Thursday, March 14, 2019

Virginia Beach here we come!

A new website is coming soon.  Here is my first column without the restrictions of writing for the Daily Record and only the local runners and events.


New Jersey runners are heading to Virginia Beach this weekend for the national USATF masters championship 8K road race.  Officially titled the TowneBank Shamrock 8K.  Organizers have let the masters runners know that this is the last year that it will be hosting the masters championship.  I don’t think that is responsible for the good turnout from New Jersey though.

They just like the race and they have spread the word to their fellow runners that this is a great event, from the expo to the race to the post race fun.  It starts two blocks from the ocean boardwalk going out a distance on the absolutely flat streets.  Soon they are on the boardwalk until a short stint back on the street and then back to the boardwalk for the finish.

The reward, for those who care for it, is a glass of Yuengling beer fresh out of the tap and hot Irish Stew.  All of this on the beach in a huge tent that in years past has provided sometimes needed shelter from the elements. 
Returning after their 2018 team grand prix top finish in the M40 division is the Garden State Track Club team.  On the team will be Sam Teigen of Hawthorne, Thomas Knolls of Oakland and Jonathan Frieder of Rye Brook NY.  They are the returning champions in this division.

John Hogan of Washington Township, Harold Porcher of Bloomfield and Gary Leaman of Hardwick, all in their 50’s are also registered.  Porcher and Hogan are being shown on the M40 team as of Thursday, but they can switch to the M50 division and add Leaman for a complete team of three.  In national road championships only three men are needed to score with up to five on the team.

The Shore Athletic Club will have Brian Prendergast of Brick, Timothy McQueen of Ogdensburg, Jan Stofan of Englishtown and Robert Skorupski of Rockaway on their M40 team.  Jeff Conston of Hopewell Junction NY, Brian Hill of Middletown, and Ken Ginsburg of Warren will make up the Shore’s M50 team. 

In 2018 nine M60 teams competed, making it the most competitive division in the race.  Shore’s team finished fourth of those nine teams.  Kevin Dollard of Hopewell Junction NY, Harold Leddy of Bridgewater, Scott Linnell of Colt’s Neck, Michael Mooney of Center Valley, PA and Reno Stirrat of Rockaway will have a full team in the division. 

Unfortunately, it looks like the club’s M70 team will be shy the required third man.  Only Przemyslaw Nowicki of Holmdel and Roger Price of Randolph are entered as this goes to “press”.  If no other Shore runner can make it down, the two will be back-ups on the M40 and M50 teams.

New Jersey will have M70 covered with the Clifton Road Runners team of Ezequiel Garcia of Newark, William Ash of Hewitt, Tony Fiory of Summit and Al Swan of Clifton.  In 2018 the squad placed fifth of five teams, outrun by men in their early 70’s.

The Clifton club will have their W50 team returning.  In 2018 the team of Suzanne La Burt of Greenwood Lake NY, Kerry Monahan Gaughan of River Vale, and Laura DeLea of Sparta placed second the crack Athena Track Club.  Seven teams competed in 2018.

You may have noticed that although I identified these runners as New Jersey runners, when some have New York or Pennsylvania addresses.  These are USATF teams and the rules allow team members from outside their own geographical boundaries – at least for now.

When you don’t have a full team in the older age divisions you have to drop all your runners down into the age division of the youngest member of your club.  The Shore’s women did just that last year and are doing it again in 2019.  Susan Stirrat of Rockaway, W60, Leslie Nowicki of Holmdel, W50, will run with Christine Hill of Middletown and Necia McQueen of Ogdensburg on the Shore’s W40 team. 

One runner, the true headliner this year, will be running without a team.  Roberta Groner of East Ledgewood, who is training for the Rotterdam Marathon taking place on Sunday, April 7th has entered the race.  Her New York Athletic Club has not sent a team.  Groner will be paling with her New Jersey friends but running team-less.

 Groner has been hitting the tops of the age grading charts since aging into that magical category of “masters” last year.  If she is the first masters woman overall and at the top of the age grading chart, she could go home with $ 800.00 for her five mile romp.  Who would bet against it?


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