Sunday, July 27, 2014

Summer races are at risk when the weather turns bad

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, July 27, 2014
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2014


Summer races are at risk when the weather turns bad

On July 15th the Party with Purpose in Hoboken was cancelled due to lightning.  In 2013 just over 1,400 people finished the race so we know there were a lot of disappointed people that night.

On that same day further west, the Morris County Strider summer series race at Johanson Field in Boonton Township delayed the start while the same storm was waited out.  Only a light rain was falling at 7:15 pm when the starter’s horn went off.  All seemed well until around 7:25 when a lightning bolt was seen off in the distance. 

Operating by the book the race would have been stopped.  But what would have been the point?  The racers were scattered all along the course.  Stopping the runners would not have made them any safer.  As it turned out, no other lightning was seen and the racers finished without incident.

Mark Zenobia of On Your Mark Productions has, by his count, produced over eight hundred events, ranging from races to walks, etc. and he says that of those he has had only four cancelled due to weather.

The Downtown Westfield 5K, also known as the pizza run, came close this past Wednesday.  It was hot, and it was miserably humid with a forecast of lightning and thunder storms on the way.

“We were blessed beyond belief,” said Zenobia.  “My first goal is to get the set up done, for any race.  Westfield is huge.  It takes us four hours.   The second step is to get the race started on time.”

The next goal is to have all the runners safely back.  By 8:05 p.m. the last runner crossed the finish line.  No rain had fallen.

Pizza had been distributed so that went well.  The only thing left was the awards.  The sky was darkening and it was clear that they were running out of luck.  A staff member went through the crowds of runners urging parents with baby carriages to begin to move toward their cars.  With such a huge throng it was no easy task to move at all.

Looking at the sky, Zenobia said that he tried to zip through the awards ceremony and get it done before the skies opened up. 

“I said, ‘Guys, I’m going to do this with a name and a town and your place.  Come up and get yours.”

Zenobia made it through the 25 to 29 age division when the lightning and thunder struck.

“We’re done.   We’ll get your awards to you,” Zenobia told them, as everyone fled the scene.

At the Lawyers for Kids race two weeks ago in Morris Township there was no lightning, although there was plenty of rain that swamped the site.  The race went on.  Later someone opined that the race should have been rescheduled.  Zenobia explains why that is impossible.

“Are you nuts?  Reschedule it?” he asks rhetorically.  “Are you going to give me the money to repay all the expense I pre-pay?  Get a new date and make sure it’s convenient for everybody?”

In the case of Lawyers for Kids they had a lot of people who didn’t show because of the rain.  They didn’t have a huge post, but more than you would have thought, according to Zenobia. 

For Downtown Westfield he estimates that there were 250 no-shows.  It is a pre-entry only race so there is no post entry.  In 2013 2,433 finished the race and last week 2,255, so the numbers were down but not by even two hundred.

In 2008 the Westfield race was cancelled due to lightning, with a twist.  Lightning had taken out the power in another part of town.  Intersections had no traffic lights.  Police officers that were at the race had to get to the intersections to direct traffic.

“That was a disaster,” said Zenobia.  “They had to peel off eight of their guys to go somewhere else, for the general population.”

The race would have been cancelled anyway.  Once lighting is in an area, an event is required to wait 30 minutes.  If lightning strikes again the clock begins a new 30 minute countdown.  With sunset occurring a little sooner each day, the wait pushes a race beyond what is reasonable to have everyone finish before dark.  Such are the hazards of summer races.  Mother Nature has the last say.

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, July 20, 2014

Three times a charm for Ward at Verizon 5K

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, July 20, 2014
Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2014

Three times a charm for Ward at Verizon 5K

For the third year in a row Tradelle Ward of Hoboken was intent on racing and winning the Verizon Corporate Classic 5K, held in Morristown on the third Thursday in July.

In 2012 Ward’s car broke down on the way from his Ryker Orthopaedics headquarters in Mahwah.  He never got to the race.

A graduate of Duke University where he ran track and cross country, Ward made it to the 2013 race primed for competition.  But it was not to be.  Hot and hotter is how you could describe that day.  Organizers of the race, fearing problems for the five thousand or so runners and walkers, shortened the course and declared it a non race fun run.

A frustrated Ward may have had some fun, but he also put down the hammer, to prove to himself, if no one else that he was ready to race.  He crossed the finish line in a bit above twelve minutes – first in a race that wasn’t a race.

This past Thursday Ward was once again on the starting line.  This time the day was balmy with a nice breeze and negligible humidity.  A Daily Record photographer snapped a picture of the start but Ward was tucked in on the far left, outside the scope of the lens.  You never saw his photo in the paper the next day.  But be a believer, Ward was there and he won the race on his first, yet third attempt.

He let Richard Luettchau of Somerset, running for Hatch, Mott, MacDonald take the role of a rabbit, content to stay with the rest of the leaders in a bunch of about a dozen runners.  At about a mile and a half Ward pulled into the lead with high schooler Paul Ehmann of Mendham tagging along behind as the lead pack thinned out.  Ward wasn’t worried about Ehmann who kept within apparent striking distance.  But that was not going to happen.

“I felt really strong,” said Ward.  “I felt that if anyone did come up I had some left in the tank.   I could tell that Paul [Ehmanns] was local because people were yelling his name.”

“It seemed like he was closing the gap, so I made sure I was aware of that and was poised to respond if anybody pulled up on me,” he said.  “I wasn’t maxed out.  I had a gear in there.”

Ward didn’t need to shift into that gear as he sailed up Speedwell Avenue to the break the finish line tape in 15:55.7.  Ehmann finished next in 16:07.5.

While the race was shaping up for the men, amongst them in the lead pack was Ashley Higginson, a member of the elite New Jersey/New York Track Team that is centered in New Brunswick.  Higginson had just placed second in the national steeplechase championship last month in Sacramento.  Now in an eight week intern program at the Riker, Danzig law firm in Morristown, Higginson’s goal was a good workout.  As the runners were doing their last minute pick-ups down Speedwell Higginson was greeted more than once by those who had followed her high school career at Colt’s Neck High School.  There was certainly pressure but she said it was a different kind of pressure.

“Everyone has taken such an interest in my running,” said Higginson.  “I didn’t want to fall apart.  It’s a different kind of pressure to impress your co-workers.”

“We went out pretty hard,” she said.  “Then I got into the pace I wanted to do for a workout.  I wanted to run a 5:30 pace and that’s exactly what I did.”

With a downhill start the 5K course might be considered fast, but that downhill must be climbed back to the finish and in between are strongly rolling hills.  Higginson had been warned about the course but was still not expecting how tough it would be.

“When people said it was really hilly I was expecting these huge hills and it wasn’t quite that,” she said.  “But the hills that there were, were surprising because they were right in the middle of the course where it is the toughest.”

Despite the hills Higginson stayed with the lead pack as it spread out, maintaining her position in the race.  She finished in 17:11.0 – 5:32 pace and in ninth overall.

Over four thousand and fifty other runners finished the race.  Individual results have been posted but as of Friday the team results were not available.  Even a casual scan hints that Ward led his Stryker Orthopaedics team to first place but that can’t be confirmed until the official team standings are posted. 

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, July 13, 2014

Verizon Wireless Corporate Classic this Thursday in Morristown

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey

On Sunday, July 13, 2014

Copyright, Madeline Bost, 2014


Verizon Wireless this Thursday in Morristown

This is a test.   What were you doing the evening of July 18, 2013?  

After thinking about it, most who read this column will respond that they were in Morristown for the Verizon Wireless Corporate Classic 5K race.   How did you do in the race?

Trick question.   You didn’t race at all.  Remember.   It was so hot that the race was converted into a fun run with the course shortened by about a mile.

 Let’s face it.  You can turn a race into a fun run, but you can’t turn a racer into a non-racer.
In 2012 Stryker runner Tradelle Ward of Hoboken was delayed in traffic and he didn’t make it to the start.  In 2013 the former miler wasn’t about to run at fun run pace.  He was hammering the shortened course and was the first to cross the finish line.

Now you remember.  Out on Early Street the course marshals had their hands full trying to direct the outgoing slower runners and walkers to move over so that the faster fun runners could return.  Over five thousand runners had registered for the race and it seemed like most of them had shown up.

With weather like we have been having this summer it is unlikely that the Classic will need to go to a fun run again.  The ten day forecast has Thursday the 17th with a high in Morristown of 80 degrees with a chance of showers.  Start time for the race is 7:30 p.m.

Higginson comes to Morristown

Less than two weeks ago, Ashley Higginson of Clinton was running the USATF national championship steeplechase in Sacramento.  She finished in a personal record of 9:27.59 for the Silver medal, second only to Emma Coburn who finished in 9:19.72.

On Thursday evening the same Ashley Higginson was at the Lawyers for Kids 5K in Morris Township.   She hit the finish line in 18:19 for second place overall.  Mike Soroko of Kinnelon won the race in 17:29.

Higginson was a standout at Colt’s Neck high school, attended Princeton University and is currently enrolled in Rutgers studying for her law degree.  So it is not surprising that she came to Morristown on Thursday for the Lawyers for Kids race.  With a 5K road PR of 16:24 and 5,000 meter track PR of 15:34.85 she was clearly participating and not actually racing.  Higginson is a member of the New Jersey/New York Track Club, the same club as former Roxbury runner Lauren Penney.

Higginson is in a summer intern program with Riker Danzig lawyers group in Morristown and will be racing in the Verizon Wireless Corporate Classic on Thursday. 

A fast moving rain storm hit the area at Ginty Field about an hour before the 7:15 pm start.    Initially the runners tolerated the rain but it soon turned into a deluge with runners scampering back to their cars.  A little stream that runs through Ginty Field began to overflow its banks and soon flooded the area where the event tents were standing.    The pop-up became soaked and frantic staff used chairs to try to flip the pooling rainwater off the tops.

By race time the rain had become a light drizzle.  One runner had no complaints.  “In a summer race you are going to be wet from sweat so why not enjoy the wet from the rain.  It keeps you cool.”

Morris County Striders race this Tuesday

Morris County Striders summer series 5K second race of the series is this Tuesday, July 15th at Johanson Field in Boonton Township.  The first race was won by Zac Brower of Livingston in 18:10.  The first female was eleven year old Corinne Renshaw of oak Ridge in 21:17.  Second place female was ten year old Allison Lounsbury of Franklin Lakes whose time was 21:55.


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