Sunday, April 15, 2018

Leskow wins the 20K Indian Trails championship

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, April 15, 2018


It hasn’t taken Aaron Leskow long to establish his credentials as one fast young runner.  Leskow moved to Morristown in 2016 after graduating from Saint Josephs University in Philadelphia.  Leskow has always been in the top three to five in New Jersey races since his arrival.

This past Sunday he won the challenging Indian Trails 20K championship in Middletown after running down early leader Michael Dixon of Highland Park.  In an email Leskow affirmed that it was the first time to run the race.

“It was quite an experience,” he said.  “Very hilly, but nice terrain and views.”

An understatement of course.  In the final miles of the race the runners climb to what seems to be the top of the world and are rewarded with a wide, unbelievable view of the Manhattan skyline.

Leskow said that he passed Dixon right after hitting mile ten.  “He was up there for quite awhile, so it was fun to go chase for a little bit.”

Leskow finished in 1:09:57 while Dixon followed soon after in 1:10:19.  Ericka Meling of High Bridge was the top woman finisher.  She finished in 1:23:59.

Meling and Leskow share the honor of leading in their respective Garden State Track Club teams to first place in their open divisions.  The Garmin women’s team placed second in the open division and their open men placed third after the GSTC A and B teams.

The Morris area Garmin club won the M40 and M50 divisions while their women’s 40 and 50 teams placed second to the Clifton Road Runners club.

Local runners had a good showing, with  Stacey Slaughter,25, of Parsippany the seventh woman to finish.  Her time was 1:30:39.  Stuart Haynes,42, of Chatham scored as the first masters man and second in age grading with Reno Stirrat, 63, of Rockaway leading in the age grading with an 80% PLP.  Nora Cary, 63, of Morristown finished in 1:38:05 with an 84.6% PLP.  Mary Christian, 54, of Flanders finished in 1:35:38 and fifth in age grading at 77.0%.  It is interesting to note that all of the age grading percentages were a bit on the low side thanks to the difficult course.


Stephen Mennitt, now living in Brooklyn but previously a New Jersey resident was unable to wrap up a transfer to the Freedom Running Club and not able to run the 20K for his new team, instead went to Newark’s Branch Brook Park and won the Cherry Blossom 10K this past Sunday.  His time was 33:01, well over a minute ahead of second place.  Carly Graham of Hoboken was the women’s winner in 39:32.  Heather McDermott of Morristown placed third in 42:23.  Close to a thousand runners finished the race.  Only young cherry trees had begun to bloom in the park, thanks to the brutal New Jersey winter, making the title of the race quite a misnomer.


Joe Sikora of Succasunna has to be New Jersey’s ultimate Marathon Man.  On Monday he will be running in his 33rd Boston Marathon and it will be his 25th consecutive marathon.  His wife Anna Lisa has created a 3 foot by 3 foot banner to mark the occasion.  It reads “BOSTON STRONG,  JOE’S 33RD BOSTON MARATHON, 25 IN A ROW.  Thirty three marathons are quite enough, but it will actually be Sikora’s 189th. 

The sixty-six year old Sikora said that he will be doing only two or three marathons per year for now on the “preserve whatever longevity that I may have left”.

Marathoner David Epstein has posted his weather view for Monday and it will not make the runner’s happy.  He says that a storm system approaching from the west will drag a series of frontal systems through the region. 

Quoting Epstein,   For the runners, it will be quite chilly in the morning as they arrive in Hopkinton. With showers around, the wet will only add to the chill. The good news is that temperatures will get into the 50s, and perhaps even 60s, late in the morning or in the early part of the afternoon.

It seems that the runners can’t win anymore in Boston.  Either it gets too hot or too cold.  I’m not sure when they had perfect running weather for the race.  After all the training and the work to qualify for a Boston opportunity they have no choice but to go for it, weather or not.  Best wishes for all runners to have a good race.


The MK5K, now known as the Ryan Steidl Memorial 5K, has moved from its customary Saturday to Sunday, April 22nd.  The race starts and finishes on Pocono Road at the campus of St. Claire’s Hospital in Denville.   It is a fast course that the race website says has been newly repaved. 


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, April 8, 2018

Ed Neighbour: Dedicated volunteer, dedicated runner

On Sunday, April 8, 2018


Ed Neighbour of Sparta, wears many hats in service to the sport that he has enjoyed since he was a boy.   He is currently the President of the Morris County Striders, but that pales in significant when compared to his service to USATF.   His involvement with the New Jersey association began in 2005 when he was asked to fill a vacancy on the Long Distance Running Committee.  He became the division chair in 2008.

In 2011 Neighbour was elected president of the association and served two full terms of office, vacating the position in 2017.  Presidents and vice presidents may serve for only two three-year terms.

“I always got more enjoyment out of being the LDR division chair.  Not that it hasn’t had its moments”, said Neighbour.  “I’m more in my comfort zone there”. 

One of the USATF president’s duties is to act as the master of ceremonies at the annual awards banquet, which has grown in size to 500 participants.

“That was my biggest apprehension about becoming president,” Neighbour said with a chuckle. 

Neighbour credits his father with turning him onto running.

“My father got caught up in the first running boom and I started going to races with him.  I was probably 11 or 12 years old.”

Back then Ed Neighbour the elder, was a very competitive masters runner and his son remembers how his dad would get wound up prior to races. 

“He was in his own zone,” said Neighbour.  Son and father ran in the early Ridgewood Run 10Ks and the Giralda Farms 10K.  Dad even took him to Deer Path Park to run in a cross country race.

Despite his early start in the sport, Neighbour did not run on a team while in high school nor in college.  He did continue to run while attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy NY and ran several New York City marathons and in Philadelphia.  While in his 30’s Neighbour ran shorter races and turned back to marathons in his 40’s.  By then he was able to choose destination marathons, including Rome, Madrid and Buenos Aires.

Neighbour has run the Big Sur marathon in California three times and clearly loves the scenic Highway 1 along the rugged California coast.  His first Big Sur was in 2011 when the course had to be changed to an out-and-back due to a portion of the highway sliding into the Pacific Ocean.  The other two times he ran the full point to point course.

“You start at Big Sur and you run through the Redwoods for five miles and then you come out and you get your first glimpse of the ocean,” said Neighbour, adding that is when the runners know how much of a head wind they will be running into.

A week after one of the Big Sur marathons Neighbour found a trail race to run and has since added trail racing to his repertoire, an offshoot that he really enjoys.  After two years with no marathons, Neighbour will be doing his 26th this year, although he is still choosing the right one

This morning Neighbour is in Middletown, running the Indian Trails 20K.  It’s a race he describes tongue in cheek as rolling, knowing full well the course is all hills.  He feels that he is ready for the distance having come through December and January training with no trouble.  It has just been February fluctuations and March’s nor’easters that have been a challenge.

“I’d always start out with a plan, a fixed idea of what I wanted to do with mileage, and always bargain myself into running more,” said Neighbour.  “I’d go out and ‘I’ll just do five’ and then, ‘I’m OK, I’ll do six’, and that would turn into seven.”

Neighbour runs with his club on Wednesday evenings, and when he is not at a race, he joins club members for Sunday runs.  Some Saturdays the club will have an impromptu run on the Columbia Trail in Long Valley, which is where they were this past weekend.  Neighbour did twelve miles on the flat converted railroad bed, ready to go the distance at today’s 12.4 miles.  After the race he will put on his LDR cap and hand out championship awards to his fellow USATF competitors. 


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, April 1, 2018

Distance races early in the season

On Sunday, April 1, 2018


Somehow it seems counterintuitive that there is an abundance of distance races in New Jersey this time of year.  With the racing season just starting, we have already had a half marathon in Montclair and a ten miler in Somerset Park.  Next weekend the first state championship of the season will be the 20K in Navesink.

Let’s get real.  With this endless winter, with snow storms week after week, who has been able to train for really long distance races?  Well, apparently quite a few runners. 

At the Baker’s Dozen half marathon last Sunday, Justin Scheid of Succasunna stayed well ahead of New Yorker Mike Horowicz to finish in 1:14:23 with Horowicz finishing in 1:14:57.   Third place was taken by the Randolph’s, Roberta Groner who finished in 1:17:21.  Behind those three was another 1,126 runners.  That’s not all.  The relay had 85 teams; all sporting unique team names that make it impossible to properly identify the top finishers.

At the Garden State ten miler that is run from Colonial Park in Somerset, Aaron Leskow of Morristown led in 453 runners with a finish time of 53:33.  Kristin Andrews of Manalapan was the first woman and finished in 1:03:44.  In the 5K, Kyle Price of Milltown won the race in 15:40 and Emily Rosario finished in 18:30 for first woman.  Over 340 runners finished the 5K.

Only two weeks later and these runners can go to Middletown to run in the Indian Trails 20K that takes them up and down the hills of Navesink in what has to be the most challenging 20K, for sure, and maybe most challenging of any race in New Jersey. 

Last year was the first year that the Indian Trails morphed from a 15K into a 20K and the first year that it was the 20K championship.  Joshua Izewski of Doylestown, who won the New Balance grand prix in 2017, won the 20K in 1:08.06.  Justin Scheid was second in 1:09.53.  Hannah Echstein of Middletown was the first woman in 1:19:29.

Runners have been flocking to shorter races too.  At the Are You Faster Than a Ridge Runner 5K in Basking Ridge last Sunday, 259 runners finished.  There was a race at Duke Island Park on Saturday although I haven’t been able to find the results.


With the snow finally melting, Friday was the first day that I tried to run on what I call the Chester Trail, other’s call it Madeline’s Trail, and what it might be called by others is the Black River Wildlife Management Trail, or the West Morris Greenway.  It runs from Horseshoe Lake Park in Succasunna down to Chester Township.  I start in Ironia at Pleasant Hill Road.  I went in about an eighth of a mile and encountered a tree across the trail. 

It was easy to climb over so I resumed my jogging pace, sidestepping branches and sticks that were littering the trail.  At the little parking area that is at the end of Main and Chester, a very, very large tree is covering the entire parking area.  I climbed over it, and then found myself ducking and climbing for the next mile and a half. 

A railroad bed trail is obviously an out-and-back trail and on my way back I took photos of each tree; duck-under or climb-over.  I didn’t photo the last two because my cell phone ran out of power.  There were 14 blockages in that mile and a half! I don’t know how bad it is on the next three miles of trail down to Pleasant Hill Road in Chester, but I am sure there have to be other trees down.

I’ve notified the Morris County Park trail manager, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes some time to clear the trail.  Similar trails throughout the county are surely in the same condition and as of Friday “my” trail was too soft to hold up under heavy equipment. 


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