Sunday, April 29, 2018

Newport 10,000 does it right

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, April 29, 2018


Back a few years ago.  Well, make that more than a few – make that many years ago, New Jersey was an unprotected state.  Hun?   Yes, our races were unprotected.  New Jersey races that had some prize money ended up in a listing – a “little black book” of sorts.  Agents for very fast and sort-of-fast runners scoured the “little black book” looking for money races for their athletes to enter.

These runners did not live in New Jersey.  They did live in one of the surrounding states; most notably Pennsylvania and New York, where they trained.  We are talking about athletes who originated from a foreign country and who were here on an athlete visa.

Golly, gee whiz.  It was sure exciting to have those really, really fast runners come to little ‘ole New Jersey to race, and to take away -  wait a minute!   They came to little ‘ole New Jersey for one reason.  Race and get out of the state as fast as they came, clutching the prize money that had been offered.  It was so easy.  A quick day trip to New Jersey from Pennsylvania or New York.

New Jersey race organizers soon realized that they were doing nothing for their races by offering that prize money.  The local fast runners, seeing the prize money, and knowing that the “carpet baggers” would show up on race day, stayed away.  Those fast guys and girls were not so well known that the local papers cared and the local runners were boycotting the “carpet bagger” races.

This is what is called a Light Bulb Moment.  With the help of the USATF New Jersey Long Distance Running committee the races put a caveat on their purse money.  The money would go only to USATF NJ members, or at the very least, to New Jersey residents.  Now you could have a competitive race with New Jersey’s elites racing for the purse money and the out-of-staters looking elsewhere for money races.  This change brought back the local runners.

Why did this come up?  Next Saturday New Jersey has the exemption to the rule in the form of the Newport 10,000.  The race is perfectly designed to attract those out-of-state elites while treating the New Jersey elite runners fairly.  The prize money is substantial enough to attract runners from throughout the country to the “Elite Division” and the “American Elite Division”, also known as professional racers.   Meanwhile, another division is for the open men and women of New Jersey who will vie for purse money specifically for their championship division.

How does this work out?  In 2017 the fastest man hit the tape in 29:46. Craig Lutz, age 24, came all the way from Flagstaff AZ to do that.

On the women’s side, Rosa Moriello of Brighton MA finished in 34:17 to capture first place prize money.  Roberta Groner, then 39, of Randolph was the first local woman, although she more rightly fits into the elite category.  She finished in 35:27 for third, not far behind a woman from Bend OR.  Ashley Higginson who now lives in Morristown finished tenth overall in 36:13.

The first three local elite men finished in a cluster in 14th, 16th, and 18th places; Aaron Leskow of Morristown in 31:28, Rob Nihan of Glen Rock in 32:46. and Kyle Price of North Brunswick in 32:53.

That this prize purse plan works well for the New Jersey runners is evident when looking at the team competition.  Twenty-one complete New Jersey men’s teams and fifteen women’s teams competed in 2017.

This scene will be repeated next Saturday in Jersey City with the 2018 Newport 10,000.  The one race in New Jersey where the elites of the nation are welcome along with the New Jersey runners. 


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 22, 2018

Springless Boston weather beats up the marathon runners

On Sunday, April 22, 2018


Reports from the runners who ran in the Boston Marathon on Monday tell a real horror story of time spent in aid tents along the course shaking with hypothermia.  More than once in an aid tent for some and plenty who needed aid when they finally crossed the finish line.  Ninety-one runners were reported to have been taken to local hospitals.

While television viewers watched with fascination and concern as the elite runners created the story with Desiree Linden the eventual winner after pausing to help her fellow Americans Shalane Flanagan and Molly Huddle   It has been reported that Linden herself considered dropping out like many of the elites did. 

We watched as the unlikely men’s winner, Japanese runner Yuki Kawauchi finished, wearing only arm warmers for added protection from the rain and wind.  Kawauchi was running in his fourth marathon this year!  His fourth win, too.  Can it get anymore awesome than that?

Of course, back in the pack the non-elite runners were also struggling with the wind, the rain, and the cold and if they finished, finishing in their personal worst.  Joe Sikora, the 66-year-old runner from Succasunna who you read about here last week was one of those struggling to finish.

Sikora reported that it was his second slowest of the 33 Boston marathons he has now done.  He has dubbed this year’s marathon as the “Hypothermia Boston”, that he finished in 4:55:00.   The “Heatstroke Boston” was in 2012 when he finished three and a half minutes slower in 4:58:28.

“Both years I was going in at under four hour shape,” Sikora wrote in an email.  “Nevertheless, I persisted.”

Sikora persisted because that is what you do at Boston.  You train hard to get in shape and you have invested a lot of energy to qualify for Boston by running in a previous marathon.  You have little choice but to start and then persist. 
Only two men from this area finished in under three hours; Kevin Fitzgerald of Wharton finished in 2:58:02 and Justin Scheid of Succasunna in 2:59:32.   Brianna Deming of Morristown went under three with her 2:56:39 and Jenna Robeson of Randolph was the next fastest local woman with a 3:11:59.


The early bird gets the worm and the early runners get the points.  A very poor metaphor to let you know that Charlie Slaughter, 63, of Parsippany, with six races already on his tally has the lead in the New Balance Grand Prix.  Karl Leitz, 52, of Jersey City is second with five races, while his wife Aya Leitz, 41, is the top woman with five races also.  Shannon McKenna, 27, of Parlin is second and in third?  None other than 63-year-old Nora Cary of Morristown.  Cary is only seven points off from McKenna.  Both have only four races in.

Only one championship race has been run so far, and the Garmin sponsored club and team grand prix is interesting in the scarcity of clubs having a score.  The first championship was the challenging Indian Trails 20K and many clubs decided to let the race be their one allowed non scoring race.  The top five clubs in descending order are Garden State Track Club New Balance, Clifton Road Runners, Garmin, Raritan Valley Road Runners and Fleet Feet Essex.

Next up is the Clinton Country Run 15K on April 28.  The 15K is nowhere near as hilly as the Indian Trails course, although it does have a long climb between mile five and six.  Still, 9.3 will feel like a cake-walk after the 12.4 miles at Indian Trails.

The Woods and Lakes 5 and 10K runs always draw local runners who will eschew the Clinton race in order to run in the woods, on trails, and over sand in the 41st running of the race in Mountain Lakes.  Runners under age 30 need not apply.  The race was created way back when there were few runners over age 30 that had a chance to star in a race.  Now, of course, there are plenty who are double that age who compete.  Those over age 70 get to run for free. 
No, the race is not a grand prix race.  It is what it is.  A fun race with adult beverage awards. 

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 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