Sunday, September 18, 2016

Lakeland Hills race could have a surprise winner

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, September 18, 2016


The Lakeland Hills Family YMCA Run for a Cause 5K is a mouthful, but the first year race in Mountain Lakes on Saturday, September 24th will have something else to remember it for.   It could be one of those rare times when the first overall runner to finish is a female.   You might recognize the name – Ashley Higginson.

Higginson is in a complete transition.  She started in her full time position as an attorney with Riker Danzig on Monday, moved from Hunterdon County to her new home in Morristown with her boyfriend Liam Boylan-Pett, and has been on a two week break from training.

Higginson is the former Colts Neck standout, who graduated from Princeton and from Rutgers University and who has focused on the 3,000 meters steeplechase.  She competed at the US Olympic trials and made it to the finals in the steeplechase and although she did not qualify, she has good memories of the effort. 

“It was an amazing experience, training with coach (Frank "Gags" Gagliano), was an amazing experience,” said Higginson.  “The whole experience is one that I can never put into words.”

She is taking a break from the steeplechase, but not from running and competing.    

“I’m thinking of running the roads this fall,” said Higginson.  “Maybe a half marathon this winter and seeing what that means for the spring.  Maybe back on the track in the spring or focusing on the roads.”

She’s running the Mountain Lakes race because a family friend is on the Board of the YMCA and because the race is to support children’s programs at the Y.  She’ll be racing competitively at the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K in Manhattan on Saturday, November 5th, the day before the marathon.

She’s also planning to run a Thanksgiving race but not sure whether one of the many in New Jersey or the Manchester Road Race in CT. 

“I haven’t taken too much time to consider it.  I know I’ll do the Newport 10K in the spring.  Riker Danzig is a major sponsor,” she said.

There will be plenty of competition at the Newport race.  Let’s see who shows up next Saturday to test themselves against one of the fastest women in the US.


How do you qualify as an “old New Jersey runner” I asked Roger Price.

“If you remember the Running New Jersey magazine, I guess,” he said.

“Let’s ask Dean,” he said, referring to Dean Shonts, former proprietor of the Sneaker Factory, team captain of the same named club in Millburn and a lifelong runner and racer.  Shonts set up a Facebook page “Old New Jersey Runner” last spring that now has 872 members and still growing.

Shonts took the question seriously and thought that if someone has been racing since 2000 or earlier you would qualify.  Price mentioned the magazine that was published from 1980 to 1985 and that is now a cherished artifact from that period of racing.  Shonts agreed that was a more likely “old New Jersey runner” qualifier.  

Not that there is any qualification to get into the group and no one under 40 will be barred from the door when the group meets next Sunday, September 25th at the Bar Anticipation in Belmar.  All are welcome as were those who came to the first ever group party at the same location last June.

Coach and runner Joel Pasternack of Clifton brought his entire collection of Running New Jersey to that first meeting.  Many guests spent a good deal of time looking at the race results and searching for their own names.  Some names that pop up of people still racing in 2016 are Price, Bruce Langenkamp of Wharton, Kevin Higgins of Randolph, Mark Washburn of Mendham, and your humble correspondent.  We and many more all qualify as old New Jersey runners and will be at the gathering next week. 


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Contact Madeline Bost at

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