Sunday, July 24, 2016

Verizon race has been rescheduled

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, July 24, 2016


The Verizon Corporate Classic has found a new date and a new distance.   It will go off at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 4th from Atno Avenue next to the Morristown high school, just as had been planned before the race had to be cancelled when a furious storm threw trees and wires on the 5K course.

Those things remain the same, but the distance has been shortened from a 5K, or aka 3.1 miles to a two mile course.  It is also not going to be timed and no awards will be given.  How this will affect the turnout is unknown.

The last time the course was shortened was in 2013 when heat had become a factor.  The decision to shorten the course was made that same day so folks who had planned to run were on their way.  Since the race – well now we must call it an event – was not timed there is also no count of the participants.

With a head’s up that it is not a race and the distance has been chopped there may be people who will not show.  On the other hand there may be plenty of people who welcome a shorter course and don’t care one bit how fast they run. 

And, and it’s a big And, if they want their souvenir T-Shirt and their goody bag, they must show up to claim them.  


In 2015 I wrote about the Team Bloke 5K and Doug Clark and his upbeat, even inspiring attitude while he battles an aggressive brain tumor.  The race was created to help the Clark’s, who live in Mendham, with non covered medical expenses.

Clark is a national caliber triathlete.  His battle with the cancer began in November of 2014 and although he has been a model patient it has been a rough year.    Prayers as well as a race entry fee or a flat out donation would really help to lift the family’s spirits.  The race is on Saturday August 4th in Mendham.  


Run a mile?   No way!  Well. Way.   Yes of course most readers of this column are LDR folks, as in Long Distance Running.  What’s a mile doing parading as a road race? 

Road miles were at one time quite the thing in long distance racing.  They brought out the track milers and tempted the distance runners.  Road miles have made a small comeback, and New Jersey, being on the cutting edge of the running scene added a road mile two years ago down the shore and last year it was run in New Brunswick – the College Avenue Mile.

That race did not happen this year and now the mile races, both for open athletes and masters athletes is being hosted by the Midland Avenue Mile in Montclair.  The mile is a point to point along Midland Avenue that according to the race website has been newly paved and has zero turns.  You will start at one spot on the avenue and just run until you reach the finish at the other end.  Simple.

Open runners will run in one heat and masters runners will be divided into groups according to their age divisions.  The Men 60+ first, then Women 50+, then Men 50, on down with each race about ten minute increments.   The older women and men will need a little bit longer than ten minutes but it appears that the time schedule is flexible.

The open races will be seeded by time into three heats.  All of this will make for a very fair and fun race.  Clubs may need to exert a little pressure on their members to get full teams and they have an incentive to do so.  It’s that one point for the teams that finish out of the point spread.  All teams earn at least that one point.  The team scoring this year is going to be really interesting and this mile may weed out the - well sorry to have to print this – the chickens.

Be brave dear runners and grab some points for your team. 

I am taking a summer break.  Look for this column again on Sunday, July 21st. 


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Verizon race cancelled by Mother Nature

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, July 17, 2016


Yes, the Morristown Police cancelled the Verizon Corporate Challenge on Thursday evening, but it was really Mother Nature who made the call.

Rolling rapidly through Morris County an Apocalyptic summer storm tore into Morristown and surrounding areas in what some have described as a tornado.  The weather service disagrees but the effects were much the same with trees down and taking power lines down with them.

A Facebook photo montage posted by Robert Barwick shows the destruction at Morristown High School that took out four of the organizer’s canopies and flung them about like rags on a pole.

Race director Dan Brannen did reconnaissance of his own after getting word from the police that the race could not go on.

“Immediately after the storm, while it was still winding down, I drove the middle section of the course.” Said Brannen.  “There was a tree which had fallen on a wire, and there was a situation where the wire was up in its normal position on one side and all the way on the ground in the other side.  The tree was hanging on the wire.  At any moment the wire could go, and then the tree would go.”

Worse hit along the course was Washington Avenue according to Brannen.

“The police had it completely closed off and JCP&L had trucks there,” he said.  “As of eleven p.m. Thursday night the road was still closed.”

Brannen said that the police commandeered their orange traffic cones that were to have been used to create a running lane for the runners and put them to use to block roads.

Most cancelled events, like the Verizon race, do not attempt to reschedule.  Yet the organizers of the event would like to reschedule if possible.  The uniqueness of the event almost demands a do-over.

While the storm was tearing through the high school parking lot staff was able to salvage all of the Goody Bags and the Goody Bags in this race are a very big deal to the participants. 

They were able to salvage about half of the-shirts.  Half of the brand new, just printed T-shirts were ruined and will have to be replaced.

“At the very least we owe it to our participants to come somewhere and turn in their bib tag and get their T-shirt and Goody Bag,” said Brannen. 

They do not have a location where these things can be available for people to come in and pick up.  So it has to be done is such a way that everyone comes at the same time. 

“Logistically it’s the only way that it can be done,” he said.  “So if we’re going to do that why not try to recreate the event in some form.”

So many factors go into rescheduling.  The professionals who put on the event have other events on their schedule.  Like the River to Sea that Brannen co directs that will be taking place on Saturday, August 6th. 

Approval would have to be given by the town council to run the full 5K course again.  Is the timing company and crew available?  Are the key volunteer groups available?

“We are in the process of researching dates, but we have to take a shotgun approach with about ten different entities,” he said.  “By shotgun I mean, you can’t check with the town council and get approval from them and then go to the school and get approval from them.  Go back to the timing and scoring company – you have to do it all at once.”

Because of the nature of the event it would have to be a week day evening Brannen pointed out.  With each passing day a bit of daylight is lost.  Ambient lighting on the course for the slower runners who might take an hour to finish the course has to be considered.

With all of these factors to consider Brannen was emphatic that they intend to reschedule the event in some form. 

“We are reaching out to all the appropriate parties,” he said.  “But we haven’t pinned anything down yet.”

The Verizon race website is sure to post more information when it is available and notify team captains of any decisions that are made.


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, July 10, 2016

New Course for the Verizon Corporate Classic in Morristown

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, July 10, 2016


Sure, you got to run down Speedwell Avenue at the start of the Verizon Corporate Classic in Morristown, then hang a left and run down Atno Avenue.  Sounds good, doesn’t it.  But what happens in an out-and-back race?  You had to run back up those two hills to get to the finish. 

Now maybe that didn’t bother the elite runners who fly up hills like they are not there.  For the five thousand other runners in the race, those hills became mountains as they struggled to finish their 5K.

Well, now those mountains are gone.  You don’t even go near Speedwell and only down Early, at the start of the newly remodeled 5K that will take place on Thursday evening in Morristown.

“All the hilliest parts of the course are still there,” said race director and course designer Dan Brannen of Morristown. 

When pressed about those “mountains” Brannen did opine that the significant climb in the last half mile has been eliminated and that may be welcome news to the many recreational runners in the race

“In fact you have a significant downhill coming into the finish,” he pointed out.

All staging of the huge event will take place in Morristown High School’s parking lot, a far larger venue than the plaza on Speedwell.   It will allow for an orderly arrangement of tables for each of the companies fielding teams and where each team can meet-up.  A map will be produced in advance showing where every company is, laid out by a combination of team size and the alphabet.  

“We feel that we are making some significant improvements and that is one of them,” Brannen said.

There will be plenty of pre and post race water courtesy of first time sponsor Culligan water company, and boxes of bananas, but no more elaborate spreads.

“This is a big evening for most companies and this is a team bonding opportunity,” said Brannen.  “Most of them go out to the local restaurants after the race.”

Having an easier course could help with the bonding as well, with a little less late-in-race fatigue.  Brannen explained that the start on Speedwell Avenue was very congested with those five thousand plus runners.

“We had that wide street (Speedwell) and within a couple hundred yards we had to narrow down to that left turn onto Early,” he said.  “Now there is no narrowing after the start.  Narrowing of a course from the start line into the course always causes bottlenecks.  Now we don’t have that.”

Runners may recall that for the past two years the event had to use wave starts to handle the volume of runners.  With the start now on Early Street it will not be necessary.  They will line up curb to curb and run curb to curb.  

Although much of the course will be on the same streets that have been used in the past, it could look different for the runners.  On many parts of the course they will be running in reverse of the old course and adding additional streets to get the mileage needed.  Heading back they will return to the high school not on Early Street where they started, but on Washington Street and then onto Atno Avenue with the nice downhill run to the finish

As of Friday afternoon the race had reached its cap and all team entries had been closed earlier in the week.  No registration will take place on race day.  Timing is done using computer chip timing due to the large number of entrants.  Only the top three overall men and women receive awards but all runners will have their chip time registered and published after the race.

Free parking will be available at the Headquarters Plaza parking garage as in the past.    Runners are encouraged to go to for more information and a look at the new course layout.

Roberta Groner of Randolph won the women’s race at the Brentwood 5K on July fourth in PA with a time of 17:00.


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, July 3, 2016

Groner chalks up two wins in one week

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, July 3, 2016


Roberta Groner, 38, of Randolph won the women’s division of the Fitzgerald’s Lager run 5K this past Sunday in 16:37.  Groner was fifth overall and just two seconds off the PR she set at the New Milford 5K the week before.

Twenty-five year old Rob Albano of Pompton Plains won the race in 15:20.  The open men’s championship drew an even two dozen teams, with the local club, the North Jersey Masters claiming first in the team division.  Second went to the Morris area Garmin team lead in by Karl O’Reilly of Morristown who placed second overall in 16:20.

The Clifton Road Runners took third and the Shore Athletic Club was fourth with 62 year old Reno Stirrat of Rockaway their second scoring man with his 18:19 that age graded at 88.56%.  In fifth place was the newly formed Freedom Runners team, lead in by Atilla Sabahoglu of Somerset in 16:36, just ahead of Groner.

New kids on the block, NJ Racing Project and also a Morris area club placed eighth with Beau Atwater of Bernardsville first man on the team in 17:54, good for second behind Stirrat at 87.68% in age grading.

Nora Cary, 61, of Morristown finished in 20:58 winning her age division and scoring first on the masters age grading at 89.43%.  Groner’s 16:37 puts her first in that category at 90.30% when all ages are combined.

Over 1,150 runners finished the race in what was the most favorable weather ever for the race that starts at 6:15 p.m.   A cool breeze along with low humidity made for perfect summer racing.


Roberta Groner did it again.  On Thursday night at the Sunset Classic in Bloomfield Groner finished eleventh overall in 29:59.  With an identical time training partner Beau Atwater finished in twelfth place.

Groner is running in the Brentwood Firecracker 5K, near Pittsburg on the Fourth of July, so the Sunset Classic was not a target race.  In fact Atwater said that they started together with the intention of running at a conversational pace for the first couple of miles; then pick up the pace enough to have negative splits.  He said that Groner was encouraging him to stay on pace the last couple of miles in order to register those negative splits.


Groner wasn’t the only Morris area woman to win a race this week.   Elena Rozhko of Morristown won the Frantic Fun Run 5K at Fosterfields Living Historical Farm on Tuesday evening.  Rozhko, 43, finished the cross country style race in 20:43, first overall.  Leonard Huffman, 42, of Bedminster finished next in 21:33.


The first race of the Morris County Striders 5K summer series was the day after the President’s Cup Night Race and three days after the New Milford 5K.  Yet there was a good turnout for the race with 101 finishers.  This Tuesday, July 5th is the second of four races.

The first race was won by Robert Skorupski of Rockaway in 17:58.  It was a sweet victory for Skorupski who also won the first race of the 2015 season in 18:47.  On the women’s side Caroline Perry of Hopatcong was first in 22:08

The race is run on a newly cindered cross country course at Johanson Field off Powerville Road in Boonton Township.  Start time is 7:00 p.m.


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