FREEHOLD, NJ - Six hundred and eighty-seven road racers competed in the 22nd annual St. Paddy’s 10 Mile Race (411, total) and 17th annual Leprechaun 5K (276, total) presented by the Freehold Area Running Club (FARC) at Michael J Tighe Park, Freehold Township, on the good-racing weather morning of Sunday, March 20, the day that the Vernal Equinox will arrive at 7:21 p.m. which marks the end of winter and the start of spring.

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Photos by Bob Both - www.jsrc.org

Coming in first place of the 10-miler from the out-and-back course that started and finished at the Park, and used the Roads of Georgia, Nomoco, Pittenger Pond, Jackson Mills, Stonehill, along with DeCicco Circle, and Brandon, Diamond and Aimee Drives was Michael Loenser , 28, Piscataway at 59:30 (59 minutes and 30 seconds). Second and third place, respectively went to Tim Morgan , 27, S. Plainfield 59:36 and Jeff Propet, 30, Wall Township, at 59:41. In talking with champion Loenser and runner-up Morgan at the finish-line area, they informed that there was a lot of back and forth for the lead with a pack of four for most of the race but Loesner “took the lead with about a mile to go” he said and Morgan in trying to catch him said, “that’s when I took second place by myself.” Both agreed that the course was scenic and the rolling hills made an interesting challenge and that the weather was “about perfect for running.”

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Jacqui Gordon, 38, Point Pleasant was the top female at 1:02:41 (6th place overall). Rounding out the top three of that distaff category were Malia Lyles, 26, of Neptune at 1:04:03 (10th overall) and Bronauryn Oleary, 35, Cliffwood Beach, at 1:04:38 (11th overall).

Coming in first of the 5K (3.1 miles), that used a shortened part of the main course, but included Eaglenest Road, was a hands-together group of three Marlboro High School students at 18:52: Elan Mortin, 18; Mitchell Biler, 17; B. Mazzarello, 16.

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The female winner was a couple: Katie Vicizio, 16, and Rachel Weinberger, 17, who were part of the dozen or so Marlboro High School track and cross-country students competing in the event and like the boys also came in first place together and their race time of 21:12 (12th and 13th overall), was a highly respectable 6:50 per-mile pace. Third place for the females went to Katie Kanka , 28, of Ewing at 22:30 (22nd overall).

Penny Hinck, 49, of Monmouth Beach finished the 5K at 36:41. Penny was satisfied with her time but admitted that she has not been racing in a while so she’s getting back into it. “The course is really beautiful because there are rolling hills and it takes us through farmland suburbia – the weather is near perfect, cool temperatures, you don’t have to worry about getting overheated,” were comments on the event, that she offered. Penny is director of the annual Saturday in the Park 5K raced in Holmdel Park  She is the wife of Phil Hinck that Shore area racers know from his helping out at numerous races and he directs, among others, two nationally-recognized events: The Spring Lake Five and the George Sheehan Classic and as he often says in interviews, complimentarily: “My wife, Penny, does most of the work.”

At the starting line at 9:30 a.m., located about a mile into the Park on the entrance road, Isabel Meldrum, race director, using a bullhorn thanked the 10-mile racers for coming and asked them to make sure they crossed over the metal plates (of the Chrono Tracking System provided by Elite Racing Systems) which would record their racing time. She then introduced Mackenzie Conner, 5th grade student of Beachwood Elementary, who sang our National Anthem. Meldrum then gave a three-command start and the racers were off, following the lead vehicle driven by Michael O’Flaherty, president of the FARC who followed lieutenant Dean Smith driver of the police car. Fifteen minutes later the 5K would start on the same entrance road but closer to the exit and Avram Shapiro would drive that lead vehicle along with a bicycle pedaled by John Weitz, former president of the club.

To the average human the activity of running belongs to the youth in life but it seems that's not so at this event, anyway.

Septuagenarians who did the 5K: Gordon Konscol, 71, of Woodbridge at 30:28;  Dolores Papirman, 73, of Whiting at 38:03;  Alfred Cinter, 75, of Freehold at 43:01.

Septuagenarians who did the 10-mile:  Amando Oliveira, 70, of Edison at 1:23:30;  Immune Dyson, 74, of Princeton at 1:30:53;  Cindy Clark, 71, of Hillsborough at 1:36:59;  Olie Nelson, 75, of Farmingdale at 1:38:34.

And alas! There is an octogenarian: Harry Papirman, 80, (husband of Dolores) at 1:39:00.

All received age-group awards. One could suspect that each of these active senior citizens believes wholeheartedly in the famous quote by Jackie Robinson of baseball's Hall of Fame: "Life is Not a Spectator Sport!"

Race director Isabel Meldrum, former president of both FARC and SAC and active race walker, presented Ceramic Shamrocks to the aforementioned winners and age-group leaders at the basketball court of the Park, which served as the staging area.

A great picnic was provided: hot soup, hot dogs, bagels, fruit and soft drinks. This race has been voted as of the best food races in New Jersey.

"I'm very excited about the excellent turnout, 687 runners/racewalkers, and want to thank all the competitors for their support. It was just a perfect day and great running weather.   I want to acknowledge also the know-how cooperation we get from the volunteers (195 total) of the area clubs (FARC, Jersey Shore Running Club and Shore Athletic Club).  Compliments, too, to the chair people of the organizing committee who did an outstanding job of course management, food preparation and distribution for the athletes. I want to thank Donna Cetrulo, Linda Hyer, Mike O’Flaherty, Cathy O’Flaherty, Rich Edwards, Fran Kugelmas, Dave Friedman, Frank Haviland, Tom Wendel, Marcia and Avram Shapiro, Manny and Roberta Eisner, Ed Wendel,  Fred and Anna Torres of Elite Racing Systems for all their help. I also want to recognize our sponsor: Nestles Beverage Company in Freehold. A special thank you to the Freehold Township Recreations and the staff at Tighe Park who coordinate opening and staffing the park for us. This was the 22nd year of the St Paddy’s 10 Miler and it has its roots in Freehold. This race keeps on growing and my philosophy is that when you put on a quality event the runners will come out and support it. I want to pay gratitude to you one and all. We hope to see you on Sunday March 18, 2012. Our website is http://www.farcnj.com/ “said director Meldrum in an E-mail overview. . .

Meldrum has served the running/race walking community by being president of both the Shore Athletic Club as well as the Freehold Area Running Club. She recalls and is proud of race walking a 100K (100 kilometers) out in Xenia, Ohio at the USATF National 100 Mile/100K Championship over a decade ago in which she earned an award and that distance for many who are unfamiliar with the metric system is 62 miles!

Other early and pre-registered leading finishers of the 10-mile distance:

Freehold:  Brian Burlew 1:13:24,  Bruce McCulloch 1:13:59,  Gabby Barrett 1:15:08,  Edward Mahalick 1:15:25,  Eric Caro 1:16:22,  Alexandra Caro 1:17:17,  Brian Martin 1:19:34,  Chris Parr 1:21:02,  Tara Moore 1:23:19,  Maria Borchardt 1:24:00,  Todd Moore 1:25:24,  Eric Sinatra 1:25:38,  Carl Danziger 1:25:46,  Alan Riccardi 1:26:43,  Brando Elimanco 1:26:45,  Christine Weber 1:27:38,  John Drudy 1:27:44;  Elizabeth Walker 1:31:20;  Paula Borchardt 1:31:23;  Kevin Roche 1:32:56;  Julie Hall 1:33:13;  Tara Stauffer 1:34:26;  Jennifer Barnes 1:34:47;  Sandra Etlinger 1:35:44;  Dick Heuser 1:36:38;  Kerriann Weinberger 1:37:06;  Denise Zolnowski 1:37:07;  Joseph Ulty 1:37:08.

Herald area:  Richard A. Brugger Jr. 1:09:27, Atl. Highlands;  Nicholas Negro 1:11:29, Keansburg;  Lisa Glavan 1:15:06, Highlands;  Geoff Nishira 1:16:50, Red Bank;  Jaclynn Merlette 1:18:58 and Cathy Capozzi 1:22:11, Middletown;  Bill Burke 1:22:29, Atl. Highlands;  Caren McCormack 1:24:40, Little Silver;  Liz Bovitz 1:29:09, Fair Haven;  Pam Allen 1:30:27, Red Bank;  Carolyn Van Schaack 1:30:43, Middletown;  Lauren Byron 1:31:02, Sea Bright;  Martin Dugan 1:33:40, Middletown;  Jimmy Kelly 1:36:11, Red Bank;  Jeanne Lauro 1:44:51, Little Silver;  Cerrone Dayo 1:45:40 and Agnes MacAsadia-Dayo 1:45:40, Red Bank;  Laura Young 1:45:52, Sandy Burke 1:45:52 and Kate Kelly 1:45:52, Red Bank.

Other Monmouth County leaders:  Luciano Deoliveira 1:00:21, Long Branch;  Malia Lyles 1:04:03, Neptune;  Dave Gilbert 1:05:59, Tinton Falls;  Charles Rogers 1:06:41, Wall;  Jim Redeker 1:07:36, Lake Como;  Lisa Namath 1:07:40, Wall;  Don Griffin 1:08:14, Belmar;  Chester Deoliveira 1:09:06, West Long Branch;  Ann O’Dowd 1:09:22, Colts Neck;  Jason Martin 1:11:01, Wall;  Mike Washakowski 1:18:14, Ocean;  Brian Gaughan 1:18:41, Englishtown;  Jeff Ragle 1:19:45, Ocean;  Michael Monahan 1:19:50, Wall;  Michael Lysak 1:20:02, Aberdeen;  Elizabeth Spector 1:20:09, Manalapan;  Jim Maloney 1:20:32, Shrewsbury;  Joe Anderson 1:21:47, Wall;  David B. Matthew 1:21:59, Tinton Falls;  Michael Shilling 1:23:36, Farmingdale;  Gilbert Santos 1:24:04, Long Branch;  Andy Stevenson 1:24:59, Manalapan;  Thomas Dayback 1:25:06, Tinton Falls;  Andrew Katznelson 1:25:33, Manalapan;  Brian Borden 1:25:58, Neptune;  Wendy McKnight 1:26:09, Wall;  James Bergum 1:26:11, Howell (webmaster FARC);  Jennifer Jones 1:26:54, Aberdeen.

Other early and pre-registered leading finishers of the 5K (3.1 miles) distance:

Freehold:  Scott Main 24:12,  Peter Borchardt 24:40,  Jackie Hall 25:20,  Amy Sloane 27:25,  Rosy Weiner 27:51,  Andrew Borchardt 28:01,  Ron Podel 28:09,  Zoey Sloane 28:12,  Karen Gaffey 28:38,  A. Bruce O’Connor 28:40,  Rhoda Gordon 28:51,  Julie Tajfil 28:52,  Eileen Allen 29:25,  Miah Kim 29:50,  Lucinda Monica 30:20,  Kimberly Dudas 30:34,  Kevin O’Malley 32:19,  Joe Haney 33:04,  Justin Gordon 33:19,  Jared Tajfil 33:20,  Kimberly O’Malley 35:16,  Donna Tepedino 38:20.

Herald area:  Jason Somers 24:32, Highlands;  Melissa Timm 26:11 and Sarah Black 27:16, Atl. Highlands;  Ashley Emmons 29:27, Rumson;  James Brantley 32:34, Middletown;  Penny Hinck 36:41, Monmouth Beach;  Catherine Brantley 40:48, Middletown;  Kathy Misciagna 42:50, Red Bank.

Other Monmouth County:  Michael Chiera 21:49, Devon Miller 21:54 and Will Alim 22:09, Howell;  Jack Loennecker 22:11 and Doreen page 25:23, Manalapan;  Stephen Harnett Jr. 25:55 and Stephen Harnett Sr. 25:56, Hazlet;  Eric Madia 26:05, Manalapan;  Matthew Somodi 26:05 and Ron Ackerman 26:07, Howell;  Debbie O’Connor 26:11, Lincroft;  Steven Feldman 26:30, Nicole Stallone 26:56 and Paulette Stallone 26:57, Manalapan;  Allison Krilla 27:19, lake Como;  Jim Stewart 27:20, Marlboro;  Eileen Yard 27:22, Keyport;  Katie Farrington 28:32, Farmingdale;  Denyse Galasso 28:39, Matawan;  Lindsay Chiera 29:12, Howell;  Bob Nassi 29:17, Marlboro;  Janice Krilla 29:30, Tinton Falls;  Amy Marino 29:35, Howell;  Jim Jensen 29:38, Englishtown;  Donna Romeo 29:43, Spring Lake Heights.

Road-racing events continue on Saturday, March 26, at 9 a.m. with DeFeet Breast Cancer 5K Run/Walk at Lake Como, more info at 973-222-8748. Also on that date at 10 a.m. (kids’ races 9:30) is the Fisherman’s 5K in Point Pleasant Beach, more info at 732-899-7672. The following day, Sunday, March 27, has three events: the Care to Run 5K in Colts Neck at 10 a.m., info at 732-761-0190 x 1143; Asbury Park Half Marathon & Relay at 9 a.m., info at 732-578-1771; the 46th Annual Captain Ronald Zinn Memorial Races: 5K at 10 a.m. 10 K Racewalk at 11:30 a.m, at Wall Township Municipal Complex, info call 732-222-9080.