ASBURY PARK, NJ - More than 2200 road racers comprised of 450 teams made up mainly of five members each, some had fewer, and the seventeen single competitors of the Ironman/Ironwoman Category, that had just one racer, competed in the 16th annual Jersey Shore Relay Marathon from Seaside Heights to Asbury Park. The event, now entitled RunAPalooza which includes the Asbury Park Half Marathon, is organized by the Jersey Shore Running Club (JSRC) to benefit Special Olympics of New Jersey (SONJ) and was held with a foggy start on the morning of Saturday, April 21.
RunAPAlooza runners face a foggy start.
With staggered starting times, organized by SONJ director Jeri Hickey, beginning at 8 a.m. for the slower teams, thru 10:00 a.m., the Relay’s 26.2 mile (marathon distance), ocean-hugging, northbound course, that this year was treated to a southerly 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, and D'Jai's in Belmar, and finishes on the Asbury Park boardwalk next to Convention Hall which also serves as the award-presentation area and refreshment location.
Team "Who's Next" at 2:38:31 (2 hours, 38 minutes and 31 seconds) was the winning team, representing the Open Mixed category, a five-person team with Doug Twyman, Sea Girt, serving as team captain and running the 4th leg. Brian Prendergast of Brick, Ken Walsh of Point Pleasant and Christine Arsego, Point Pleasant, ran, respectively, the first three legs and Jack Miskin of Brielle served as anchor, running the fifth and final section.
Other Category winners with team names, team captain, town and racing time:
Open Men, Team Training Room, Michael Mulroy, Sea Girt, 2:43:15; School, Chaaalie's Angels, Charlie Butrico, South Plainfield, 2:46:29; Club, Another Round, James Bergum, Howell, 2:48:31; Family, Rapid Transit Running, Stephen Gambescia, Havertown, PA, 2:57:07; Open Women, ORC Blue Skirts #2, Erin Bies, Seaside Park, 2:57:14; Open Mixed, The Third Leg, Michael Gargiulo Brooklyn, NY, 2:59:00; Corporate, Pepsi Challenge, Robert Mcdonnell, Forked River, 3:02:12; Masters Men, Of Beaches, Bob Tona, Monmouth Junction, 3:08:00; Police, OCPO 1, Casey Long, Forked River, 3:12:25; Government, Air Power, Glebocki, Severna Park, MD, 3:12:52; Masters Mixed, Road To Nowhere, Tom Pinzino, Maplewood, 3:17:58; Iron Man, Charley Francis, Cambridge, MA, 3:20:27; Masters Women , ORC Blue Skirts #1, Paula Lychock, Toms River, 3:33:16; Iron Women, Alexa's Angel, Renee Kelly, Sewell, 3:33:40; and Fire, Brielle Fire Company, Mark Drent, Brielle, 3:37:03.
Recognition for Best Dressed Teams went to Dead Musicians, Defeat: Improbable and Love on the Run. Jersey Girls Staystrong Multisport, with 12 teams in the event, were recognized as the Most Spirited.
Best Dressed Team in Jersey Shore Relay is the “Dead Musicians”.
The sold-out Asbury Park Half Marathon started on the boardwalk about 1/8 mile south of Convention Hall at 8:30 a.m. Prior to the start, Phil Hinck, race starter, informed the competitors 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 Colleen Ciecura of Lakewood who gave a fine rendition of our National Anthem - her fellow members of the musical group Starlite Performers of Toms River would have been proud of her. Hinck then gave his usual loud “Ready, Set, Go” and the Half Marathon racers were off following the lead bicycles pedaled by Jeff Bierly of Fair Haven and Jeff Allen of Freehold.
Seven hundred and twenty-two (722) runners finished the 13.1 miles ocean-viewing, windy (SSW direction) challenge and Jeff Propert, 31, of Wall Township broke the finish-line tape, held by Rodney Foster and Domingo Perez, at a racing time of 1:16:32 (1 hour, 16 minutes and 32 seconds. He was followed by Philadelphia, PA’s, Justin Simard, 28, at 1:16:48 and third place, on this good-racing-weather morning went to Graham Marfield, 49, of Titusville at 1:19:45.
Jeff Propert of Wall wins Asbury Park Half Marathon in 1:16:32
“He (Propert) was just a little too far ahead to catch him,” said runner-up Simard when asked if he tried to close in on the champion who had chosen to run the three-loop course; Simard the one loop. “I love this course – I love running on the boardwalk, ” he further offered and said, “Definitely,” when asked if he would come back next year.
Maggie Gousman, 23, of Bradley Beach was today’s women’s champion at 1:30:29 (10th place overall). Coming in second and third, respectively, for the women, were Meagan Drapkin, 27, of Brick Township at 1:32:04 (13th overall) and Karen Eckberg, 27, of Philadelphia, PA, at 1:34:24 (14th overall).
Maggie Gousman of Bradley Beach is womens Half Marathon Champion in 1:30:29.
“I’m very pleased,” said Gousman “not only with the championship but that I beat last year’s time that I had been training to do.” Maggie finished third last year at 1:36:08. She has made much progress. “Absolutely!” the champion exclaimed when asked if she were looking forward to doing this next year.
Runner-up Drapkin likes this course: "I like running on the boardwalk because the boardwalk is flat," and she emphasized "flat!"
"I'm happy with my race time and am pleased to see many volunteers from the various running clubs volunteering their services for such a worthy cause, Special Olympics," said Matthew Shafer of Tinton Falls who finished at 1:38:49, a respectable 7:33 per mile pace. Shafer is looking forward to July 29 when he will be directing the CASA 5K at Joe Palaia Park in Ocean Township. CASA is Court Appointed Special Advocates who are volunteers trained to be advocates for children who have been abused and neglected. Shafer has many slogans on display at the Park during his event, including Children Should Be Seen And Heard.
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 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 and Ocean Township's Dave DeMonico on the trumpet.
The leading teams of the Relay were presented with commemorative gold batons for each member and the Half Marathon leaders were awarded RunAPalooza shirts by Karen Charles of Wall Township, Jane Decker of Brick, and Barbara Ehlen of Allenhurst, active members of the JSRC, on the stage of Convention Hall, while the wilted racers (including the volunteers) were enjoying refreshments at the hall of the Convention Center, organized by food chair Kathy Elliott. Event sponsor WaWa donated fruit, Pepsico was a contributor with water donations. 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 $100,000 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.” Heather Andersen, Senior Director of Corporate Development of Special Olympics of New Jersey (SONJ) verifies that message.
Herald area leading finishers of the Half Marathon: Adam Abbate 1:34:51, Belford; Bob Summers 1:35:39, Rumson; Dana Jacoby 1:39, Monmouh Beach; Dawn Ciccone 1:45:39, Highlands; Paul Deykerhoff 1:48:04, Little Silver; Kristen Perez 1:48:26, Middletown; George Pavlonnis 1:48:53, Leonardo; Wade Davis 1:49:37, Fair Haven; Margeau Soboti 1:50:57, Monmouth Beach; James Waterer 1:55:11, Red Bank; Cathy Capozzi 1:55:56, Middletown; Theresa Wolfe 1:56:39, Fair Haven; Mark Smith 1:56:56 and Ralph Rasa 1:58:50, Middletown; Stephen Szakats 1:59:40 and Patricia Szakats 2:00:12, Rumson; Robert Hahn 2:01:52, Red Bank; Rachel Lawrence 2:02:47, Oceanport; Greg Kimmet 2:05:22, Monmouth Beach; Caitlin Dinsmore 2:07:07, Sea Bright; Nikki Ippolito 2:07:35, Red Bank; Michael Hannigan 2:07:46, Middletown; Mark Giannullo 2:09:00, Red Bank; Mark Stodden 2:10:12, Rumson; Thomas Doremus 2:10:4; Harry Fessel 2:13:39, Middletown; Karyn Jarmer 2:14:43, Oceanport; Kim Pendolino 2:15:49, Red Bank.
Other leading Monmouth County finishers of the Half Marathon: Michael Jarmon 1:31:18, Howell; Patrick Applegate 1:31:20, Matawan; Luke Miller 1:35:08, Spring Lake; Edward Moran 1:35:34, Aberdeen; Robert Miller 1:36:23 and Kiersten Amberg 1:37:03, Spring lake; Ashley Hart 1:37:42, Belmar; Matthew Shafer 1:38:49, Tinton Falls; Patrick McIntyre 1:39:56, Bradley Beach; Jillian Reichardt 1:40:00, Oakhurst; Tara Gangi 1:40:07, Manalapan; Robin Campbell 1:40:50, Aberdeen; Richard Sanders 1:40:54, Spring Lake Heights; Kelli Cumiskey 1:41:04, Allenhurst; Gregory Young 1:41:24, Spring Lake Heights; Joseph Strempek 1:42:29, Spring Lake; Nicole Vaccarella 1:42:42, Colts Neck; Robert Jaeger 1:44:54, Marlboro; Zigmund Brzezinski 1:45:04, Spring Lake; Laura Agresta 1:45:12, Colts Neck; Kimberly Sayne 1:45:13, Wall; Daniel Kritch 1:45:20, Shark River Hills; Jennifer Haney 1:45:57, Freehold; Jennifer Gilfillan 1:46:54, Holmdel; Christina Benanti 1:47:01, Belmar.