Sunday, October 26, 2014

Giralda Farms 10K celebrates 35 years

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, October 26,  2014


Giralda Farms 10K celebrates 35 years

Thirty-five years is a long time to keep a race streak alive.  On June 10, 1979 281 runners finished the Rose City Festival 10K in Madison.  It was the start of the first great running boom.  In 1985 the race moved to the Giralda Farms Corporate Complex and was renamed to reflect the move.  The 35th running will  be held on Sunday November 9th.

Barbara Rushman of Florham Park, the Rose City Running club historian, shared her spread sheet of  the history of the race.   Fabio Mejia won the race in 33:25 and Nancy Seeger; a former Roxbury high school standout won the women’s division in 37:34.  Seeger won it again in 1981 and lowered her time to 36:07.  Tom Donahue won it overall that year in 31:24.

The configuration of the 10K has changed since the move and is different than the one in use now.  Although one can refer to the fastest time ever run in the race; it is not a course record.  In 1991 Joe LeMay, then of Ridgewood and now living in Connecticut, won the race in 29:40, the fastest time in the 35 year history of the 10K.  The course was recertified in 2008 and Chris Heibell of  Hillsborough set the fastest time since the recertification  in 31:16 in 2010.

The fastest time for a woman was run by Alicia Kelly, an outstanding shore area runner.  She hit the tape in 1994 in 34:39.  In 2008 Heidi Wolfsberger of Scranton, PA, won the race in 34:57 establishing the fastest time on the present course.

A 5K was added – quite literally - in 2000.  Both races started together; a practice that still goes on today.  The 5K grew from 178 finishers that first year to 494 in 2013.  The largest fields were in 2009 when 633 finished the 5K and 731 finished in the 10K.

The start of the races at noon is a sight like no other.  The 5K runners start on one of the lanes of the access roads within the complex.  The 10K runners start on the other.  The complex is basically filling the side of a hill and the start lines are nearly at the highest point.  When the horn sounds, the mass of runners become a colorful ribbon of runners filling the two lanes until they merge into one giant serpent snaking its way to the bottom of the hill.

This year the 10K is the masters men’s championship and the team competition will be fierce.  New for this year is in addition to the usual post race food offered to the runners is a vendor who will be selling hot food and drink.

Hillary Clark of Mendham, co race director this year along with Barry Lass of Morristown said that they often have had spectators asking if they can buy some hot coffee from the volunteer’s table.  Having a noon race it stands to reason that some of the spectators, and later, maybe the runners, will want some hot food they can purchase.

What has not changed is the souvenir t-shirt.  While many races have gone to technical wicking t-shirts, the Giralda Farms race will stick to its long sleeved cotton shirt with the unchanged geese flying across the chest with no advertisers on the back.  Technical shirts are great for running in, but they do not keep you warm like a cotton T.  The runners would probably revolt if the shirt were changed.

Clark kept her lips sealed when asked what the color would be.  The tradition with the Rose City Runners, the club that organizes the race is that the color of the shirt is secret and only revealed at the club’s run the day before the race.

Last year the shirts were Boston blue and yellow to honor the victims of the marathon bombing.
Clark said that so far they have been able to avoid repeating previous years color combinations.  Another tradition is for the mugs that are given to the age division winners reflect the same color as the shirts.


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Contact Madeline Bost at

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