BELMAR, NJ - With the weatherman's offering of a sunny/cloudy sky and 80 plus degrees temperature, 2245 road racers (1225 males, 1020 females) competed in the 35th anniversary of the picturesque Belmar Five Johnny Cobb Memorial Run on the hot and humid-racing-weather morning of July 9. The event is presented by the Goodwill Hose Company of the Belmar Fire Department in cooperation with the borough of Belmar and the Jersey Shore Running Club (JSRC).    

Prior to the 8:30 a.m. start, Phil Hinck, race director, asked the assembled, ready-to-go racers to join Jeff Nielsen of Brielle in singing our National Anthem. Choirmasters, of course, would not have been impressed but surely would have understood the sincere effort. Hinck then sounded the starting horn and the racers dashed from their Second and Ocean Avenue starting line, just beyond the Shark River Bridge and followed the lead vehicle driven by Harry Harsin of the Belmar Beach Patrol. They proceeded south on Ocean Avenue to and around Lake Como, returned to Ocean Avenue then northward and turned left on 6th Avenue (about the 3 ½ mile mark), meandered through streets adjacent to residences around Silver Lake and finished at the digital clock, set up by Eliteracingsystems.com of Clifton, along with the other finish-line equipment, on Fifth and Ocean Avenues.

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James Gathoga repeats as male champion in a time of 25:26 - photo credits: Bob Both, Jersey Shore Running Club

James Gathoga, 32, Newark, was first to cross the finish line and receive a medal, that all finishers would receive, at a racing time of 25:26 (25 minutes and 26 seconds). Gathoga won this event last year also and raced a bit faster at 24:40. Robert Cavanaugh, 33, West Long Branch was second at 25:44 followed by Tim Mulligan, 30, Whiting at 25:46, Craig Segal, 27, Highlands at 25:56 and Matthew Forys, 25, New York City at 26:14.

“The first 1 and ¾ miles we (Gathoga, Cavanaugh and Segal) were together in a pack and then he (Gathoga) went out in front – then at the 4th mile Tim (Mulligan) came up and then I kicked it in on him,” said Cavanaugh in describing his runner-up performance. Cavanaugh was satisfied with his time and of the weather he said, “It was hot out there.”

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Noel Whitall wins again for the women in 28:38.

Noel Whitall, 34, of Toms River was the women’s winner at 28:38 (two seconds slower than last year’s championship time) and she too got a medal but also a carnation that all women would get. Second-place woman was Rose Mascoli, 20, of Lebanon at 29:35 followed by Amanda Marino, 21, of Jackson at 29:45, Erin Lunny, 22, of Middletown at 29:56 and fifth woman was Jennifer Malavolta, 40, of Reeders, PA, at 30:18. The top five males and females receive special awards.

“I was happy – I went out in 5:25 (racing time for her first mile) and I felt good – as I got into the course the heat got to me but I didn’t let it bother me,” Whitall said in describing her championship performance. She further informed that she was the leading woman for the entire race.

Two wheelchair competitors began their race four minutes prior to the main starting time and followed the same scenic course. Chelsea Crytzer of Parsipanny finished at 19:08 and Michael John Harnett of Wall finished at 47:22.

Teams of four racers each also competed in 20 different categories and the racing time of each member was averaged in among all four finishers. The winning team’s name was Runner’s High. The team’s average was 26:29 made up of Robert Cavanaugh, Tim Mulligan, Craig Segal and Pat D’Allesandro.        

“ Jim, even though I’m retired from the State Police (NJ State Police), my life is busier than ever, so that affects my training but I love every minute of it – I ran well here in Belmar, I live here in Belmar and Belmar showed off today with great support and great weather,” said Tim Mahoney who finished at a very respectable 37:10. Mahoney, past president of JSRC, continues to serve the membership and all the running/racewalking community as the director of the annual 9/11 Memorial Run that is presented on that infamous date at 6 p.m. on the Belmar/Spring Lake boardwalk and he insists on all knowing that it’s not a race but a highly dignified leisurely run or jog so as to invite the general public. He informs that, “this year will be our tenth anniversary.” So remember the 9/11 Memorial Run. His parting comment: “I will never forget 9/11!”  

Aaron Levine, 31, Long Branch, of the Windmill Restaurant family famous for its hot dogs, finished at 41:32 and thinks that racing time is his PR (personal record or best time for this distance). “I love this race, it’s a lot of fun – it’s a good course but it’s always hot,” he offered when asked to comment. When Levine is not racing he spends time at the Monmouth University Fitness Center and Pool keeping fit to do not only road races but Ironman activities which involve running, biking and swimming.

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Start of 2011 Belmar 5 Race.

Four water spots were available at the mile-marker areas organized by Tom Morrison, past-president of the JSRC and Isabel Meldrum, past president of Freehold Area Running Club and Shore Athletic Club. They were serviced by volunteers from W.L.Gore Associates, the New Jersey Natural Gas, Boy Scouts and other local residents.

“We attended to several people, all heat related, one transported to the hospital, all the rest were treated and released,” said Rick Hines, former Captain of the Belmar First Aid when asked if there were any emergency problems.      

This race is part of the Jersey Shore Golden Grand Prix, a series of five races that offers prize money to overall winners and age-group category winners. The other events are: Spring Lake Five, George Sheehan Classic, Asbury Park 5K, and the Pier House 5K. Further information can be found on the series website: www.jsgrandprix.com.

This annual event usually begins on Friday evening at the Silver Lake Park across from Taylor Pavilion with a Fitness Walk for adults and a series of Kids Races. Torrential rain caused town officials to cancel the races, as well as the planned fireworks on the beach and movie in the Park..

Patty Hancock, former president of the Ocean Running Club and some of the club’s members were on hand to take care of the post registration of racers.

Race Director Phil Hinck, along with Bill Huntley of Colts Neck, awarded money, and Belmar Five beach towels to the aforementioned winners and age-group leaders at the Huisman Gazebo located in the park adjacent to Silver Lake and across from Taylor Pavilion that served as the award-presentation area. The Torres family of Eliteracingsystems.com, Clifton, was the professional organizer of the computer Chronotrack (B-Tag) results.

"With perfect summer-weather conditions, the 35th Anniversary Belmar Five will probably be one of the most memorable years to many of the runners. I want to thank all our volunteers, especially the race committee, and the members of the Jersey Shore Running Club, and other area running clubs for their know-how efforts. I want to recognize the continued support of the Borough of Belmar and its residents, and acknowledge the patience of motorists who were detoured for the safety of the racers. I would also like to thank Belmar Public Works, Recreation, Fire and First Aid Departments and the Police Departments of Belmar, Spring Lake and Lake Como. I want to offer a special appreciation to my wife, Penny. Thanks to the many participants this year and financial support of sponsors - the success of the race will allow it to present donations to the Goodwill Hose Co and other beneficiaries," said Phil Hinck, race director, and past president of the Jersey Shore Running Club in his final comments.

This event, has been in memory of long-time Belmar resident, Johnny Cobb, since 2002. In addition to being an originator of the race, he had a 25-year career in the Belmar Police Department and was also a member of the Belmar Fire Department. He was a graduate and supporter of the St. Rose school system and promoted local sports all of his life.

Other leading finishers of the scenic challenge:

   Belmar Men: Matt Lupino 30:34, Jack Morrissey 30:55, Dominick Petrosino 33:33, Matt Doherty 34:37, Don Gatton 34:50, Mark Monahan 36:30, Michael Oconnell 36:38, Edward Windas 37:01, Jon Lisko 37:04, Tim Mahoney 37:10, Jack Bleach 37:23, Kory Hardmeyer 38:06

   Belmar Women: Mackenzie Gammons 36:23, Christina Benanti 38:49, Holly McGill 39:43, Jacqueline Mulcahy 41:09, Marilyn Garquyki 41:28, Courtney Maloney 42:12, Debra Edelman 43:42, Dawn Lisko 43:58, Barbara Christianson 44:50, Whitney Barnes 45:36, Joy Desanctis 46:10, Eric Coviello 46:56, Diana Georgeou 47:04, Erin McCabe 47:37, Stacey Ferrara 47:43, Kathryn Grana 47:54, Pamela Bernth 47:59.

   Herald Area Men: Paul Juelis 32:32 and Brian Hill 33:08, Middletown; Michael Metlitz 33:36, Little Silver; Dana Jacoby 35:49, Monmouth Beach; Richard Brugger Jr. 36:02, Atl. Highlands; Rich Sciria 36:18, Red Bank; John Floyd 36:45, Rumson; Nils Engel 37:14, Highlands; Peter Lyden 37:20, Rumson; Jerry Robinson 37:52, Middletown; Bob Linton 38:12, Highlands; Fred Cichorz 39:21, Keansburg; Jason Pawling 39:32, Middletown; Wade Davis 39:38, Fair Haven; John Stahl 40:02, Middletown; Richard Gottuso 40:06, Fair Haven; Peter Losowvi 40:07, Sea Bright; George Roberts 40:16, Highlands.

   Herald Area Women: True Fahys 32:02, Middletown; Jessica Cini 33:51, Fair Haven; Sara Amitrani 34:16, Red Bank; Bridget Dowd 36:19, Fair Haven; Patricia Misciagna 36:44, Red Bank; Dawn Ciccone 37:23, Highlands; Tara Martinho 39:18, Middletown; Theresa Wolfe 39:39 Fair Haven; Kathleen Rapisarda 39:59, Red Bank; Kathryn Maloney 40:11, Fair Haven; Hannah Doherty 40:32, Little Silver; Lauren Giannullo 41:36, Red Bank; Christen Ambrosio 41:59, Port Monmouth; Lisa Swayze 42:07, Red Bank; Carrol Irwin 42:08, Rumson; Pam Allen 42:16, Red Bank; Carol DeFazio 42:37, Little Silver; Courtney Kling 42:51, Middletown.

   Other Monmouth County Men: Patrick Casterline 27:57, Bradley Beach; Pat D’Alessandro 28:29, Asbury Park; Pete Forgach 28:31, Long Branch; Pat Ford 29:18, Neptune City ( 51 years young, under a 6-minute mile, wow!); Mike Rose 30:13 Ocean Grove; Daniel Polanco 30:19, Hazlet; Charles Rogers 31:11 and Rich Kennh 31:27, Wall; Billy Joyce 31:52, Howell; Daniel Lenahan 32:08, Wall; Doug Twyman 32:18, Sea Girt; Robert Devine 32:27, Oceanport.

   Other Monmouth County Women: Marissa Alberti 30:31 and Dactilia Booth 31:30, Long Branch; Amanda Tripodi 33:28, Marlboro; Christine Altland 33:38, Hazlet; Lisa Namath 33:43, Wall; Megan Tursi 33:54, Eatontown; Lianne Price 34:02, Freehold; Kathy Kropke 34:10, Avon; Christy Defilippis 34:28, Tinton Falls; Ann O’Dowd 34:54, Colts Neck; Christine Gaeta 35:16, Lincroft; Robin Campbell 36:05, Aberdeen; Sandra Burstyn 36:12, Manalapan; Grace Nielsen 36:13, Brielle.  

Organized racing continues with the Neptune City Day 5K on August 6 at 8 a.m., info call 732-774-0089.