Published in the DAILY RECORD of Morris County NJ
on Sunday, March 19, 2017
SEASON OPENS WITH THREE DISTANCE RACES
Distance runners have three options next weekend. They can run ten miles or half marathon at one of the three 700 point grand prix pseudo championship races. The three races only look like a championship because of the high point value but lack the team competition. It is something new for the USATF NJ Long Distance Running committee and when they received championship bids from those three, they decided to feature a season opener with those races.
It will give runners who want to compete in the Mini Three grand prix an early opportunity to grab one of the three 700 points races allowed in the longest distance mini series. This change from two to three 700 point races with a maximum of five races was approved at the February 2017 Long Distance Running committee meeting.
Two of the races are first timers; the Garden State Ten Miler on Sunday, and the Baker’s Dozen Half Marathon on Saturday. The third is the Ocean Drive Ten Miler on Sunday that is run along with a full marathon and a 5K in Sea Isle City.
The courses for the Sea Isle marathon and ten mile race have been changed after concerns from the runners that the previous point to point courses meant running into a head wind the entire length of their race. They will now be run on out and back courses with the wind at their back about half of the time. The start and finish are not at the same location. A shuttle will take runners to the start.
Another change for the Ocean Drive race is to break their ten year age divisions into five year divisions up to 70 and older. While that is a happy change, the $90.00 race entry fee may hold a runner back. Wait until the Saturday Expo and it will go up another ten.
The Baker’s Dozen 13.1 on Saturday March 25, in Montclair had an entry fee of $95.00. But it is a moot point as the online registration is closed after hitting a cap of 1,300. The race sold out in just four days. Obviously the cost to register was not a deterrent.
Runners should be prepared for a challenging course with a number of turns. Due to road closure considerations the Montclair police department asked the organizers to start the race an hour earlier than was originally planned. It will now start at 7:00 a.m.
The Garden State Ten Miler that starts and finishes in Colonial Park in Somerset might be the fastest ten mile course in the state. The Garden State race has a lot going for it. The entry fee is a mere $50.00 even while offering prize money to the top three open finishers and the top three age graded masters. Like the Ocean Drive event, there is more than one race going on. A 5K will go off at 8:45 a.m. and the ten mile race will start at 9:30 a.m. This schedule allows for the Half Marathon Challenge that entices a runner to do both the 5K and the ten mile for a total of 13.1 miles. The ten mile race also will feature a relay where one runner hands off after four miles and the second runner completes the course.
Artesian bread, pastries and donuts will await the finishers of the Baker’s Dozen Half. Could that be why so many have signed up?
On the other hand, after the Garden State Ten Miler runners are invited to head down to Somerset’s Stagehouse Tavern with a huge menu and an even bigger bar, and two dollar drinks thanks to Molson Coors.
I doubt that runners are picking a race from the post race offerings, but it is a fun contradiction. Satisfy a sweet tooth or quench a beer thirst.
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.