Sunday, November 8, 2015

Great Swamp Devil will draw grand prix racers

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, November 8, 2015



Three Morris area men and one living in Somerset are certain to be found at the Great Swamp Devil 15K race next Sunday, November 15th, in Basking Ridge.  A check of the USATF New Balance Grand Prix shows those men are missing a Category Three non championship race to finish their grand prix.

John Hogan of Washington Township is leading the grand prix series with 5,551 points.  The first ten men have all nine of their races that are required to maximize their scores.

Languishing in eleventh place in the series as of October 22nd is last year’s winner Atilla Sabahoglu of Somerset with 5,121 points and missing a Category Three non championship.  A win at the Great Swamp or even just a bit off a win and he will skip past Hogan to secure his place at the top – a win would give him 5,621 points.

Right behind Sabahoglu in twelfth place is Morristown’s Gary Rosenberg with 5,106 points and also needing that 15K.  Could Rosenberg pull off an upset?  Sabahoglu is 37 years old, while Rosenberg is 45.  Despite the eight year age difference, head to head Rosenberg out scored Sabahoglu at the Ridgewood 10K and at the Newport 10K.  At the one Category Three race they both ran, the Clinton 15K, Sabahoglu finished four minutes ahead of Rosenberg.  The Clinton race was in April.  A lot can change in five months.

Ironically the two other Morris area men needing the 15K are also in Rosenberg’s M45 division.  John Sabatino of Morris Plains has 4,998 points to Rockaway’s Scott Isgett’s 4,961.  On paper Sabatino would appear to maintain his lead over Isgett at the Great Swamp Devil.  And here’s the kicker – if they don’t do the race they will allow 60 year old Charlie Slaughter of Parsippany to beat them both.  Slaughter will win the M60 division and is in 14th place just ahead of Sabatino and Isgett.

No such drama exists on the women’s side.  Roberta Groner of Randolph is just five points shy of a perfect grand prix score of 5,700.  In second place is Mary Christian of Flanders who is unreachable at 5,634 points.

One man’s misfortune is often another man’s gain.  So it can be in road racing.  When a nor’easter blew in the first weekend of October and briefly flooded roads and streets down the shore the Little Silver Classic 5K was cancelled on orders of the police for safety concerns.  The Little Silver race had been chosen as the open women’s championship. 

The USATF long distance running committee contacted the Harrington Park 5K that had been the runner-up in the selection process and asked the organizers if they would take the championship.   They were happy to oblige.  The race will take place on Saturday, November 14th.

On the race’s website is a visual that all races should employ.  A video shot either from a bicycle or a car takes you over the entire course.  The neighborhood roads appear to be nearly pancake flat and that should make it fast.  The handicap to running it fast is the many curves and turns in the roads.  This is one race where knowing to run the tangents will help, assuming the runners have full access to the roads curb to curb. 

In 2014 the race had 568 finishers; mostly local people and many walkers. The championship should add another 100 runners so this will be a good grand prix points race for those who are low in the Category One division.

The USATF Junior Olympics cross country meet at Central Park in Greystone had what is believed to be a record turnout with 630 entrants.  The meet was ably managed by the Morris area Lakeland League that holds meets there all fall. 

Albert Essilfie, co-chair of the youth committee praised the Lakeland volunteers who assisted, said Terry Mullane, managing director of New Jersey USATF.  Essilfie was impressed with what he saw as a true cross country course and a perfect spectator course.

“For me, the event went off without any hiccups,” said Mullane.  “The volunteers and the USATF officials were great in helping to run a successful event.  The clubs and participants praised the location and the course!”


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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