Sunday, October 18, 2015

Cross Country back at Deer Path Park

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, October 18, 2015


New Jersey USATF has been mixing it up lately.  In 2014 the 8km cross country meet was held at Natirar Park in Peapack and the 5km was at Deer Path Park in Readington.  Now, they have switched locations.  The 5km was held on August 30th at Natirar.  This coming Sunday, October 23rd, the 8km will be run at Deer Path.

In 2014 when the 8km was run in Natirar the day was a beautiful fall day; no rain in sight.  That’s a good thing because Natirar has no shelters and no indoor plumbing.

In contrast at Deer Path the race hubbub is a sturdy gazebo and just a short distance away is a brick and motor restroom.  While one can pray for another beautiful day like in 2014 for the 8km, the niceties of Deer Path will be appreciated if inclement weather happens.  Cross country runners enjoy a good slog in the mud but all appreciate shelter when the running is done.

In my opinion, hands down, the Deer Path 5km course is a classic cross country course.  It takes the runners over rolling hills with two somewhat challenging climbs.  The runners do the course twice.   The disadvantage for the 8km course is that it is the same course, run three times, with a slight variation to make 8km, and not 10km.  While a double loop is not a serious problem, running the same course three times turns some people off.

Thanks to the strong team competition in play in New Jersey each race seems to break the previous attendance record.  At the 5km in August the increase was exceptional for a cross country race.  Three hundred and thirty runners finished as compared to 286 in 2014.

In 2013 at Deer Path, 231 runners finished the 8km.  In 2014 at Natirar, the field was just six runners shy of 300.  Many will be watching to see what the numbers will be on the 25th.


While we are talking about off road events, the annual Hounds and Harriers three mile race was held for the 19th time in South Mountain Reservation.  Amazing that this little race created and directed by Florham Park resident Barbara Rushman has been around for so long.  Rushman’s idea to have a race for runners and their dogs has since been copied all over the country.
Interesting that the top two finishers were Labradoodles and the top female runner’s dog was a rat terrier.  Certainly none fit the description of a fleet of foot canine.
According to the press release provided by Rushman, Bill Washer of Oak Ridge was first with Macy.  The duo crossed the line first in 17:14.  Brendon Brown of South Orange and Ollie were next in 17:47.  The woman’s division was won by 2013 winners, Tara Gangi of Manalapan, and Jesse the rat terrier, in 19:09.   Runner up was 2014 winner, Lauren Santonastaso of Springfield and her beagle/Jack Russell mix Macy in 19:57.


Mark Minervini of Stanhope was the overall winner of the Shades of Death half marathon in Allamuchy last Sunday.  He finished in 1:21:07.  Second place went to Lubos Matejka of Prague who finished in 1:21:31.

The two top women finishers have something in common besides running.  They are both 52 years old and that is unusual until you see that Mary Christian of Flanders who has been burning up the roads this year was the top woman.  Christian finished in 1:34:03.  Suzanne LaBurt of Greenwood Lake, New York, who crosses the border frequently to race in New Jersey was second in 1:37:22.

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

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