PHOTO: Start of the 20th Anniversary Saturday in the Park Women’s 5K. photos by Bob Both, jerseyshorepics.com
HOLMDEL, NJ - A sorority of 297 would-be-road racers started their Labor Day weekend as cross-country competitors and challenged New Jersey’s Holmdel Park's 3.1 mile championship course by responding to the invitation of the 20th Annual Saturday in the Park Women's 5K, on the hazy and humid, but good-racing-weather morning of August 31. The event’s purpose is for “Women Taking Steps to Help Women” and is organized by the Jersey Shore Running Club (JSRC).
After a fine rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, by Dawn Ciccone of Highlands, race-starter Phil Hinck, husband of Penny, the race director, gave a loud, "Ready, set, go” and the racers were underway on "one of the toughest cross-country courses in Monmouth County, maybe in all of New Jersey," offered the race starter: The first 1/3 of a mile is an uphill climb that eventually leads to a large recession, commonly referred to as the "bowl,” then continues onto the last leg of the course that winds downhill through woods to the straightaway finish contiguous to the main road.
PHOTO: Brianna Gess repeats as champion of the JSRC annual women’s event, Holmdel Park.
Briana Gess, 15, of Haddonfield was first into the finish-line chute set up by Elite Racing Systems.com and broke the finish-line tape held by director Hinck of Monmouth Beach and Marcia Fishkin of Providence House, in a racing time of 18:39 (eighteen minutes and 39 seconds). This time is 29 seconds faster than last year when she was the 2012 champion. Jackson’s Amanda Marino, 23, also a past-winner, was today’s runner-up at 18:50 and third place went to Shelby Cain, 18, of Haddonfield at 20:10. All racers received a silver runner’s charm necklace.
“The first mile or so is difficult - but the ‘bowl’ is the hardest part,” the champion has said, when asked her thoughts on the course. Cherokee High School of Burlington County and Gloucester County College were the schools she has been connected with.
The "bowl" is the popular area of this annual event and that's where all 297 competitors heard running-champion, Ocean Township's, formerly South River, David Demonico, alumnus of Rutgers, serenading his running/racewalking friends with inspirational music from his trumpet.
"I love this course - I like the woods, the hills, the turns, the running in the grass and dirt," said Ocean Township's Susan Ardito, active member of the JSRC, whose racing time of 30:23 resulted in a very respectable 9:47 per mile pace. "It's a great event for women and I'm glad and proud to be a part of it," she further offered.
"The park rangers did a fabulous job of getting the park ready for us," said Marilyn Ryder, 72, of
Eatontown, mother of the race's director who, recovering from a stress fracture, walked part of the course.
PHOTO: Holmdel High School Soccer team representatives accept award for winning the Girl’s Team Challenge.
Nancy Thorne, 54, of Long Branch who is the director of the annual Michael Thorne 4-Mile Scholarship Run presented the third Sunday in May in West Long Branch to honor her fireman brother who was killed while on duty, finished at 29:16, a respectable racing time on this course. “I love this women’s race – I'm always thrilled to be here, it's for a great cause - we have a women’s team Wine, Women and Running,” Thorne said when asked to comment. Those words are printed on the orange singlet that she and sixteen other team members were wearing today. The team repeated as the largest participating open team at the event.
Prior to the start of the race at 9 a.m., Carly DePolo, president of the JSRC, welcomed and thanked all for coming to this worthwhile event. A moment of silence was offered for Mary Conry, past JSRC member and for Chuck Whelan, a former race director of the event and past JSRC president, who lost his life five years ago after a long, heartbreaking illness, in recognition of their dedication to the JSRC and to Saturday in the Park. DePolo then introduced Dawn Ciccone, singer of the National Anthem who also offered appropriate remarks that fit in with the main reason for this event: Women Taking Steps to Help Women. (By the way, Dawn, finished second in her 55-59 age group running 25:27).
"Good morning ladies. Today we unite for the 20th Anniversary of Saturday in the Park. This race plays a vital part in domestic abuse awareness. We thank Penny Hinck, the race director of this wonderful event, for not only making this a great race for an important cause, but for her endless commitment in donating the proceeds to charities that assist women in overcoming domestic violence and getting back on their feet. We thank all the volunteers who have worked tirelessly to support our cause.
This morning we gather not only as runners, but as a collective community of women FOR women! By your very presence, each and every one of you make a stand to afford the same opportunity to our fellow sisters that we enjoy - freedom to speak our minds, to choose a career, to dress the way we like and to follow our dreams without fear of reprisal.
With every step you take towards the finish line be a beacon of light for those who follow. Encourage those women beside you and celebrate the victory together! Teach by example and take pride in knowing that YOUR participation helps to Free others. Thank you ladies and good luck!"
Old Bridge’s Jim Buckler, past JSRC President, acted as emcee for the awards ceremony. Penny Hinck and JSRC member Lorraine Buckler awarded framed anniversary posters and commerative mugs to the aforementioned winners as well as age-group leaders and other special achievers near the tree-lined race finishing area. The Holmdel Girls Soccer Team was recognized as the best represented High School Team. Gifts were offered at a random drawing, due to the generosity of the business community. The main gift was a cruiser bike, courtesy of Brielle Cyclery and JSRC Members Jack and Diane Cheer of Wall, which was won by Debra Lagina, of Holmdel. "It was another great day organized by the Saturday in the Park Race Committee and the Jersey Shore Running Club. I am extremely pleased with this year's turnout for our 20th anniversary, and look forward to next year's 21st annual. I want to thank our sponsors, the race committee and the tremendous efforts of our volunteers; all components of the event merge together to produce a truly enjoyable day for the women runners and walkers, as well as raise awareness for the women's charities which need our support. Special thanks also to Holmdel park rangers for providing the beautiful setting year after year,” said director Hinck.
The Saturday in the Park event began in 1994 as part of the Women's Distance Festival of the Road Runners' Club of America which was an effort to encourage women's running at all levels. JSRC continues with the tradition of offering a program to train women to run the Saturday in the Park race as their first 5K. Twelve women and volunteer coaches participated in the JSRC Rundamentals Training Program, and several completed the race as their graduation event.
Since its inception, the Saturday in the Park 5K has raised over $204,000 and has created public awareness of options and services available to women. Beneficiary organizations for the 2013 event are Manna House, of Cliffwood Beach, and Providence House of Ocean County.
Over 100 dedicated volunteers were available for the myriad activities of putting on an event such as this and among them, serving at the water stop, was a large contingent from New Jersey Natural Gas Company, an annual supporter of the race. John Kuhi provided timing on the course and finish line. Elite Racing Systems organized the computer results. This event also includes kids’ races for 2 to 12-year-olds and nearly 30 participated.
Other leading finishers of Saturday in the Park 5K Holmdel Park challenge:
Holmdel: Meghan Milkowski 24:19, Jaime Roth 26:32, Nicole Lagrua 27:54, Katie Vates 28:02, Debra Lagina 28:05, Antonietta Picascia 28:44, Gabby Bair 29:07, Lauren Haerlin 30:17, Cassady Duncan 30:25, Nicole Pantaleone 30:27, Theresa Veilleux 30:30, Candace Wolkovitz 30:40, Michaelah Reynolds 31:21, Clare Buckley 32:38, Kelly Dronne 32:39, Kaci Swift 32:40, Sara Dokhgan 32:52, Alyssa Cuccurullo 33:10, Lisa DeLucia 33:16, Sara Cruz 33:46, Katerina Distler 33:53, Colleen Zelina 33:59, Elizabeth Zelina 34:00, Maggie Matthijs 34:17, Matilda Milkowski 34:18, Emma Burleigh 34:31, Ally Marchiano 34:54, Manjula Chidambaram 35:06, Casey Matthijs 35:07, Alexandra Pantaleone 35:08, Kellie Mendes 35:13, Alexa Limbach 35:14.
Atlantic Highlands Herald area: Jacqueline Gottuse 20:31, Fair Haven; Christiana Rutkowski 20:43, Middletown; Cassidy Weimer 21:17, Leonardo; Catherine Satzke 21:43, Fair Haven; Sylvie Evarts 22:20, Middletown; Bridget Kelly 22:27, Little Silver; Emily Hellman 22:39, Rumson; Mary Kate Himmelberg 22:52, Middletown; Christina Caccamo 23:44, Leonardo; Gianna Campanale 23:56, Delia Tota 24:08 and Emily Burns 24:28, Middletown; Bridgette Laurence 25:17, Red Bank; Dawn Ciccone 25:27, Highlands; Lisa Devona 26:00, Caroline Cerwinski 26:04 and Stacey Donadio 26:59, Red Bank; Dana McQuade 27:18, Middletown; Pam Allen 27:46, Melissa Laurence 28:43 and Sherry Walsh 28:47, Red Bank; Hilary Burns 28:57, Middletown; Kelly Logan 29:12, Atl. Highlands; Carol Irwin 29:14, Rumson; Morgan Ploscia 29:33, Monmouth Beach; Erica Wentworth 29;42, Port Monmouth; Alana Hartman 29:49, Red Bank; Stephanie Debenedetto 30:10, Middletown; Mary Amitrani 30:20, Red Bank; Jayne Depontes 30:34 and Kathryn Mongeau 30:39, Middletown; Michaela Ferrigine 31:17, Red Bank; Monica Todaro 31:41, Middletown; Mary Moriarty 31:59, Highlands; Shannon Schneider 32:15, Red Bank; Robyn Damien 34:27, Middletown; Mary Fisher 35:14, Port Monmouth.
Other Monmouth County leaders: Jerilyn Rembisz 20:45 and Brianna Haspel 21:18, Lincroft; Lauren Sapone 21:20, Shrewsbury; Amber Hart 21:40, Belmar; Lauren Rome 21:42, Howell; Ashley Hart 21:50, Belmar; Bethany Rivera 22:16, Hazlet; Diane Rothman 23:49, Lincroft; Stephanie Soriero 23:50, Wall; Megan Boese 23:57, Hazlet; Kim Hart 24:15, Belmar; Meghan Adams 25:16, Spring Lake; Skaiste Cohen 25:23, Keansburg; Alison Smith 25:34, West Long Branch; Angela Helfrich 25:49, Hazlet; Kristin Scholz 25:56, Lincroft; Tierra Hackley 26:01, West Keansburg; Caroline Kratka 26:16, Lincroft; Kimberly Walsh 26:28, Hazlet; Elizabeth Kratka 26:30, Lincroft; Stephanie Sacharanski 26:33, Union Beach; Danielle Savvas 26:35 and Lauren Joseph 26:37, Ocean; Nicole Valente 26:51, Lincroft; Erin Seber 27:01, Hazlet; Karen Kelly 27:20, Oceanport; Faith Reash 27:42, Hazlet; Holly Basile 27:43, Wall; Trish Ridge 27:47, Hazlet; Mary Sullivan 27:50, Freehold; Lindsay Bulawa 28:08, Manalapan; Catherine Kratka 28:10, Lincroft; Claire Vilanova 28:11, Ocean; Marybeth Chartier 28:15 Belmar; Carly DePolo 28:38 and Chrissi Michael 28:39, Wall.
Complete list of event finishers can be found at www.saturdayinthepark5k.org.
Road-racing events continue and their schedules can be found on the following websites: www.jsrc.org, www.farcnj.com and www.orc.org.
Friends and relatives of runners and racewalkers, as well as the general public, should be aware that at the Belmar boardwalk, across from Dunkin Donuts on Wednesday, September 11, at 6 p.m., is the annual Jersey Shore Memorial Run (not a race) which will memorialize all from the Jersey Shore who tragically died on that infamous day. There is no fee. Show up and jog quietly to Spring Lake with other fellow mourners and enjoy a special, solemn occasion. You won't regret having given of your time.