Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, December 21, 2014
New Jersey cross country runners have a ball at the national meet
New Jersey runners who made it to the US national cross country club championships last Saturday came away with mud on their spikes, smiles on their faces and new found appreciation for cross country racing. The meet, with a record number of runners, was held at Lehigh University in Bethlehem Pennsylvania under overcast skies. The course was a mix of solid footing and gooey mud, around corn fields and open space, up hills and down - a classic cross country course.
First on the schedule was the masters women’s 6km at 10:30 a.m. Over two hundred and fifty women age 40 plus toed the line when the starter’s pistol sent them off. Jennifer Found of Hopewell, running in the W40 division was the first New Jersey woman to finish. Her time of 22:50 put her in 12th place overall.
Local teams were well represented with the Garmin W50 team picking up a bronze medal. Mary Christian of Flanders was the first woman on the team to finish (24:41) with Susan Kinsella of Millington next in 24:50 and Janice Morra of Morristown third in 27:07.
Christian said that she had not been part of a cross country team competition since college and she really enjoyed it, along with wearing spikes for the first time in 30 years.
“It was great for New Jersey teams to have the meet so close to home! Overall, except for a few muddy spots, I thought the course conditions were good,” said Christian.
Other local teams were the Do Run Running team that finished 16th in the W50 division, the Morris County Striders W50 that finished 21st and the Rose City Runners that finished 6th in the W60 division. Although the Club is not local the Adidas Garden State Track Club W40 team finished in an impressive fourth place in their division.
Going into the masters men’s race, the never-shy Frieder twins, Elliott of Montville and Jonathan of Hartsdale, NY, predicted they would have the best men's 40+ team in NJ. The twins and their Pearl Izumi teammates backed that up with a strong showing at the meet.
In the largest and deepest masters field ever assembled, the team finished a solid fourth out of forty teams. They finished ahead of perennial powers such as the Asics Aggies Running Club and the Baltimore Washington Athletic Club, which had edged them out of second place at last year's National 5km Cross Country Championship held in Flemington, New Jersey.
Local M40 teams included the Garmin racing team that finished in 23rd place, hampered by the loss of key runner Gary Rosenberg of Morristown who was a late scratch. Bill Bosmann of Rockaway, who at age 64 was meant to be the back-up man, became the fifth scoring member of the team. The Do Run Runners placed 30th and the Morris County Striders placed 39th.
No local clubs had an M50 team. Although Brian Crowley of Hillsborough ran on the Garmin 40 team, he placed third in the M50 division with his 34:20.16; an age graded 89.41%.
Reno Stirrat of Rockaway placed second in the M60 division with a 38:50.54 which helped his Shore Athletic Club team to place fourth in their division. The Shore’s M70 team took first in that division with the help of second place Przemysla Nowicki who finished in 48:58.62, and third place Ed Smith of Mountain Lakes whose time was 49:58.98. The Clifton Road Runners took home the bronze, and Clifton’s Matt Lalumia placed second in the M75 division.
In the open women’s race Haddonfield’s Erin Donohue finished in 20:32.14 for 30th overall. Cheyenne Ogletree of Port Reading, who had just been announced as the winner of the NBGP placed 86th with her 21:35.11. Ogletree’s Adidas Garden State Track Club’s A team finished 13th place.
The club’s open men’s A team finished in 20th place in their race. Another familiar face; Colt’s Neck’s Craig Forys place fourth overall in 29:13.98.
Phil Coffin of Bloomfield who races for the Fleet Feet Essex club offered his observations. He came to cross country as an adult and finds it unusually rewarding he said, and the national race especially so.
“Being part of a national race is special, even when you know you are going to be part of the back pack,” he said. “Seeing the huge field in the men's masters race dash off the starting line -hundreds of runners arrayed across the turf was spectacular.”
Coffin noted the group support among the New Jersey runners. With four races in the meet, racers could be spectators and cheerleaders for three other races. He said he got a little extra burst of adrenaline with each cheer from his teammates and that wasn’t all.
“The other New Jersey teams were rooting for us as well,” he said. “Even runners I did not know from Raritan Valley, Clifton and Shore were yelling for us when they saw our Essex singlets. It may sound silly, but there was some Jersey pride out there.”
“The cheers of my teammates and others helped me finish as hard as I could, and that was a rush. So what if I was 452nd,” said Coffin. “It was a great course, and I raced as hard as I could with a throng of runners loving it as much as I did. You can't ask for much more from a race.”