Sunday, June 26, 2016

Spectating at the President's Cup Night Race

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, June 26 2016


I love being a spectator at the President’s Cup Night Race 5K in Millburn.  Sure I’ve run the race and when I was fit it was a great race for pitting myself against the clock and my rivals.  It’s just that you can see so much of the race if you do just a little bit of shuttling from Millburn Avenue to Essex Avenue.

This Monday I left the racing shoes at home and dedicated myself to watch, not run.  The race starts on Essex just half a block or so from the Charlie Brown’s parking lot where all the pre and post race activity takes place.

I’d like to say, “When the gun sounded for the start”, but in Millburn last Monday night there was no gun.  It happens.   All that the runners heard was “Go!”  No gun.

So, when the “Go!” was shouted I was down Essex at the finish area chatting with a friend as we waited for the field to come past.  Leading the field, and with a substantial lead was a teen, wearing the race shirt and basketball style shorts.  He had such a delighted grin on his face I could only smile and laugh with him as he was quickly swallowed up by the serious runners at the head of the field.

I didn’t stay long on Essex as the lead runners would soon be on Millburn Avenue, a quick jog over from Essex.   Indeed I and the other spectators did not have long to wait.  A lead pack of about eight runners had already separated themselves from the rest of the field, but with a sub pack not far behind them.  Up they charged heading to the turn-back curve to Essex.  I waited a short while, but decided to switch back over to Essex to watch the race from there.

The lead pack, which by now had hit the first mile marker had already dropped a runner or two and was now down to five or six.  At that point the course takes the runners out on Milburn to Millburn High School where they use the school driveway as the turn-back.

I stayed on Essex looking for and spotting people I knew.  Two who I did not know found that spot to take a tumble.  The first, a woman runner was helped up from her fall sporting a bloody leg.  Soon after a man fell in nearly the same spot.  He seemed to have survived the tumble without lose of blood. 

At ten minutes into the race, and yes, of course I had my watch on it, I knew that the lead runners would soon be coming back up Milburn to loop over and fly down Essex to the finish.  I glanced over and saw the men flying past the intersection on Millburn, no longer in a solid pack as before but now strung out.

Soon the motorcycles leading the race were coming down Essex.  With no one near, in long strong strides Eric Chirchir of Newark was heading for the finish which he reached in 14:56.9.  Coming next, with a gap of say maybe fifty meters was Kyle Price of North Brunswick.   Clearly Price had no chance of overtaking Chirchir and appeared to be hanging on in the heat, his trademark blond Mohawk fringe standing straight up on his head, with second place a lock.  Or was it?

While Price wasn’t going to challenge Chirchir, Stephen Mennitt of North Brunswick and Thomas Young  of Fort Lee,  running side by side, were having the race of their life.  With faces contorted, arms pumping and legs churning the two men could have been throwing punches by the intensity in their faces

What a sight as the two raced each other toward the finish line – catching the unsuspecting Price  as they swept past in their personal duel.  It ended with Mennitt hitting the line in 15:04.38 with Young a second back in 15:05.06.  Price, who won the race in 2015 finished fourth in 15:07.62.

The spectating was better than I had imagined.

The Fitzgerald’s 1928 Lager Run 5K is for 5K runners the culmination of a great eight days of racing.  Beginning with the New Milford 5K last Saturday, then the President’s Cup on Monday night and now this open men’s championship with its fast net downhill course.   The early evening start of 6:15 p.m. is the one downer.  It is often still quite warm at the start, felling this runner a time or two.  The beer and pretzels after the race do make up for the distress.


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

Sunday, June 19, 2016

New Milford 5K Masters Championship

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, June 19, 2016


It was a new race for many but the New Milford 5K in Bergen County was a pleasant surprise on Saturday morning.  Although it was a masters championship the race was won by Charlie Murphy of Philadelphia in 15:32, and on the women’s side Roberta Groner, 38, of Randolph finished in 16:35 and in seventh place overall in a field of 660 runners.

Masters racers were in abundance with Jonathan Frieder of Rye Brook NY edging out his twin, Elliot of Montville - 16:31.9 to 16:32.4 for fifth and sixth overall and taking first and second in the M45 division.  Terry Davidson of Randolph was next, after Groner, in 16:40 to win the M40 division.

Outstanding performances were turned in by several Morris area runners, including Beau Atwater of Bernardsville who topped the age grading at 88.83% for his 17:40 at age 58.  Finishing two tics of the clock in front in 17:38, Gary Leaman age 57 scored 88.29%.  Reno Stirrat of Rockaway won his M60 division in 18:28 which put him in third in age grading at 87.84%. 

Nora Cary 61, of Morristown hit the finish line in 20:52 for an 89.86% and second in the age grading. She was topped only by national elite masters Marisa Sutera Strange, 53, of Pleasant Valley NY, who finished the race in 17:39 and topped the age grading in 96.69%.  Sutera Strange was second woman overall with Elena Rozhko, 43, third in 17:53 and leading her W40 Garmin team to first place.


Beer loving runners have to love this coming week with the President’s Cup Night Race 5K tomorrow night in Milburn and the next Sunday evening in Glen Ridge at the Fitzgeralds Lager Run.

The President’s Cup race was not selected this year to host a USATF New Jersey championship but that should not keep the number of runners down.   This popular race will draw a fast group of runners, championship or not.

The race was won in 2015 by Kyle Price of North Brunswick in 14:49.  Alyssa Douma of West Milford was the women’s winner in 18:06.

Fast times are the hallmark of the race that twice climbs the hill on Millburn Avenue and goes down the next street over, Essex,  at the same grade.   Add to the fast course adrenaline firing up the runners in this most competitive New Jersey races in the northern region of the state.  

One thing that sets this evening race apart from other evening races is the very late start time of eight o’clock.  Post race the race has a party atmosphere with many people milling around the Charlie Brown parking lot turned into a street fair.


Now let’s see, the President’s Cup is not the open men’s championship this year.  The
Fitzgerald Lager Run 5K is.   The Lager Run has long been associated with the masters men but that group ran in yesterday’s New Milford 5K that hosted both masters men and women.

The Fitzgeralds 1928 Lager Run is on Sunday, June 26 in Glen Ridge.  The course is described as having a net downhill and is considered fast.  The race starts at 6:15 p.m. when it can still be hot from the afternoon heat.

Since it has never hosted open men, the results for open men is not that strong.  The fastest time since the race’s inception in 2006 was Haddonfield’s Joseph Norton’s 16:00 flat in 2013.  Youssef Rochdi of Rockaway finished in 15:17 in 2012.  Michael Dixon of Fanwood has the third fastest time of 16:04, done in 2011.

Open men team standings in the Investors Bank team grand prix shows Morris area Garmin in first with 32 points after three races, the North Jersey Masters next in 27, and the Shore Athletic Club third with 21points.   Garmin’s B team is in tenth place with no other local teams above ten points.

The Morris County Striders will host their first summer series race of the season, this Tuesday at Johanson Field in Boonton Township.


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

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Merry Heart Roxbury Community Benefit 5K

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, June 12, 2016


Changing a long standing day of the month, like the first Monday to the second Monday can offer a chance for an oops.   We’re talking about the Merry Heart Roxbury Community Benefit 5K, with the title sponsor Merry Heart Health Care Center that is tomorrow night.  If you go online to look at the race registration information, you’ll read the deadline dates for 2015.   Ooops.  Be assured you can register on site beginning at 5:00 p.m. at the Eisenhower Middle School on Eyland Avenue.

Race director Jim Schulz of Succasunna is a man who has his hands full – and maybe balancing a load on his head as well.  

Does this sound familiar to you parents out there, gleaned from an email from Schulz to his race committee?

Boy Scout meetings and events, recreation track practice this week (where Schulz is a volunteer coach).  Recreation track championships were Friday night and Saturday morning at Randolph High School where the Roxbury kids ran in the Lakeland League meet.

And could he deny his three kids who wanted to go to the carnival Saturday night at Horseshoe Lake Park?

Oh, and how about a little tender loving care to wife after her surgery and some family time after putting in hours of overtime at work.  A little edit error can be forgiven and probably didn’t really confuse anyone.

The race committee was trying to find a good time for a B-Tag party.  They are not exactly a party but a get-together to apply the B-Tags to the race bibs.  No, the bibs do not come with the B-Tags attached – they have to be put on each bib.  It is a labor intensive job.  Schulz wrote that he could squeeze in a couple hours on Saturday afternoon or sometime Sunday.   It looks like the “party” was on Sunday.  If you see Schulz on Monday night looking a little haggard now you know why. 

The course that was changed a few years ago to a loop, rather than an out-and-back has one climb midrace with a corresponding downhill in the last mile.  It is considered fast.  The course record of 15:19 was set by Youssef Rochdi of Rockaway in 2014.  He won the race again in 2015 twenty some seconds slower in 15:40.  In 2015 Roberta Groner of Randolph lowered the course record for females to 17:11, bumping Maria Dana of Kenvil whose time in 2014 was 18:13.

Registration begins at the Eisenhower Middle School at 5:00 p.m.  Parking is at the high school on Hillside Avenue. The race goes off at 7:00 p.m.


Morris area runners will be going to a race that may be unfamiliar to them, now that it was selected as the masters men and women’s championship 5K.  It is the 7th annual New Milford 5K in Bergen County and will be on Saturday, June 18th.  There will be a kids half mile race and some tot dashes, finishing with mile road races.  The 5K championship leads off with an 8:45 a.m. start.

The certified course is described as flat and fast.  Stephen Mennitt of Edison has the course record of 15:26, set in 2015 and Elena Rozhko of Morristown set the female record of 18:00 in 2014.

Fast or not it is a great spectator course with a spot about three quarters of a mile after the start to see who the leaders are and again a quarter mile from the finish to see who is in the lead at that point. 

It sounds like a fun race with a BQ, a beer and wine garden and a live band and D.J.


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

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Investors Bank Foundation gives grant to club grand prix

Note - this is late to be posted.  More than the usual distractions this  past week .  The column was published but I just didn't get it posted here until today, Wednesday.   mb

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, June 5, 2016


USATF- New Jersey has issued a press release announcing the Investors Bank Foundation has provided the association with a Grant in support of the Long Distance Running program’s Club and Team Grand Prix.

The grant will enable the awarding of first place prize money in each division for the 2016 Club Grand Prix.  According to the announcement there are nineteen clubs that compete in the year long series that includes fourteen Championship events.  Championships range from a road mile to half marathon.

Prior to the grand prix the championship races held little attraction to runners, or more accurately the championship status was not a draw for the runners.  Most runners chose a race because of the race and hardly noted the championship status.

When the association introduced the Club and Team Grand Prix back in 1997 the clubs that existed at the time made some effort to get their members to race in the championships, but they weren’t the draw that they are now.  Currently sixteen clubs out of the nineteen have competed in the championships this year.  That’s a huge increase from when the series began.

The awards banquet program for 1997 is interesting.  The winning open men’s team was Breakneck Track Club – a club from south Jersey that made the effort to get to the needed races.  Second went to the Tri-Athletics team from Morristown and the Sneaker Factory, also based in Morris County for the most part.  Neither of those teams exists today. 

The Raritan Valley Road Runners that started out as the dominant club placed in four divisions that first year, more than any other club.  The other teams were the Morris County Striders, the North Jersey Masters, the Central Jersey Road Runners Club and the Amazing Feet Running Club.  The “Feet” still exists as a club but have not competed in New Jersey team races.

Those award winners were likely the only teams that were competing that year.  Contrast that with the current participation.  The adidas Garden State Athletic Club has emerged as a strong open club.  The Morris area Garmin club dominates the younger masters groups.  The Clifton Road Runners Club that had been in existence from long before the grand prix was started is now a very dominanet club thanks to their burgeoning size.  The North Jersey Masters is growing.  Locally there is still the Morris County Striders, but other Morris area clubs have been formed; the Do Run Runners, the Geezers, Highland Hashers, TMB Racing, and NJ Racing Project.

Will this infusion of prize money draw in more and stronger teams?  For twenty years the grand prix has competed for only bragging rights.  The modest purse that each team can win may up the competition but it will still be about pride for beating other teams.  Winning prize money gives it a boost to a higher plane.


It is true that the Roxbury Community Benefit 5K is almost, almost always on the first Monday evening of the month of June, this year it is going to be on the second Monday, June 13th. 

More about the race next week.


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