Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, Oct 28, 2018
THRILLER AT DEER PATH PARK
The rivalry this past Sunday at Deer Path Park in the New Jersey cross country 8 kilometer championship was evident on the faces of the top runners as they sped to the finish line. There was no masking the intensity as the Breakneck team and the Garden State Track Club New Balance top men put the hammer down.
That it was going to be a contest between those two teams was well known after the 5 kilometer race at Natirar in August where the Breakneck men beat the Garden State A team by 20 points. Garden State usually splits their huge roster up with their best men scattered among the several teams they field. It cost them the win in August when their seventh and eighth man was on the B team. All of the Breakneck men were on their one and only team in August.
It wasn’t going to happen again. The top men were on the Garden State club’s A team. Breakneck was back and with Colin Frost of Randolph back in racing shape after his short layoff following his dnf marathon debut.
Nothing was going to stop them from a fine performance. Nothing perhaps except the weather. After a beautiful Saturday, Sunday’s dawn was marred by a cold front that had come in overnight. Deer Path Park was once a farm with wide open fields that provided no resistance to the whipping winds.
The game runners set out to do a warm up on the course that they would run three times. Coming back from the far field they discovered the Mud Pit had returned. Heavy and persistent rains had restored the infamous low spot back to its famed condition. Run through it or to either side of it, there would be no escaping the sucking mud.
In more benign conditions the runners will begin to assemble at the start early to find their position and to do a few strides. Not on Sunday. Only reluctantly did the runners shed their outer coverings and line up for the start. The smoke from the starters pistol dissipated with the wind and the race was on. The two rival squads quickly went to the lead with a pack of the best men seeking to reach the end of the field and onto the path in a good position.
The course at the park can handle two running abreast but it is not easy to pass slowing runners so a good position is important here. Each loop of the course is roughly 2.5 kilometer, with the last half a kilometer made up in the run to the finish. The lead pack emerged from the low-lying field to complete their first loop and spectators could see that the pack had settled into a pace that was keeping them bunched. No need just yet to test one another.
Spectators also noticed that the runners were displaying entire backsides splattered with mud from the Mud Pit. None had managed to evade it.
Slower runners were trailing the field, and very slow runners were being lapped by the pack that was now going into their final tour of the course. The lead pack had thinned now as some had not managed the quickening pace as they disappeared on their final lap.
Spectators craned to see who would emerge from the distant low-lying field. The lead pack was completely scattered now, strung out and in the lead was Frost, followed by fellow Breaknecker Brian Quilty of Pitman. In third was Justin Scheid of Succasunna, running for the Shore Athletic Club. After Scheid was another Breaknecker, Eric Dubois, also of Pitman. Finally, in fifth place was the first Garden State runner, Stephen Rathbun of Springfield. Nick DeSantis of Wanaque finished as the fifth Breakneck runner. Breakneck took it with 27 points to Garden State’s 37.
The Garden State’s open women’s team had no trouble winning for the club. Lead in by Shelby Goose of Englewood, the team finished the top four women before Clifton’s Hortencia Aliaga of Garfield finished in fifth place. The Shore Athletic Club took second and the Raritan Valley Road Runners were third.
The masters team divisions had the Garmin M40 and M50 teams in first place with Garden State in second in both of those divisions. The Shore AC took third in both divisions with the lesser players making up the ten M40 teams and the seven M50 teams.
In the M60 division, the Shore club finished their A and B teams in first and second place with the Garden State team finishing in third out of twelve teams. The Shore also placed first in the M70 division.
Aliaga, who is 47, brought her Clifton W40 team into first place over newcomer Bella N Motion with the North Jersey Masters in third. Clifton also won the W50 division, but the Shore club took first in the W60 division.
Local runners with fine performances include Reno Stirrat of Rockaway who scored third in the masters men age grading with his 83.40% PLP, Terry Davidson of Randolph with a 79.19%, and Peter Kashulines of Mountain Lakes with a 78.17%.
Local women were Nora Cary of Morristown who was first in the age grading with an 86.59%, Laura DeLea of Sparta, fourth at 77.64%, and Susan Stirrat of Rockaway in eighth place with 75.53%.
To look up the complete results go to.