PHOTO: Runners take the course at the Inaugural Twin Lights 5K Race
Mike Mooney Breaks the Tape at Inaugural 5K Race
August 13, 2014 — Highlands, NJ - Aficionados of 5K races tend to combine two qualities. They are keenly competitive and they have an appetite for new and unusual experiences. Which likely explains the appeal of the first-ever Twin Lights 5K Twilight Run, held on Sunday, August 10th on a sunny evening in historic Highlands.
The course started at the top of Lighthouse Rd., wiggled down through the town’s steep hills to Bay Ave., and then straight to Huddy Park—where the race turned and retraced its steps, back uphill, with the finish line set up in front of the two towers, with the Atlantic Ocean and New York skyline as a backdrop.
“There was a lot of Wow Factor to this race for the 5K folks,” says Michael Kelly, a Twin Lights Historical Society trustee and Twilight Run co-chair. “Not many running events offer such a dramatic and historic setting, especially when you add the challenge of a 200-plus-foot ascent to the finish line. The 6:00 p.m. Sunday start was also unusual.”
“I’m impressed that every runner that started finished the race,” adds Mary Jo Kenny, President of the Twin Lights Historical Society. “We had 105 start and 105 complete the course on a very warm summer evening. Many of the runners told us that cheering from the people in Highlands kept them going. Overall, the support from the town was exceptional.”
L-R Stephanie Lasner, Matt Hanley, Mike Mooney, Heather Schlisserman, Melissa Fariello, Justin Cabinian, Corina Vidal. Credit: John Colannino
The first-place finisher of the inaugural Twin Lights 5K Twilight Run was veteran runner Mike Mooney of Jackson (17:45.7), with Matt Hanley of Ridgewood (18:01.5) and Justin Cabinian of Atlantic Highlands (19:44.3) taking second and third. The fourth-place finisher—and winner of the women’s category—was Stephanie Lasner of New City, NY (20:09.9). The second- and third-place finishers among the women were Melissa Fariello of Atlantic Highlands (22:56.4) and Heather Schlisserman of Tinton Falls (23:10.6). Highlands resident Dawn Ciccone (23:27.0) finished right behind them. The top overall time by a Highlands runner was turned in by Leonardo Mejia (21:24.9), who finished 7th overall. The fastest junior time was logged by 15-year-old Avery Templo of Old Bridge (24:14.2).
The 5K Twilight Run was the latest in a series of events held at the Twin Lights to publicize the renovation and redesign of the Twin Lights Museum, which is expected to attract an additional 30,000 people to the National Historic Site annually. The site already draws 80,000 to 100,000 visitors a year.
According to trustee Mark Stewart, the bulk of the expense for the museum redesign is being shouldered by The Twin Lights Historical Society through an active network of donors and volunteers.
“The lighthouse is an important economic engine for the Route 36 corridor, generating over $1 million a year for area businesses, year-in and year-out,” he says. “After Sandy, we were asked to mothball the museum project because the state coffers were empty. Instead, the Society put its head down, created new partnerships inside and outside of government—including MCHA, the Edison Foundation, the Princeton Museum—and found ways to keep the project moving forward at maximum velocity.”
“The 5K race was our way of reaching out to an entirely new constituency to let them know about the amazing things that are happening up here at the Twin Lights,” adds John Caroli, a Society trustee and race co-chair with Kelly. “The bonus is that what began essentially as a one-off event has quickly taken on a life of its own. I wouldn’t be surprised if we are turning away runners next summer.”
Sponsors of the inaugural Twin Lights 5K Twilight Run included Abel Chimney Contractors, Bahr’s Landing, Bernard Caroli Wealth Management, Builders’ General Supply Company, The Flaky Tart, Guaranteed Plant & Florist, The Lusty Lobster, Ocean First Bank, Shore Footed Shrewsbury, Windansea and Woody’s. Thanks also to Jersey Shore Coffee Roasters, D’Alessio’s Bagel Express & In the Garden for their support.