Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, February 4, 2018
New Jersey runners run with the stars
It has often been said that running is a unique sport where the very non-professional runner competes in the same race as the elite. While this is certainly true in road races like marathons and championships, it is closer to real in a national cross country meet.
The elites in cross country warm up on the same grounds, they use the same bank of porta-potties as the rest. They are truly viewed as a part of the same bunch of runners, even though they bear the name of Galen Rupp or Leonard Koirer, Stanely Kebenei or Evan Jaeger.
On Saturday those same men competed at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee FL with the Garden State Track Club and the Shore Athletic Club. The excitement for the masters men's 8km race was as high as for the open men's 10K where Rupp, Koirer, Kebenei and Jaeger competed.
The park's hard pack dirt course features multiple loops of a single hill course with variations for the different distances. The downhill portion featured closely trimmed grass before disappearing from spectator view into the trails. Spectators could watch live as the runners passed the bleachers, or follow on the plexitron that alternated between showing the places of the runners during the race, or shots of them at key places on the course.
In other words, the venue is worthy of any world competition. When the masters men's field went by the viewing area for the first time, Montville's Elliott Frieder was part of the lead pack that included Sam Tiegan of Hawthorn and Jonathan Frieder of Rye Brooke NY. The pack had thinned when the men came by on the next lap but those three maintained their position in the top ten.
The rest of the team, Chuck Schneekloth of Franklin, Thomas Knowles of Oakland and Aaron Cooper of Englewood finished in that order.
Further back Reno Stirrat of Rockaway was the lead man on his Shore Athletic Club's Men 60 team. Next was Kevin Dollard of NY and Scott Linell of Colts Neck and Roger Price of Randolph, finishing in that position.
In the first race of the meet, Susan Stirrat of Rockaway finished 7th in the W60 division and Madeline Bost of Randolph won the W75 division by virtue of being the only entrant in that division.
Oh, back to those elite runners. Korir out kicked Rupp after running side by side down the home stretch, and Kebenei out kicked Jager in their finish line duel.
This meet is a selection meet for the world's cross country meet in odd years. That means that the meet yesterday did not have the entries that it will have in 2019. The 2019 meet will again be at the Apalachee Park on the same course.
While Tallahassee is not easy to reach the park's cross country courses are considered excellent and the park a great venue. The same New Jersey teams are expected back in 2019.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org