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.
A calendar of USATF sanctioned events can be found at www.usatfnj.org or at www.raceforum.com for running and tri and biathlon events.
Contact Madeline Bost at email@example.com.