for Pride 5K on Wednesday at the Giralda corporate complex in Madison.  Rozhko, age 41, finished on the hilly course in 18:16 to finish third overall in the race.  Nicholas Reid of Morristown finished first in 17:21.

Foster Wheeler won the male corporate team division while Novartis won the female division.  The coed division was won by PREI Pacers with the Greystone team placing second.


USATF women's teams will be heading for Marlboro next Sunday, June 1, for the championship 5K.  The Garden State Track Club will be the prohibitive favorite to win the race with all the other clubs running for second.  In contention will be the Garmin racing team, the North Jersey Masters and the Raritan Valley Road Racers. 


The Ridgewood Run taking place tomorrow will draw a good number of local runners even though it is not hosting any championships this year.  The first race on the roster is the 10K, followed by the 5K, which are then followed by mile races.  To honor Toshiko D'elia, long time member of the North Jersey Masters who put on the races, a prize money purse will be awarded to the first masters woman across the line in the 5K and 10K.  D'elia passed on this past year after a storied career in racing, both on the roads and on the track.  Elena Rozhko of Morristown is the likely winner of the prize, a fitting outcome for an immigrant from Ukraine to win a prize named for an outstanding immigrant from Japan.


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

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Fast Five begins June 1st

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, May 18, 2014
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2014

Runners, start your engines!    Well at least get out your training log and plan your strategy for competing in the Fast Five Series next month.   The what?

OK.   Maybe you have not heard about this new series within a series, so it is time you know about it.  June is traditionally the end of the spring racing season.  Runners should have built up their fitness and be ready to race well.

So what better way to test that fitness than to create a series with short, fast races.  The longest race of the series is the last one on the schedule.  A little sadistic but also similar to the Triple Crown of horse racing that begins with the Kentucky Derby at a mile and a quarter, then the Preakness that took place yesterday, at a mile and 3/16  and culminating with the longest race of the Triple Crown series, the Belmont at a mile and half.

Now one thing very different between the Triple Crown and the Fast Five Series is that all five of these races take place within 26 days while the horses get two weeks rest between the first and second race and then three weeks rest before the last race.  Human racers can do with a lot less rest than those horses.

To reach a final score in the Fast Five, runners need to complete at least four of the five races, because the four best scores will count toward the series total.  Each race has a top point value of seven hundred and now you can figure out what races are in the series; all of the next five championships.

That would be the Stomp the Monster 5K in Marlboro on June 1st.   Six days later is the College Avenue Mile in New Brunswick on June 7th.  Now the racers get a little breather, like those horses, and don’t race again until the President’s Cup Night Race in Millburn on Monday night, June 16th.

Eight days later is the Lager Run on Sunday night, June 22nd in Glen Ridge.  Then with only four days rest comes the Sunset Classic five mile in Bloomfield on Thursday, June 26th.   That’s it.

Of course there are some considerations of what race to sit out if you want to save yourself a little like those horses, and not run in all five.  That could be determined by what division the race is hosting.  Stomp the Monster is the 5K championship for open women.  The President’s Cup Night Race is the 5K for open men, and the Fitzgerald’s 1928 Lager Run is the 5K for masters men.  The Sunset Classic is the five mile championship for open and masters women and the College Avenue Mile is for all divisions.   

The five open men and the five open women with the best combined scores in four races will be declared the series winners.   Now what about the masters?  Well the series is using age grading to determine the masters winners.  The highest combined PLP [performance level percentage] of each masters best four races will determine the top five masters men and women runners.    


Giralda Farms corporate complex is the site of the Pfizer Project Community Pride 5K this Wednesday, May 21st.  As might be expected there is heavy emphasis on corporate teams and each year about a half dozen men and women’s teams compete with 20 or more runners.. The greatest number of teams is the coed division that had nearly 20 teams in 2013. 

Starting Line Sports in their new location at 40 Main Street in Madison is handling the pre-registration and packet pick-up, beginning at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, and Tuesday and Wednesday until 3:00 p.m.  Packets can also be picked up at race registration starting at 5:00 p.m. at Giralda Farms.

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

Sunday, May 11, 2014

New Jersey's Julie Cully wins the Newport 10,000

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, May 11, 2014
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2014


The Newport 10,000 that took place last Saturday in Jersey City is always interesting.  One never knows what elite runners from around the country will be showing up to run for the prize money that is offered.  On the women’s side, our own New Jerseyan, Julie Cully, who grew up in Lebanon, and now lives in Virginia, won the race in 33:47.  Cully won the 5,000 meter US Olympic Trials in 2012 in 15:13. 

On the men’s side the race was won by Haile Mengesha who currently resides in New York.  His winning time was 29:59.49 – a somewhat pedestrian time given the quality of the field. However, although the course is dead flat it is plagued with numerous sharp turns that are hard to navigate.  The faster the runner, the more difficult the turns. 

Cheyenne Ogletree of Port Reading finished in 35:52, fifth overall and the first New Jersey USATF woman.  Finishing in seventh overall and first masters woman was Elena Rozhko of Morristown whose time was 37:43. 

Jeanne Pare, 53, of Chester scored the highest on the Age Grade table with her 39:48 that scored at 89.62% PLP.  Jane Parks, 61, of Morristown was second in the age grading at 86.59% for her time of 45:54.

Christopher Johnson of New Providence finished in fifth place and was the first New Jersey man in 31:28.  Locally, Youssef Rochdi of Rockaway finished eighth in 31:47 and rounding out the top ten was Justin Scheid of Sparta who finished in 32:58.

Sixteen men’s teams competed with many of the slower teams made up entirely of masters age men.  The Garden State Track Club took the first three spots with their C, B, and A teams, in that order.  On the women’s side there were nine complete teams with Garden State taking first.  The Morristown based Garmin women’s racing team was second and their men’s team was fifth in their division.  The Do Run Runners women’s team was sixth in their division and their men’s team was seventh.


At the Payton Jordan Invitational meet last Sunday night, Lauren Penney of Roxbury, who was featured here last week, made good on her promise to have a big PR when she finished the 5,000 meters in 15:30.3.   Her previous best time at the distance had been 15:56.   Amy Van Alstine of Midland Park finished in 15:22.9 and Ashley Higginson of Colts Neck finished in 15:34.8.

It’s a new course this year for the Super Hero Half marathon that takes place next Sunday in Morris Township.  The site location has changed slightly with the start on Southgate Parkway just off South Street.  The runners will do five miles in a lollipop out-and-back that will bring them back past the start and then off in another direction for an eight mile loop course, with the finish in Loantaka Park off South Street.

From its inception the race has drawn over a thousand runners, with the highest number, 1,237, in 2012.  Prizes will be awarded for overall and age division winners but the fun for the racers is wearing their super hero costumes for the best costume division. 


The USATF New Jersey long distance running committee quarterly meeting is taking place this Thursday evening, May 15th at 7:00 p.m. at the offices of Parette Somjen Architects in Rockaway.  The main topic on the agenda is the election of the sports committee chairs and vice chairs.   The address and directions are on the USATF website, under the link for associations meetings.

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

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Penney runs on the elite circuit

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, May 4 2014
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2014

She watched her daddy go out the door for his runs and wanted to run with him.  She was only a baby when he first ran trying to lose a little weight and get into shape.  “He fell in love with it,” said Lauren Penney of her dad Steve Penney of Succasunna. 

So it was natural for her to want to run with him and at nine Lauren ran in her first race.  Her early career was short lived though.  She signed up for the Roxbury Recreation Department track and field program, but that year the track was being rebuilt and the kids had no track of their own to train on. 

“It was not fun at all.  Running’s not for me,” she concluded.

It wasn’t until she was in middle school that she gave it another try.  This time she had found her calling.  Penney was a freshman when the Roxbury girls cross country team was on fire. 

Ali Caruana, Jenn Ennis, Kristen Stevens, Casey Campbell, Sarah Tencza and Ashley Cromartie another freshman.  They won the Meet of Champions in 2004 and earned the right to fly to Portland Oregon for the Nike Cross Country national meet where they placed ninth out of twenty teams.

“I got a really awesome experience out of it,” said Penney.  “I credit my own running from them bringing me along with them.”

Penney also credits the girls coach Sherry Sikora for developing the talented girls on the team.  Sikora was a standout at Roxbury when she was in high school there, and she came back straight out of college to coach at her alma mater.

After high school Penney continued running at Syracuse University where she made All American in the 2011 NCAA Cross Country Championships and All American again in 2013 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 5,000 meters where she placed eighth.

After graduating in 2012 Penney continued to run and to race and she is now with the New Jersey* New York Track Club that was organized just a handful of years back.  The club has attracted a growing number of young talented runners who train under the tutelage of Frank “Gags” Gagliano at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

Just like the rest of New Jersey runners it was a hard winter to get in the training but being aligned with Rutgers the team was able to run indoors at the Bubble which helped Penney to get in her 70 to 75 miles per week.  The team trains together for workouts and on Saturdays for their long runs they often run on the D&R Towpath nearby and sometimes drive out to run on the Columbia Trail that stretches from Long Valley to High Bridge.

Penney says she is looking for a big PR (personal record) at her race Sunday night (May 4) at the Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford University.  She set her current PR of 15:56.8 last fall and like most runners she was reluctant to name the time she is hoping to run.

Two weeks from now Penney will be running in a 1,500 meter race at the USATF Oxy
High Performance Meet in Los Angeles.   PR’s will likely fall there as well.

“The 4:13 that I ran last spring (in the 1,500) was after a 4:37 PR in the mile from indoors  and this year I ran a 4:31 in the mile indoors so I’m hoping to bring that down a little bit too.”

Back at home Steve Penney and his wife Donna are watching the development of their talented daughter.  Lauren Penney said that they almost never missed an event while she was competing for Syracuse. 

“They love it,” said Penney.  “Their attitude is that if you’re going to do it, it’s got to be while you’re young, when you can.”

Penney’s event is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Pacific time.  Results will be posted on

Two other New Jersey women; Ashley Higginson who was a standout at Colts Neck, and Amy Van Alstine who ran for Midland Park are also entered with Penney in the elite section. 

You can bet that some families in those two towns and in Roxbury will be staying up a little late tonight.


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