Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, April 29, 2018
NEWPORT 10,000 DOES IT RIGHT
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.
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