Twelve hundred and 96 (1296) road racers competed in the annual George Sheehan Classic 5K (previously a five-mile race) on a course that starts and finishes on Broad Street in Red Bank, continues onto Red Bank’s Bergen, Silverton, Prospect Streets then onto Harding Road where the racers are confronted with challenging Tower Hill, on the sunny, windless, warm, great-running-weather morning of June 16. Each would receive a wrist band bearing the name Arete (Greek name meaning “excellence of any kind.”). This Classic was named one of the Top 100 Road Races by Runner’s World magazine and the Best Memorial in New Jersey by the New York Times.

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Start of 2012 George Sheehan Classic five kilometer race. PHOTOS Bob Both, jsrc.org

Coming in first and breaking the finish-line tape held by Leslie McKernan, Atl. Highlands, member of the Jersey Shore Running Club (JSRC) and Rumson’s Iwona Howley, was Jonathan Phillips, 28, of Brooklyn, NY, at a racing time of 15:24 (15 minutes and 24 seconds). Rounding out the top five male finishers who would, along with the females, receive special awards were Tim Mulligan, 31, Whiting at 15:34; James Gathoga, 34, Newark at 15:48; Robert Cavanaugh, 34, West Long Branch at 15:56; Matt Dahl, 24, Keansburg at 16:47.

“No, I was running with the third place guy (Gathoga) for awhile,” said Phillips when asked if he were out front the whole way. “It was near the two-mile mark that I gave it an extra push and took the lead,” he further offered in describing his championship performance. He also said that he was glad the new course continued to include Tower Hill and of the weather he said, “It’s beautiful, sunny and cool.”

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Jonathan Phillips crosses the finish first, in 15:24.

Runner-up Mulligan never had the lead and informed that, “I didn’t take second until we had a half-mile to go,” He had this to say regarding the new distance, “I personally like the 5K distance but a lot of my friends would prefer the five-miles.” He further informed that he was glad that the challenging Tower Hill was still part of the Sheehan Classic.

Union City’s Maria Pavkovitch, 28, was the female winner with an 18:19 (17th place overall) racing time. Rounding out the top five female finishers: Tina Morrison, 27, Philadelphia, PA, at 18:27 (20 overall); Jessica Francis, 31, Red Bank at 18:32 (21 overall); Caitlin Dorgan, 23, Red Bank at 18:34 (22 overall); Dactilia Booth, 36, Long Branch at 18:41 (24 overall).

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  • Maria Pavkovitch, at 18:19 is the first woman to finish. 

“I was running with the first group a good part of the way and it was just after Tower Hill that I took the lead and kept it,” said Pavkovitch. She further informed that she was glad to drive the distance from Union City, “Because I wanted to be a part of the Sheehan Classic heritage that I’ve heard so much about.”

Gabby Barrett of Freehold finished at 22:53, a respectable 7:22 per-mile pace and when asked her thoughts on the new distance she chuckled through her comment: “They should have taken out Tower Hill.” But she was glad to be involved in this traditional race and found it to be well organized.

Ocean Township’s Bob Hayes, 61, finished at 43:40 and commented, “I’m glad they (race committee) included the defining element of this event: Tower Hill.”

“People should come out and run this, it’s not a hard run, even with the hill (Tower Hill). Before today we had to run four miles and we still had the hill but now it’s only two miles before we have the hill, so it’s much easier,” said Harry Papirman, 81, of Whiting who finished at 29:54, a 9:38 pace.

“If you asked me that question (which do you prefer: the 5K or 5-mile?) ten years ago, I’d have said the five miler but at my age now, I’m glad it’s a 5K,” said Olie Nelson, 76, of Farmingdale who posted a 28:27. He further added that he wished Tower Hill was not part of the course, “I like ‘flat’ and Tower Hill is not flat!” Others in that Male 75-79 age group: Richard Hill, 75 at 25:33, Rumson; Elliott Denman, 76, at 43:14, West Long Branch; Alan Sherman , 75, at 46:51, West Long Branch. It seems that the Running/Racewalking World doesn't know about aging!

Members and officers of Freehold Area Running Club were the many workers doing their know-how duties at the finish-line area, along with many members of the girls’ cross country team of Middletown High School South, supervised by coach Bill Clifton.

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  • All are “winners” at Sheehan Kid’s Classic.

This event also includes The Kids’ Classics: races for 4-year-olds to 13, consisting of distances of 50 yards to a half mile and are presented the night before at Marine Park. The kids were treated to cupcakes, smoothies and balloons, and each received a medal.

At the starting line across from Red Bank Catholic High School and Saint James Church, director Phil Hinck, making use of the loud speaker system provided by Main Street Productions, cautioned the assembled racers that because of the heat, they should make use of the water stations along the course. Our National Anthem was a group sing by the racers led by Michael Sheehan. Choirmasters might not have been impressed, but the effort was sincere.

Michael Sheehan, one of the many offspring of Doctor George Sheehan who was family spokesman, was introduced and here are some of his remarks: “Welcome everybody to a beautiful Father’s Day weekend here in Red Bank and to the 19th running of the George Sheehan Classic. I want to thank Phil and Penny Hinck, (race director and wife) the race committee, the volunteers and the sponsors and I especially want to thank all of you for coming out to challenge yourselves and this new course (applause). This has been a special year for running and I want to recognize the Rumson-Fair Haven High School’s girls’ cross-country team coached by Tim McLoone and Henry Mercer for winning the Meet of Champions and becoming the best in the state of New Jersey; and the boys at CBA (Christian Brothers Academy) for winning the NIKE National Meet and being the number one team in the country (applause). As some may know my father was one of the founders of CBA which caused him to return to running in his mid 40’s. Five years later he set a new age-group world record by being the first man over fifty years of age to break the five-minute mile (applause). My father would talk of how the ancient Greeks, in order to discover the self, needed to perfect the body as well as the mind and spirit. So hopefully we will catch that glimpse of perfection today and when we finish the race, doing our best, we will all be one step closer to Arete – Have a great race (much applause).” – Hinck then gave his usual loud Ready, Set, Go and the racers were off following the lead vehicle driven by Captain Darren McConnell of the Red Bank police force.

"A beautiful day with moderate temperatures greeted the runners over the new 5k course which still included the challenging Tower Hill. The committee had hoped that the change to the 5 kilometer distance would bring in more family members and we are happy to say this proved true, not only in participation but also in the  number of volunteers and spectators who came out to support their family members and all the participants. We had a very successful race, thanks to our sponsors and tremendous support from the Sheehan family;  in addition to the traditional t-shirt and runners' medal, all participants received a designer tote bag and all finishers were presented with an inspirational wristband reading "Arete".  Thanks also to residents encouraging the runners along the course, and the patience of area motorists who had to be detoured for the safety of our racers. Many thanks to the Red Bank and  Little Silver police departments, and area First Aid Squads for their cooperation and for the volunteers from high school track teams, local service organizations (including Lunch Break) and area running clubs (JSRC, FARC, SAC). Elite Racing Systems organized the Chronotrack (B-Tag) computer scoring system and finish-line logistics. Main Street Productions provided the speaker system as well as motivational music for the racers.  Continuing a tradition  this year, runners and volunteers were treated to a great post race celebration at Brannigan’s. 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.

Other leading finishers of the memorial George Sheehan Classic, many of whom, along with the aforementioned winners and top finishers, might agree with these quotes attributed to the late beloved Running Doc:

"There are as many reasons for running as there are days in the year, years in my life. But mostly I run because I am an animal and a child, an artist and a saint. So, too, are you. Find your own play, your own self-renewing compulsion, and you will become the person you are meant to be." - "Sweat cleanses from the inside; it comes from places a shower will never reach." - "Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling and enduring and accomplishing." - "When I run, truly run...it is all there. My body does what it does best. The mind like a kaleidoscope constantly rearranges the things it has stored into new and exciting patterns. And my soul utterly loses itself in the present." - "Once you have decided that winning isn't everything, you become a winner."

Also printed on this year’s race’s T-shirt: “Success rests in having the courage and endurance and above all, the will to become yourself.” Last year’s T-shirt had this: “You are the only protector of your body and its beauty. The only defender of your play and its delights. The only defender of your childhood and its dreams.”

Herald area: Geoff Harrison 17:02, Fair Haven; Patrick O’Boyle 17:12 and Sean Rath 17:38, Atl.Highlands; Ken Shatzer 17:53, Middletown; Christian Lamonte 18:05, Atl. Highlands; Kevin Parks 18:17, Middletown; Andrew Rumph 18:27, Rumson; Antonio Meza Soriano 18:27, Red Bank; Jake Albers 18:58, Fair Haven; Brian Hill 19:10, Middletown; Kyle Shenk 19:20, Atl. Highlands; Shannon McCarthy 19:35 and Brendan Thorp 19:36, Fair Haven; Joshua Prown 19:37, Red Bank; Geoffrey Nicholas 19:46, Locust; John Sperdiuto 19:54, Middletown; Mario Gagliano 19:55, Locust; David Wrede 19:58, Red Bank; Michael Metlitz 20:05, Little Silver; Brian Walsh 20:09, Middletown; Tom Ridgway 20:11, Rumson; Chris Bollinger 20:28 and Julie Dickerson 20:34, Little Silver; Adolfo Castillo 20:39, Red Bank; Jeffrey Luma 20:40, Atl. Highlands; Courtney Howley 20:48, Rumson; Doug Lindgren 20:53, Fair Haven; Lisa Zino 21:03, Atl. Highlands; Grace Cashman 21:05 and Jake Marascio 21:06, Little Silver; Jack Howley 21:10, Rumson; Brad Domenico 21:11 and Jim Booth 21:21, Red Bank; Brian Lord 21:22 and Christine Hill 21:23, Middletown.

Monmouth County: Pete Forgach 16:57, Long Branch; Adam Simon 17:45, Marlboro; Daniel Rosenblatt 17:59, Oakhurst; James Mitchell 18:37, Colts Neck; Doug Twyman 18:58, Sea Girt; Jeffrey Cody 19:31, Holmdel; Lisa Namath 19:42, Wall; James Segal 19:49, Holmdel; Scott Linnell19:50, Colts Neck; Amanda Tripodi 20:08, Marlboro; Sheila O’Grady 20:09, Manasquan; Scott Main 20:11, Freehold; Rick Guamaccia 20:22, Holmdel; Matthew Jacobson 20:26, Marlboro; Jack Miskin 20:27, Manasquan; Matt Shafer 20:29, Tinton Falls; Ann Odowd 20:35, Colts Neck; Kathy Kropke 20:36, Avon; Tara Gangi 20:44, Manalapan; Mike Walter 20:50, Eatontown; Paul Gilly 20:55, Freehold; Stephen Harnett 20:57, Hazlet; Bob Reilly 21:06, Manasquan; Jack Goh 21:12, Ocean; Patrick McIntyre 21:18, Bradley Beach; Christen Rillo 21:22, Howell; Jennifer Gunn 21:25, Aberdeen; Kellee Hand 21:27, Howell; Daniel O’Henry 21:28, Wall; Dennis Ehrhardt 21:30, Avon; Mark Mastroberti 21:39, Lincroft; Jen Matz 21:40, Holmdel; Mark Lonergan 21:48, Shrewsbury; Steve Ludeking 21:49, Spring Lake; John Dennehy 21:50, West Long Branch.

Complete lists of finishers and award winners are posted at www.sheehanclassic.org.

Road racing events continue in Pine Beach at Vista Park on June 24 with the annual Pine Beach 5K at 9 a.m. and the One-Mile Riverside Run at 8:15 a.m., info at 732-267-1360. On Wednesday, July 4, is the 23rd annual Firecracker Five at Wall Township Municipal Complex at 8:35 a.m. Kids’ Races, Sunday, July 1, 6:30 p.m., info 732-449-8444 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Next up for the Jersey Shore Grand Prix, sponsored by McLoone's, is the 36th running of the Belmar Five Mile Run, info at www.JSgrandprix.com.