PHOTO: Start of Celtic Tribute 5K in Long Branch.  Photos by John (Jack) Kearns

LONG BRANCH, NJ - For twenty-two years, the Jersey Shore Running Club has presented a race on Easter Saturday morning and for its twenty-third year, on March 30, 2013, it continues as it has done recently with the title now being the Celtic Tribute 5K that will benefit the scholarship fund of Patrolman Benevolent Association Local 10 in memory of all its Fallen Officers.

The out and back course, a 3.1 mile distance started at the north end of the Long Branch oceanfront’s Promenade, went south onto the Pier Village boardwalk, then continued onto Ocean Avenue to a three-street turn-around and returned to finish at the Long Branch Great Lawn area.


Robert Cavanaugh, 35, of West Long Branch was today’s winner at 15:53 (15 minutes and 53 seconds). Coming in second place of the total 312 competitors was Wall Township’s Jeff Propert, 32, at 16:49 and third place, on this breezy, but not windy mid-fifties morning went to Jason Gers, 39, of Monmouth Beach, at 16:53.   

 “It’s my first 5K since August of last year and yes, I’m satisfied with it,” said today’s champion when asked if he were satisfied with his racing time.  He further offered, “It’s a pretty good out and back course, pretty much flat all the way, the wind was a bit tough coming back – Yes, if I’m around, I’ll race it next year, it kind of kicks off the upcoming summer races.”

 “It’s great, it’s scenic - you got the beach and the ocean to look at and I feel like it’s right in my backyard,” said third-place finisher Gers of Monmouth Beach that borders Long Branch.

jsrc_celtic_5k_femaleJamie Liberti, 27, of Middletown was the women’s winner at 18:56 (5th place overall). Second and third-place women, respectively, went to Amanda Tripoli, 37, of Marlboro at 19:54 (12th overall) and Maggie Freeman, 43, of Manalapan, at 20:51 20th overall).

“It was good – I haven’t raced since September,” said Liberti when asked to comment on her racing time.  She further informed that the Pier House 5K was her best time for this distance at 18:21. 

 The top ten male police officer finishers were  Greg Martone 20:15, Wall;  Andrew Goldberg 22:42, Marlboro; Joshua Bard 22:56, Long Branch; Robert Shamrock 23:32, Long Branch; Matthew Devecka 23:36, Forked River; Michael Reuter 23:45, Middletown;  David Crenwhaw 24:08, Neptune;  Kevin Connoer 25:33, Middletown; Adam Colfer 25:57, Howell ; and Frank Kus 26:08, Jackson.

Top female police officers were Maggie Freeman, Manalapan  (third overall female racer); Heather Hollis Valdes 27:03, Long Branch;  and Rose Condello  39:55, Jackson.

Middletown Police Local 124, for a second consecutive year, was presented the award for the best represented PBA.

“I just love this course,” said Long Branch’s Nancy Thorne, 53, who finished at 27:25 a respectable 8:50 per-mile pace. “It’s like so many races we’re lucky to have with the ocean as our beautiful scenery; and some of the courses have lakes to go along with the ocean.” Thorne is referring to the summer oceanfront events such as the Spring Lake Five Mile Run which includes Lake Como; the Belmar Five Mile Run which also includes that same lake and Silver Lake too; the Avon 5K that has Sylvan Lake; the Bradley Beach 5K has that same lake and Fletcher Lake to boot. When Nancy is not running these picturesque ocean/lake races, she will be directing the annual memorial Michael Thorne Scholarship Run in West Long Branch always presented on the third Sunday in May. It is a rare 4-mile run, which in contrast to this event, meanders through the many well-paved, well-policed streets among manicured lawns of the town and honors the memory of her fireman brother, Michael, who was killed while on duty.   

Highly decorated Vietnam veteran, with four Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart, Joseph Renzella, 71, of Neptune City, finished at 30:02. He said of the weather: “Going out the wind was with us, but coming back it was a bit rough, but not as bad as last year.”

Olie Nelson 77, of Farmingdale was in at 27:37 and won second place award in his age group. “I was happy with my racing time and I like doing this race; it’s for a worthy cause,” he said. There were a total of five septuagenarians that raced this event and two octogenarians also. Those seven competitors bring to mind a quote attributed to the great Jackie Robinson of Baseball’s Hall of Fame: Life Is Not a Spectator Sport!

Ocean Township’s Bob Hayes, 62, finished the 3.1 miles in 45:18.  The 3.1 miles is a mile and a tenth more than Hayes does every day of his life, 365 days a year and 366 on leap year. He started this everyday 2-mile exercise on February 13, 1982 because he was determined to lose weight and he liked to run. The one time in all those 31 years that he had a medical appointment, he did his two miles first and then did what the doctor ordered.

The names of the Fallen Officers as mentioned above are printed on the ice-grey T-Shirts of the event. They are: Patrolman Herman Emmons – End of Watch 12 -17 – 1921; Patrolman William Richards – End of Watch 10 – 23 – 1967; Sergeant Patrick King – End of Watch 11 – 20 – 1997.

At the starting line at 11 a.m., Phil Hinck thanked the racers for coming on this pleasant, but windy day and gave them an overview of the course and instructed them to make sure they went over the scoring mats at the starting line that were placed there by Fred Torres of Elite Racing Systems that record their racing time.

PBA delegate and race committee member Scott Beaver addressed the crowd with the following words: "As you remember our Fallen Officers, take comfort in recalling that they dedicated their lives to Honor, Duty and Courage. Such a life is truly rich. Take strength in knowing that when an officer falls our resolve to serve those in need are not diminished; our dedication to protecting those in danger is not weakened; our commitment to remembering those with whom we shared the badge does not fade. Godspeed brothers you fought the good fight.  Now rest in peace. "

Hinck next introduced race committee member Pat Joyce, a retired Long Branch police officer, who thanked the racers and sang our National Anthem with many racers joining in. Then Hinck gave a three-command start and the racers were off following the lead police motorcycle driven by Sergeant Jeff Passentino.

Following the race, awards of custom green and white coffee mugs were presented at the Long Branch Great Lawn bandshell, to the aforementioned winners and age-group leaders by Joyce, assisted by JSRC Board Member Penny Hinck.  Raffle prizes were offered due to the generosity of the local business community and Edward Filusch of Brooklyn, who posted a 24:10, won the main prize of a bike.

"I want to thank race committee members:  Scott Beaver, Pat Joyce, and Kevin and Maureen Martin.  I want to recognize the race-day volunteers who contributed their time and effort in making the race successful, especially my wife Penny who really does all the work on raceday. I especially want to thank the City of Long Branch and public works department for getting the course in shape in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, we were fortunate to have a unique course with orange barricades providing a chute almost the entire way. The Torres family of www.eliteracingsystems.com did the computerized results, with John Kuhi handling the course clocks. The event has been successful every year since 1990 due to the help of our sponsors and community support and we hope to continue doing it for such great non-profits and grassroots organizations," said Phil Hinck in an E-mail message.

Other leading finishers of the scenic Celtic Tribute 5K:

Event/Race area:

    Long Branch:  Kasey Bumber 22:17,  Aaron Levine 22:51,  Joshua Bard 22:56,  Christian Wagner 23:09,  Joseph Mazzone 23:12,  Robert Shamrock 23:32,  Mark Sullivan 23:40, Audrey Ging 24:20,  Juan Valdes 24:57,  James Cook 25:34,  Heather Hollis Valdes 27:12,  John Rogers 27:20,  Nancy Thorne 27:25,  David House 28:05,  Brendan Cahill 28:35,  Edward Rogers 29:04,  Chris Sonntag 29:09.

   Others:  Robert Cavanaugh 15:53, West Long Branch (champion);  Jason Gers 16:53, Monmouth Beach;  William Miller 20:22, West Long Branch;  Grace Wells 21:38, Oakhurst;  T.J. Frabizio 21:45, Ocean;  Mollie Somers 22:13 and Danielle Testa 22:53,  Monmouth Beach;  Michael Procopio 22:58 and Joanna Antisell 23:15, Ocean;  Mike Barrows 23:49, Shrewsbury;  Trevor Somers 23:54, Monmouth Beach;  Brian Holderness 24:55, West Long Branch;  Karen Kelly 25:07, Oceanport;  Kendall Petschauer 25:31, West Long Branch;  Carrie Corej 25:58, Oceanport;  Andrew Siciliano 26:20, Oakhurst;  Dayne Antisell 26:21, Ocean;  Ryan Loehr 27:12, West Long Branch;  Robert Scesa 27:18, Oceanport;  Dana Longo 28:33 and Timothy Somers 29:05, Monmouth Beach;  Joanne Scesa 29:06, Oceanport;  Marcela Novotina 29:07, Oakhurst;  Ralph English 29:12, Ocean;  Mike Relli 29:15, Little Silver;  Michael Lisanti 29:59, West Long Branch. 

 Atlantic Highlands Herald area leading finishers: 

   Henry Mercer 20:04, Locust;  John Gore, 20:10 and David Zurheide 20:29,  Middletown;  Bagriella Ferrigene 21:09,  Red Bank;  Chris Fotache 22:25, Middletown;  Elliot Olschwang 22:27, Red Bank;  Kevin Garrison 22:43, Leonardo;  John Kilduff 22:45 and Michael Reuter 23:45, Middletown;  John Moetz 23:58, Highlands;  Michael Brady 24:09, Port Monmouth;  David Satterthwaite 24:13, Red Bank;  Joe Coccaro 24:39 and Dawn Jackson 25:34, Middletown;  Frank Pugliese 25:42, Red Bank;  Martin Dugan 27:33, Patrick Quigley 28:24 and Joe Castellano 29:00, Middletown;  Rodger Miller 31:13, Port Monmouth;  Christine Weimer 31:55, Atl. Highlands;  Frank Demarco 32:26, Highlands;  Jamie Higgins 32:56, Middletown.

 Other Monmouth County leading finishers:

   Anthony Mazza 19:24, Hazlet;  Matt Nunnally 19:34, Avon;  Amanda Tripodi 19:54, Marlboro;  Greg Martone 20:15, Wall;  Maggie Freeman 20:51, Manalapan;  Steve Prefontaint 20:54, Bradley Beach;  Joseph Resciniti 20:57, Manalapan;  Ed Alburtus 21:04, Neptune City;  Ed Moran 21:30, Aberdeen;  Christine Thompson 22:02, Matawan;  Elizabeth Spector 22:39, Manalapan;  Andrew Goldberg 22:42, Marlboro;  Andrew Wallace 22:53, Howell;  Connor Martin 23:01, Spring Lake;  Patrick McIntyre 23:18, Bradley Beach;  Robin Markson 23:32, Freehold;  Jack Bleach 24:00 Belmar;  Michael Martin 24:07, Spring Lake;  David Crenshaw 24:08, Neptune;  Michael Williams 25:03 and Melissa Blatt 25:26, Tinton Falls;  Kevin McMahon 25:45, Lake Como; James Bergum 25:46 (Webmaster FARC) and Adam Colfer 25:57, Howell;  Robert Sexton 26:43, Manalapan;  Carl Turner 26:51, Wanamassa;  Soraya Bilotti 26:54, Manalapan;  Brian McGrogan 27:03, Union Beach.   

 Road-racing events continue and schedules can be found on www.farcnj.com and www.jsrc.org.