SPRING LAKE, NJ - Weather sources reveal that there are three other towns in the United States with the designation of Spring Lake: Minnesota (population 335), Michigan (2,416), North Carolina (8,250) but the one here at the Atlantic Ocean in central Monmouth County, New Jersey (3,542) is the most significant on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend because it hosts, in cooperation with the Jersey Shore Running Club (JSRC), according to race director Phil Hinck, the largest road-race in the state and the largest five-mile road-race in the nation. 

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Photos by Bob Both, Jersey Shore Running Club - jsrc.org

Eight thousand and 163 racers (4, 276 males – 3887 females, 10,000 registered) was the large number that finished this year in this 35th annual Spring Lake Five Mile Run on a warm, eventually clear, good-racing-weather morning of May 28. The runners/walkers competed on a basically rectangular course that began on Ocean and Warren Avenues proceeded north to and around Lake Como, passed the imposing edifice of Saint Catharine’s Roman Catholic Church, continued to the Sea Girt border and back onto Ocean Avenue to face about a thousand meter straightaway to the finish at Atlantic Avenue where Laurie Bessemer of Bick Twp. and Kaitlin Marsicano of Wall, recent graduates of Saint Rose High School, held the finish-line tape.

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Michael Rolek, 24, of Maplewood was the overall leader to break the tape at 25:10 (25 minutes and ten seconds). “No, we were in a group of three or four and were trading the lead for about the first three miles,” said Rolek when asked if he were out in front the entire way. “When we made the turn onto Ocean Avenue is when I went out in front and stayed there,” he further added in describing his championship performance. Rolex thinks the course “is beautiful, it’s pretty fast and the cheering fans are everywhere!” He answered immediately with the word “perfect” when questioned about the weather.

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Toms River’s Noel (Brock) Whitall, 33, for the 7th consecutive time was today’s female winner at 28:15 and this was just one second slower than her last year’s racing time. “I wasn’t really sure but then I heard some of the cheering fans yelling ‘here’s the first girl’ then I knew I was out in front,” Whitall, a third grade teacher at Osborneville Elementary in Bricktown, responded. “At the 2008 George Sheehan Classic, I ran my fastest 5-mile race at 27:37,” she said.
 
“I kept my eye on her (Whitall/Brock) at first but I know she is an elite runner so I knew I couldn’t catch her,” said Taryn Landers, a Monmouth University coach, in describing her runner-up performance.
 
Rounding out the top ten finishers (male-female) who received crystal awards, added to the roses received by the first 500 women and medals to everyone:
 
Men: Dave Slavinski 25:15, Point Pleasant (one second faster than last year; Robert Cavanaugh 25:20, West Long Branch; Craig Segal 25:49, Highlands (champion the last three years); Timothy Mulligan 25:56, Whiting; Mark Lee 26:45, Lincroft; Brian Basili 27:51, South Orange; Sean Rath 27:53, Lincroft; Mike Alken 28:06, Mount Pleasant; Patrick D’Alessandro 28:10, Asbury Park.
 
Women: Taryn Landers 30:07, Belmar; Dactilia Booth 30:11, Long Branch; Marissa Alberti 30:29, Monmouth Beach; Diane DeOliveira 31:24, Brick; Karen Charles 31:40, Wall; Lindsay Kos 31:58, New York City; Amber Hart 32:05, Belmar; Jessica Barr 32:08, Cranford; Nicole Strand 32:40, Robbinsville.
 
Neptune City’s Vietnam veteran Joe Renzella, 69, member of the JSRC, finished today at 50:01(slow for him) but he was satisfied knowing that because of such a huge crowd, “You’re just not going to make good time - the first mile or so you just have to shuffle along with the crowd until you can get into the clear where you can run your own pace, and that isn’t until you’re well into the second mile, beyond the lake. But I was happy to be running as a member of Team Freedom, that I joined four years ago,” he said. Team Freedom is a veteran’s organization dedicated to reminding us of the true meaning of Memorial Day which is to remember those who have died in our nation’s service. The 147 veterans of Team Freedom who ran today are sure to be proud of having Renzella in their midst. He is a highly decorated Vietnam veteran with numerous military awards including four Bronze Stars, two with Valor, and a Purple Heart. He was a member of the First Infantry Division, historically known as Big Red 1, and when his first tour of duty was over he volunteered for two more tours because he felt that his experience would benefit his fellow soldiers. On the back of Team Freedom’s racing shirt is printed: Their Courage Is Our Strength.
 
“After running probably hundreds of races over about 25 years this is the first time I ever walked one,” said Long Branch’s Marilyn Ryder, mother-in-law and mother of Phil (race director) and Penny Hinck. Ryder is a member of the Shore Athletic Club (SAC), Freehold Area Running Club (FARC), Ocean Running Club (ORC) and very active in the JSRC and is recuperating from foot surgery she had in February and that’s the reason for walking instead of running. “I could look around and see things that I never see while running because my attention has to be on where my feet are going so I don’t fall. So this new experience is just delightful,” Ryder further offered. Ryder’s racing time was 1:20:56 which was better than 374 other male/female finishers, so there!
 
Highlands Dawn Ciccone, 55, finished at 38:49 and was pleased with that performance. She offered these comments: “The course is beautiful, it’s scenic, crowds all over cheering us on with music playing the whole way and it’s a wonderful way to start the summer”
 
Dolores Papirman, 74, of Whiting finished at 1:04:24. “I’m disappointed in my performance, but I love this race, I love the people, I love the volunteers, I love the camaraderie!” she exclaimed to go along with her disappointment.
 
Walter McGowan, 63, Spring Lake, president of the SAL, scored a 48:42 and had this to say: “This 35th is probably the best ever for this race because of the great weather and huge crowd” and noted that the wind was at the runner’s back as they ran next to the ocean and inland when facing the wind. He also said humorously that his racing time was 20 minutes off his PR (personal record).
 
Women’s record holder Alicia Kelly, not competing this year, was in charge of the volunteers and organized the different service groups to do the myriad activities necessary. Veteran members of the Freehold Area Running Club: Isabel Meldrum, Tom Wendel, Ed Wendel, Linda Hyer, president Mike O’Flaherty and his wife, Kathy, along with Donna Cetrulo of the Shore Athletic Club and other running club members supervised the volunteers, made up of Girl and Boy Scouts and school groups, servicing the four water spots at the mile markers. Margaret O’Brien of Dublin Ireland, sister of Meldrum, also helped.
 
At the starting line was a large banner of the event’s name strung along the aerial ladder (extends 100 feet) of the Spring Lake Fire Company #1 which also served as the vantage point from which photographer Bob Both, webmaster of the (JSRC) website, is able to take his panoramic pictures of the thousands of assembled racers.
 
The 8:30 a.m. start was preceded by a fine rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner by Amy Carr Skalecki of the Spring Lake Memorial Community House and the lead vehicle was driven by Gary Ciliberto, husband of Spring Lake Mayor Jennifer Naughton.
 
“Nothing major happened,”said Margie Brahn and Cindy Lustrino, members of the Spring Lake First Aid Department, when asked to comment on emergency activities. They further informed that there were 55 members of first-aid squads and 13 vehicles available for medical service including some from neighboring towns. The trailer for Mon-Oc Emergeny Services from Jersey Shore Medical Center was also on hand.
 
This annual event includes the Spring Lake Five Kids’ Races presented the night before, starting at 6 p.m., also on Ocean Avenue at Atlantic Avenue, two blocks south of the Essex and Sussex Condominium, with some costume characters provided by Kids Kollection, featuring Bubbles the Clown, to greet them and pose for picture taking. Patty Burrus of Spring Lake, trustee of Friends of the SL5, organized the activity that consists of a series of races of 25 yards for the 2-year-olds to a half-mile for the 14-year-olds. One thousand and 680 children participated with many having parents and grandparents and siblings and friends to cheer them on and take lots and lots and lots of pictures. Each participant received medals.
 
Early-morning volunteers were busy at setting up the two hundred and forty-four 3’ x 9’ tables, provided by Party Corner of Shrewsbury, that were needed for all of the 7,200 bagels, the 7,904 bananas, the 14,400 bottles of water, the 7200 Tetra Paks of O.N.E. Coconut Water, 100 cases of soda (2400 cans), 3000 bottles of sports drink, 1,800 bottles of Honest Tea, above drinks iced with 160 bags of ice (each 40 pounds). Also there were 46, 656 chocolate-fudge cookies, 7,500 Jersey Mike half-subs, 87,500 cups used at water stops. Those edibles and drink amounts were compiled by Linda Horowitz, food chairperson of Neptune and Jim Rich, now of Orlando, FL, also JSRC member, would be responsible for distributing. These yawning volunteers, who were too early to see the 5:29 a.m. sunrise but were treated to breakfast goodies on the steps of the Essex and Sussex Condominium Association by the Association’s The Spring Lake Five Welcoming Committee.
 
“The Spring Lake Five Mile Run is organized by the Spring Lake Race Committee under the guidance of the Friends of the Spring Lake 5 Inc., a not-for-profit organization. After payment of race expenses, which comes only from the runners entry fees as there are no major sponsors for this race, all proceeds are donated to charitable organizations or allocated for town projects. Since 2002 the race has raised over $525,000; we expect to raise over $80,000 this year. In addition, our charity partners hope to have raised over $50,000 from runners’ donations and pledge collections. Many thanks to the Spring Lake police, public works and fire departments and area First Aid Squads for their cooperation and for the many volunteers from the local service organizations and the area running clubs (JSRC, FARC, SAC) for their know-how efforts. Former president of JSRC, Bill Koch, headed up the Security Team of JSRC members that assisted police in keeping order. Elite Racing Systems organized the Chronotrack (B-Tag) computer scoring system and Chris Tatreau Consulting Ltd. of Philadelphia did the finish-line logistics. Main Street Productions and Synergy Sounds provided the speaker system as well as motivational music for the racers. The committee appreciates the patience of area motorists who had to be detoured for the safety of our racers. This years event was the 35th anniversary and in addition to the shirt, calendar and glass that all registrants receive every year, they also receive a commemorative anniversary hat. A very special thanks to my wife, Penny, who is the very heart of racing at the Jersey Shore,” wrote Phil Hinck, race director, in a summarizing E-mail.
 
Herald Area leading women finishers of the scenic Spring Lake race: Marissa Alberti 30:29, Monmouth Beach; Dawn Wilcox 33:48, Little Silver; Lisa Zino 34:21, Middletown; Sara Amitrani 35:19, Red Bank; Jen Huesman 35:28, Fair Haven; Corinne Afanasewicz 35:38, Leonardo; Mary Pat Moriarty 37:16, Rumson; Dalia Viggiano 37:17, Little Silver; Jenn Crow 38:21, Rumson; Emily Dooley 38:23, Atl. Highlands; Tara Chaney 38:34, Red Bank; Kristine Toland 39:12, Middletown; Jennifer Olszewski 40:04, Red Bank; Theresa Wolfe 40:23, Fair Haven; Melissa Venditti 40:33, Atl. Highlands.
 
Herald Area leading men: Craig Segal 25:49, Highlands (former champion); Kenneth Shatzer 29:53, Middletown; Bill Chaney 31:31, Red Bank; Joseph Bieret 32:33, Middletown; Henry Mercer 32:56, Locust; Geoffrey Nicholas 32:57, Leonardo; Timothy Avers 33:25, Atl. Highlands; Harold Nolan 33:46, Navesink; Patrick Hill 33:47, Rumson; Sean Leonard 33:53, Red Bank; David Richards 33:56 and Michael Metlitz 33:57, Little Silver.
 
Road racing events continue in Avon on June 4 with the 16th Annual Avon 5K Run/Walk at 8:30 a.m. on Ocean Avenue, info: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. On June 11 at the Wanamassa Elementary School on Bendermere Avenue in Ocean Township is the Pre-Father’s Day 5K at 9 a.m., info call 732-542-6090 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. It’s the Pine Beach 5K at Vista Park on June 26 at 9 a.m., info call 732-267-1360 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..