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
INVESTORS BANK FOUNDATION GIVES GRANT TO CLUB GRAND PRIX
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.
ROXBURY COMMUNITY BENEFIT IS NOT TOMORROW NIGHT
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.
A calendar of USATF sanctioned events can be found at www.usatfnj.org or at www.raceforum.com for running and tri and biathlon events.
Contact Madeline Bost at email@example.com.