SANDY HOOK, NJ - Nine hundred and seven (907, up from 703 last year) road racers competed in the 40th running of the Jersey Shore Half Marathon presented by the Shore Athletic Club (SAC) with the cooperation of the Freehold Area Running Club (FARC) and the Jersey Shore Running Club (JSRC) on the sunny/cloudy, breezy Sunday morning of September 30, at the federal park of Gateway National Recreation Area - Sandy Hook.

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Craig Segal, 28, finishes at 1:12:45   PHOTOS by  www.jerseyshorepics.com

The first competitor to break the tape at the finish line, held by FARC vice-president James Jensen and race-director Isabel Meldrum, that is located on the main road outside Parking Lot E, which was also the starting area, was Craig Segal, 28, of Fort Hancock at 1:12:45 (one hour, 12 minutes and 45 seconds). Robert Cavanaugh, 34, of West Long Branch, was second competitor and also recorded those same numbers on the digital clock but was just .05 of a second slower; in other words, they crossed the finish line together, and that’s how the two running friends ran the whole 13.1 miles, side by side. They informed that this event was being used by them to get ready for the upcoming New York City Marathon a bit more than a month away. Coming in third place was Robert Dennis, 26, of Kingston (Somerset County) at 1:14:55.

“A little headwind going out, but otherwise perfect,” said Cavanaugh of the weather and liked the course because, “it is flat!” and he emphasized “flat.” Segal said, “there was a lot of cheering going on especially at the water spots and that made it nice for us runners.” Both informed that this was the first time they competed in this event.

Third-place finisher Dennis thought the weather, “was a bit warm for late September,” and he, too, liked the course because it was flat. “It was 1:08 in 2010,” he answered when asked his best time for this distance. Like his leading competitors, he is using this Jersey Shore Half Marathon event for a warm-up but he for the Philadelphia Marathon.

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Sara Amitrani, 26, of Red Bank finishes at 1:28:56

First in for the women, from this double-loop course, which goes to a turnaround at the lighthouse area at the north end of Sandy Hook to complete the half-marathon distance, was Sara Amitrani, 26, of Red Bank at 1:28:56 (27th place overall). Second and third place for the women went to Maggie Freeman, 43, of Manalapan at 1:34:36 (51st overall, Freeman is a former vice-president of FARC) and Janelle Ralph, 30, of Gold Hill, OR at 1:35:47 (55th overall).

“Yes,” said Amitrani when asked if she were the first woman the whole way and she explained: “At about the third mile I started hearing from the cheering spectators, ‘here comes the first woman or the first female.’” When asked her best time for this distance, she said, “This is it.” So 1:28:56 is her PR (personal record) for a half marathon.

“I didn’t gain second place until the last turnaround (the beginning of the 4th lap)” said Freeman in describing her women’s runner-up postion. “I really like this course and the weather was in our favor today,” the Manalapan police officer further informed.   

Racewalk finisher: Maria Paul 3:10:11, Long Branch.

Wheelchair finishers: Chelsea Crytzer, 21, 1:17:43, Parsippany;  Leighann Martinez, 37, 1:25:55, Aberdeen;  John Benedetto, 27, 1:25:57, Staten Island.     

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Chelsea Crytzer, 21, of Parsippany finishes at 1:17:43,

“This run, this event is awesome!” exclaimed Dawn Ciccone of Highlands who considers this course, “my own backyard and I train here a lot.” She likes the double loop because, “you get to see all the racers and many of them are my friends and we give high fives to each other.” She and her coach Tom Schaefer of Keansburg finished together at 1:44:29.  

A special feature of this race is that water-drinking stations are strategically placed on the scenic course and serviced by different groups. A prize is offered to the group that expresses the most enthusiasm to the runners and this is decided by the racers’ votes. Donna Cetrulo, feature organizer, filed this report: “The Civil Air Patrol Cadets have been volunteering their services at the JSHM for several years.  The group is the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force.  Members of the Civil Air Patrol Cadets, and their leaders come dressed in their uniforms ready for hard work. Their duties included setting up on Saturday, directing traffic, assisting at the first aid area, and cleaning up long after the runners have left the park. They, along with Marlboro High School X-C team and Ocean Hockey team made up the high school division that run water stops.  Monmouth University, the perennial favorite, and Georgian Court University, were the two collegiate level teams.  Each brought a good number of enthusiastic volunteers.  After the runners and walkers finished the race, they were asked to choose their favorite water stop.  There was great debate about the merits of each team, but many people agreed that they all did a terrific job. In all elections however, there are winners. This year Monmouth University won at the collegiate level, and Ocean Hockey at the high school level.  Once again our thanks to the young people and their coaches, advisers for providing the runners with water, and encouragement, and merriment.” 

At the starting line, Phil Hinck, past president of the JSRC (twice) and director of many local races, two of which are nationally recognized, informed the racers of the water stops and encouraged the participants to make use of them. Hinck then introduced road-racing champion of many Shore area events David Demonico of Ocean who gave a fine rendition of our Star-Spangled Banner on his trumpet and Chick Albers of Hazlet accompanied him on the bass drum Hinck then got the Half Marathoners ready and voiced a loud “Ready, Set, GO” and the racers were off at 9 a.m.  following the lead vehicle driven by the race director.  

The Sandy Hook Lighthouse 5K is part of this annual event and that race of 3.1 miles went off a few minutes after the main event and was led by bicyclist Rich Edwards, president of FARC. Its course was part of the main course, including the same finishing-line chute, along with the vast parking lot itself.  Ivo Casas, 25, of Elizabeth was the winner (three successive years) of the 194 (up from 133) total competitors at 17:57. Courtney Stanton, 26, of Montville was the women’s winner at 20:31 (8th overall).                                   

Post registration is a problem for this event since the Department of Interior prohibits any money exchange on its federal property so registration has to be off site. Tim McLoone was generous enough to offer the parking lot of his Sea Bright restaurant for post-registration purposes.  The committee members set up for this were retiree from the Long Branch school system Donna Cetrulo, Ocean; Carolyn Heuser, Freehold; Janet Bergum, Howell; Patty Hitman, Ocean; Nate Byrd, great Shore AC athlete   and Paulette Matis a colleague of the director at Rutgers University.

Paul Roman, Emergency Medical Coordinator for the race and Assistant Howard Suffill, said that, “There were a few serious cases and we did have the normal amount of expected cuts and bruises.” They further informed that several organizations were on hand in case of need: the first aid squads of Highlands, Atlantic Highlands, Rumson and Middletown Township, which also included its bike team; the representatives of the Civil Air Patrol Bayshore Composite Squadron; Paramedics from MONOC; Physicians from Jersey Shore Sports Medicine; chiropractors from the NJ Chiropractic Society.

Race director Isabel Meldrum, former president of both FARC and SAC and active racewalker, presented awards to the aforementioned winners and age-group leaders at the Parking Lot E's concession section, which served as the staging area. Overall winners and age-group leaders received seaside picture frames. Awards were miniature lighthouses. Random prizes of two bicycles were available along with a painting by renowned Shore artist Avram Shapiro. A great picnic was provided at this oceanside location: hot soup, hot dogs, bagels, fruit and soft drinks. The hospitality chairs of Patrick and Patricia Coyne presented a beautiful food arrangement.  This race has been voted the best food race at the Jersey Shore.

"I'm very excited about the excellent turnout, 907 half-marathoners and 194 in the Lighthouse 5K, and want to thank all the racers for their support.  I want to acknowledge also the know-how cooperation we get from the volunteers (250 total) of the area clubs (SAC, FARC, JSRC).  Compliments, too, to the chairpeople of the organizing committee who did an outstanding job of food preparation and distribution for the athletes. I want to thank Donna Cetrulo, Linda Hyer, Mike O’Flaherty, Tom Wendel, Marcia and Avram Shapiro, Phil and Penny Hinck, Patricia and Patrick Coyne, Rich Edwards, John Weitz and Fred Torres of Elite Racing Systems for all their help. I also want to recognize our sponsors: Charlie Rooney and McCloone’s Riverside Restaurant. A special thank you to the National Park Service Rangers who coordinate the traffic on the roads, also the Civil Air Patrol Cadets. The Half is a very special Jersey Shore event as it has its roots right here at Sandy Hook and this year marks 40 years of running at the Shore. It keeps on growing and my philosophy is that when you put on a quality event the runners will come out and support it. The Jersey Shore Half Marathon is a runners’ race put on for runners and by runners. I want to pay gratitude to you one and all. We hope to see you on September 29th 2013. Our website is http://jerseyshorehalfmarathon.com.”  said director Meldrum in an E-mail overview. Meldrum has been involved in this event for 19 years, 16 as director.

Other finishers of the 13.1 mile challenge:

    Atlantic Highlands Herald area leaders:  Jason Gers 1:17:00,  Monmouth Beach;  James McGovern 1:20:34, Atl. Highlands;  Harley Lefkowitz 1:26:54, Red Bank;  Kevin Varno 1:29:24, Belford;  Rich Bayer 1:31:08, Fair Haven;  Andrew MacLane 1:32:01, Middletown;  Brian Katt 1:35:23, Fair Haven;  Ronald Passaro 1:36:04, Atl. Highlands;  Mark McGuigan 1:37:34, Fair Haven;  Jason Pawling 1:39:18, Middletown;  Serena Hunt 1:40;33, Sea Bright;  Michael Walker 1:43:28, Rumson;  Maureen Nocella 1:44:02, Red Bank;  Dawn Ciccone 1:44:29, Highlands;  Gabriella Kelly 1:45:16, Rumson;  Meg Boushie 1:45:18, Little Silver;  Manfred Krueger 1:45:29 and Charles Rugg 1:45:37, Fair Haven;  Christen Ambrosio 1:46:13, Port Monmouth;  Scott Rosenblum 1:46:22, Atl. Highlands;  Cathy Capozzi 1:46:28, Middletown;  Lee Marie Dashti 1:46:42, Red Bank;  Steven Ferjentsik 1:48:23, Rumson;  Tara Martinbo 1:48:31, Middletown;  John Elliott 1:48:45, Middletown;  Frank Massa 1:49:10, Red Bank.     

   Other leaders in Monmouth County:  Patrick D’Alessandro, 1:18:01, Asbury Park;  Pete Forgach 1:18:28, Long Branch;  Jeff Propert 1:19:09, Wall;  Pat Ford 1:22:15, Neptune City;  Miles Hersey 1:26:35, Hazlet;  Kevin Hart 1:28:24;  Andrew Plunkett 1:29:02, Englishtown;  Jack Goh 1:29:29, Ocean;  Jim Redeker 1:32:39, Wall;  Dylan Ascolese 1:32:42, Keyport;  Daniel Ressegiue 1:32:42, Wall;  Michal Socha 1:33:39, Matawan;  Marc Fogarty 1:34:07,  Mike Studer 1:36:07, Freehold;  Kenneth Coles 1:37:41, Howell;  Ann O’Dowd 1:38:14, Colts Neck;  Jordan Warncke 1:38:23, Freehold;  Patrick McIntyre 1:39:02, Bradley Beach;  Morris Sutton 1:39:57, Oakhurst;  David Wong 1:40:53, Eatontown;  Carl Ennis 1:41:10, Long Branch;  Mary Beth Glaccum 1:41:39, Brielle;  Dennis Ehrhardt 1:42:22, Avon;  Christine Altland 1:42:59, Hazlet;  Alicia Kelly 1:44:23, Spring Lake Heights (Welcome back Shore Area Super Champion!);  Thomas Schaefer 1:44:29, Keansburg;  John Fraebel 1:44:34, Morganville;  Sean Altland 1:45:16, Hazlet;  Nicole Yaeger 1:46:17, Lake Como;  Courtney Zalepka 1:46:28, Freehold;  ManoloTeijeko 1:46:43, Holmdel.      

Complete results are at Eliteracingsystems.com.

Road racing events continue and their schedules appear on www.jsrc.org and www.farcnj.com