Sunday, June 10, 2018

Beautiful Beast lived up to its name

On Sunday, June 10, 2018


It is unlikely that any of the 143 finishers in the Beautiful Beast of Hunterdon 15 kilometer trail race on Saturday would argue with the title.  Just climbing more than half a mile uphill to the finish was a slow-the-pace-to-a-walk beast.  This was the second year that the race was held and the first to be designated a New Jersey Trail championship.

After the race in 2017, Ed Neighbour of Sparta, the USATF Long Distance Running chair suggested to Managing Director Terry Mullane that he invite the race organizers to apply for championship status.  The suggestion was well received by the race director Eric Eisenhart.
Justin Scheid of Succasunna leapt to the lead at the start when the field completed a small loop on the ESC Hoffman’s Crossing Campus before plunging down the hill that would become the beast on the way back.  He was followed by Patrick Neighbour of Millford, Dominic Grillo of Whitehouse Station, and Lou Palma of Clinton.

The runners disappeared down the Columbia Trail heading east to a turnback onto the local roads paralleling the trail.  From there the course headed toward the Ken Lockwood Gorge with awesome views of the river and falls before taking a trip into the gorge with a beastly climb back out to the trail and heading back to the finish.

When Scheid reappeared, he had a nearly two and a half minute lead over Grillo, who was now in second place.  Palma had overtaken Neighbour and that is how they finished back at the campus.  The surprise finisher was Kristen Prendergast, 37, of Annandale who finished in fifth place in 1:01:51, ahead of the course designer Frank Batiste of Flemington who finished in 1:03.19.
Scheid’s time was 53:06, Grillo’s 55:59 and Palma’s 57:00.


The Roxbury Community Benefit 5K in Succasunna Monday night will seem virtually flat after the 15K beast race.  The race, that starts on Eyland Avenue in front of the Eisenhower Middle School has a small pop up hill in the first mile and another slight grade in the final mile.  That grade is rewarded with one of those wonderful downgrades that fools you into thinking you are flying when in fact you have the pull of gravity speeding your pace. 
Registration at the middle school begins at 5:00 pm, with the race starting at 7:00 pm.  This is a community focused race that attracts plenty of runners from around Morris county and beyond.  In 2017 over five hundred runners competed.
While the sweet course might be a draw, the post race goodies could also be a factor in the turnout.  Pizza, nutrition bars, yogurt and ice cream from the local favorite Cliff’s ice cream makes the price of admission a bargain.

Two New Jersey masters teams had a good day last weekend in Ann Arbor Michigan competing at the masters half marathon championship.

Finishing in first place was the Garden State Track Club New Balance, with Jonathan Frieder of Rye Brook NY in the lead.  Frieder finished fifth overall and first in his M45 age division.  He was followed by Sam Tiegan of Hawthorne who finished just behind Frieder in 1:14:58. Aaron Cooper of Englewood was next for the team with Gary Leaman of Hawthorne back-up man. Leaman finished in third place in the M55 age division.

Reno Stirrat of Rockaway was the top man on the M60 Shore Athletic Club team that placed second to the Atlanta Track Club.  Stirrat finished in 1:26:44 for seventh in the highly competitive M60 division. 

The Garden State team has a lock right now on first place in the season long team grand prix.  With just one more good race they will overcome a weak finish in last December’s club cross country 10kilometer race.  Only the highest scoring five races are counted in the grand prix and the poor races are dropped.  Next up for the teams is the 5K championship in Atlanta in August.


Roberta Groner of Randolph has done it again.  At Saturday’s New York Mini Marathon 10K Groner finished in 11th place and first master woman in 34:10. Not to be outdone, Morristown’s Nora Cary was the first W60 woman to finish with time of 44:28.   Both women age graded above 91% PLP.


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Contact Madeline Bost at

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