ASBURY PARK, NJ - More than 2200 road racers comprised of 452 teams made up mainly of five members each, some had fewer, and the twelve single competitors of the Ironman/Ironwoman Category, that had just one racer, competed in the 14th annual Jersey Shore Relay from Seaside Heights to Asbury Park. The event, now entitled RunAPalooza which includes the Asbury Park Half Marathon and a 2-mile walk, is organized by the Jersey Shore Running Club (JSRC) to benefit Special Olympics of New Jersey (SONJ) and was held on an overcast east-northeast, gale-like, windy morning of Saturday, April 16.
With staggered starting times, organized by SONJ director Jeri Hickey, beginning at 8 a.m. for the slower teams, thru 9:40 a.m., the Relay’s 26.2 mile (marathon distance), ocean-hugging, northbound course, that this year was confronted with an east-northeast, gale-like wind, begins at the Aztec Hotel in Seaside Heights. It has five legs ranging from 6 plus to 3 plus miles each, goes through 16 Shore area towns, of which the racers pass off their colored (determined by starting times) batons at Brick Beach, Point Pleasant Beach, Gee Gee’s in Manasquan, the fishing pier in Belmar, and finishes on the Asbury Park boardwalk next to Convention Hall which also serves as the award-presentation area and refreshment location.
MTC at 2:13:42 (2 hours, 13 minutes and 42 seconds) was the winning team, representing the Open Men’s category, a two-person team with Victor Vientos running legs one and four and Sean Swift, Team Captain, running legs two, three and five, as their 3rd team member was not able to compete.
Other Category winners with team names and racing time:
Open (mixed), The E Street Runners 2:33:31; School, Princeton Running Club – A 2:35:17; Corporate, White Fleishner & Fino 2:41:13; Government, Coyote Red 2:46:51; Open (women), Crabby Patties 2:55:21; Masters (men), Who’s Next 2:57:17; Masters (mixed) Beauty & the Beasts 2:57:22; Family, Running Socks 3:00:39; Ironman, Dr. P. Buhne of Frankfurt, Germany 3:07:32; Police, Jersey City POBA 3:11:41; Masters (women) ORC Skirts 3:17:27; Club, DG 3:26:09; Ironwoman, Kristen Disoteo 3:34:56; and Fire, Brielle Fire Company 3:30:11.
The Asbury Park Half Marathon started on the boardwalk about ¼ mile south of Convention Hall at 8:30 a.m. Prior to the start, Phil Hinck reminded the racers of the unique course: all runners would proceed south on the boardwalk to Avon and there just before the Shark River bridge runners would have a choice of turning back for a three-loop course or continuing into Belmar, Spring Lake and Sea Girt to a turnaround, knowing that they could be delayed if the bridge were open to waterway travel.
Hinck then introduced Robert Martin, Howell, of WAWA corporation, a major sponsor, who thanked the racers for participating and wished them all to have a good race. That was followed by Angela Huenerfauth of Bradley Beach who sang a fine rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. Hinck then gave his usual loud “Ready, Set, Go” and the Half Marathon racers were off following the lead bicycle pedaled by Jeff Bierly of Fair Haven.
Six hundred and 27 runners finished the 13.1 miles ocean-viewing, windy challenge and Jonothan Castro, 24, of Toms River broke the finish-line tape at a racing time of 1:21:19 (1 hour, 21 minutes and 19 seconds. He was followed by Shillington, PA’s Gregory Linsky, 26, at 1:22:13 and third place went to Keith Lax, 27, of Hamilton at 1:25:25.
Karen Charles, 37, of Wall was today’s women’s champion of this 13.1 mile distance at 1:30:57. Coming in second and third place respectively for the women were Stacy Meitzler (last year’s champion of this event), 23, of Milan, PA at 1:33:59 and Maggie Gousman, 22, of Bradley Beach at 1:36:08.
An astute observer of the 627 runners would have seen 11 racers with pink shirts that had Run Like a Mother printed on it. One of the mothers was Liz Bovitz of Fair Haven who finished at 2:00:50 and that was good for 25th place of 74 in her 30-34 age group. Running isn’t all this group does as you can see when checking out its website: www.mommy-moves.com.
Most of the competitors agreed that wind was a factor today and “brutal” was the favorite adjective with one saying “ferociously brutal.” But the Half Marathoners did have the wind with them half the way whereas the Relay competitors had the headwind the entire 26.2 miles.
The event included a 2-mile out-and-back Walk for Special Olympics that began at the boardwalk outside of Convention Hall, organized by Lawrenceville’s Heather Andersen, Senior Director of Corporate Development of Special Olympics of New Jersey (SONJ). Over 100 signed up for the walk.
Phil Hinck, along with associate and friend Fred Torres of Eliteracingsystems.com were busy with the sundry activities at the finish-line clock located immediately south of Convention Hall. Also assisting in that area were JSRC members: Marilyn Ryder, Long Branch and her sister Bonnie Santomenna, Shrewsbury, along with other JSRC volunteers, including Chick Albers of Hazlet on the bass drum.
The leading teams of the Relay were presented with commemorative gold batons and bags for each member and the Half Marathon leaders were awarded RunAPalooza sweatshirts by race director, Bob Both of Wall Township and Mike Procopio of Bradley Beach, both active members of the JSRC, on the stage of Convention Hall, while the approximately 3500 wilted racers (including the walkers and volunteers) were enjoying refreshments at the hall of the Convention Center, organized by food chair Kathy Elliott. Event sponsor WaWa donated fruit, Nestle was a contributor with water donations from its Poland Spring Division. Submarine sandwiches were donated by Jersey Mike’s, and LaYogurt provided yogurt and drinks.
“I am very pleased with the outcome and am hopeful that when all the pledges are collected we will raise more than $80,000 and that will be added to the other years we collected, for a total of over $500,000 to benefit Special Olympics . I want to thank the entire RunAPalooza committee made up of volunteers who donate their time and all the bands who played along the course and at Convention Hall. Also I appreciate the enthusiastic supporters in the towns along the course who welcomed and cheered the runners. It was terrific making this a true community event along the Jersey Shore of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Thank you to all the towns along the course who allowed us to run through their communities and their boardwalks and made every effort to make for a special day at the Jersey Shore for all the runners and spectators. I want, also, to recognize the many volunteers who assisted in the myriad activities necessary for conducting a racing event. The JSRC is proud to continue its support for Special Olympics,” said race-director Bob Both in an E-mail summary. Both also serves as the Webmaster of the award-winning website (www.jsrc.org) of the club.
The Special Olympics brochure informs: “For more than 40 years, Special Olympics New Jersey (SONJ) has been part of a worldwide program of sports training and athletic competition for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Recognized by the International Olympic Committee, SONJ promotes global athletic leadership and is dedicated to the movement of empowerment and dignity. Its goal is to change attitudes within communities about intellectual disabilities of some and to emphasize potential ability and acceptance.”
Leading Herald area finishers of the Half Marathon: Geoffrey Nicholas 1:37:06, Leonardo; Craig Kolb 1:42:05 (just 12 seconds slower than last year with the gusty wind), Fair Haven; John Denza 1:43:35, Atl. Highlands; Nicholas Pizzonia 1:43:45 and Tara Chancey 1:46:04; Wade Davis 1:46:46 and Theresa Krause 1:46:47, Fair Haven; Meghan Checton 1:47:02 and Tara Checton 1:49:02, Rumson; Mara Timourian 1:50:29, Middletown; Caren McCormack 1:52:08, Little Silver; Leslie McKernan 1:52:51, Atl. Highlands; Jen Vieth 1:52:53, Middletown; Dawn Ciccone 1:53:10, Highlands; Skaist Cohen 1:54:28, West Keansburg; Harry Fessel 1:55:34 and Diane Bullard 1:57:51, Middletown; Ray Burke 1:58:16, J.J. Waterer 1:58:19 and Kim Pendolino 1:58:26, Red Bank; Stephen Szakats 1:58:54 and Patricia Szakats 1:58:55; James Weemhofe 1:59:08, Red Bank; Greg Kimmet 1:59:40, Monmouth Beach; Gilian MacDonald 2:02:32, Rumson; Justin Durdack 2:03:59, Fair Haven.
Other leading Monmouth County finishers of the Half Marathon: Patrick Applegate 1:33:37, Matawan; Michael Procopio 1:41:59, Bradley Beach; Todd Julian 1:43:12, Holmdel; Tracy Kochian 1:43:59, Marlboro; Jennifer Haney 1:44:26, Freehold; John Wolfson 1:45:03, Ocean; Kiersten Amberg 1:45:14 and Edwin Hale 1:45:58, Spring Lake; Devon Blaney 1:46:39, Wall; Peg Kolbenschlag1:46:59, Howell; Christina Benanti 1:48:12, Belmar; Laura Szymczak 1:50:20, Tinton Falls; Kimberly Sane 1:50:40, Wall; Joseph Strempek 1:50:54, Spring Lake; Patrick McIntyre 1:51:33, Bradley Beach; Robert Peck 1:52:10, Howell; Jillian Reichardt 1:53:32 and Jenna Gaiatro 1:53:33, Oakhurst; Daniel Kritch 1:53:44, Wall; James Bykowski 1:54:11, Avon; Rosevelyn Medvigy 1:54:11, Keyport; Tracy Julian 1:54:18, Holmdel; Christian Hansen 1:54:23, Ocean.
Road racing continues with the Celtic Tribute 5K on April 23 at 11 a.m. at the Long Branch boardwalk/promenade, info call 732-571-2162. It’s the Colts Neck Trail Run on May 1 at Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft at 10 a.m., info call 732-747-1959 x 214.