PHOTO: 21st annual Saturday in the Park Women’s 5K start. Photos by Bob Both, Jersey Shore Running Club
HOLMDEL, NJ - A sorority of 245 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 21st Annual Saturday in the Park Women's 5K, on the perfect-racing-weather morning of August 30. 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: Lauren Rome is champion of the JSRC annual women’s event, Holmdel Park.
Lauren Rome, 24, of Howell 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 husband Phil Hinck of the JSRC in a racing time of 19:19 (nineteen minutes and 19 seconds). Manalapan’s Kristen Andrews, 25, was today’s runner-up at 19:41 and third place went to Alyssa Aldida, 14, of Linwood at 20:20. All racers received a pink floral cap.
“I have a lot of great memories at Holmdel Park from racing there in High School. My favorite part of the course is the last mile because it’s mostly downhill which feels good after running up the ‘bowl!’ ,” the champion said, when asked her thoughts on the course. Her best time at Holmdel Park, before this race, was 19:27. Rome ran that time at the HS XC Meet Of Champions back in 2005, a PR “personal record” that stood for almost 9 years. Currently a Junior at Georgian Court University studying to become a Social Worker, she feels very strongly about advocating for and helping Women. “The fact I can connect my love for running with my goals to promote the well-being of all women is awesome!” she shared via email.
The "bowl" is the popular area of this annual event and that's where all 245 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.
Fifty-year-old (50) Lauren Rhatigan of Shipbottom finished in 11th place at 22:51 a 7:22 per mile pace and she won her age group, no doubt about it. Her nearest age-group competitor was slower by 4 minutes and 14 seconds. "The most difficult part of this race is trying to keep up with the youngsters," said Rhatigan.
"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 29:03 resulted in a very respectable 9:22 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, 73, of Eatontown, mother of the race's director who, recovering from a stress fracture, finished in 33.12.
PHOTO: Wine, Women and Running repeated their win in Team Participation Category.
Nancy Thorne, 55, 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 29:13, 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 purple singlet that she and twenty four 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 third in her 55-59 age group running 25:42).
"Good morning ladies and welcome to the 21st year of Saturday in The Park Women’s Race. I’m Dawn Ciccone and I stand before you as a fellow athlete and woman.
This race came about through the vision of race director, Penny Hinck and other founding members of the JSRC. In an effort to offer a women’s event to support other women, Penny created an off road, scenic race that raises money for charities that assist women in getting back on their feet. Saturday in the Park Women’s Race plays a vital part in domestic abuse awareness and it is Penny Hinck’s vision and passion that has allowed this event to be successful year after year. Let us thank Penny Hinck for making this a great race for an important cause and for her endless commitment.
Let us also thank all the volunteers who have worked tirelessly to support our cause year after year.
This morning we gather not only as runners, but as a collective community of women FOR women! So during the race, be competitive, but be supportive of each other. Let us remember that the woman who runs aside us, walks behind us or darts ahead of us, is our sister. Send her off with encouragement and love. Good luck ladies. "
Old Bridge’s Jim Buckler, past JSRC President, acted as emcee for the awards ceremony. Penny Hinck and JSRC members Lorraine Buckler and Diane Cheer awarded certificates, hats and commemorative 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 Mary Amitrani, of Red Bank.
"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 21st running of the event, and look forward to next year's 22nd 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 Rundamentals, a program to train women to run the Saturday in the Park race as their first 5K.
Since its inception, the Saturday in the Park 5K has raised over $208,000 and has created public awareness of options and services available to women. Beneficiary organizations for the 2014 event are Manna House, of Cliffwood Beach, and Providence House of Ocean County.
PHOTO: Children’s races at annual Saturday in the Park.
Over 110 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.
Complete list of event finishers can be found at www.saturdayinthepark5k.org.
Other leading finishers of Saturday in the Park 5K Holmdel Park challenge:
Holmdel: Monica Guarnaccia 24:03, Hannah Lee 25:26, Jaime Roth 25:35, Helen Burleigh 25:53, Gaby Rair 25:55, Gabrielle Cipriano 25:55, Kailey Flynn 25:56, Hayley Shields 26:10, Cat Cirigliano 26:59, Cassaday Duncan 27:15, Matilda Milkowski 27:16, Meghan Milkowski 27:17, Sophia Aiello 27:19, Casey Matthijs 27:48, Clare Buckley 27:52, Lauren Haverlin 28:37, Kathryn Rebele 28:58, Candace Wolkowitz 29:05, Emma Burleigh 29:50, Alexandra Pantaleone 29:51, Theresa Veilleux 30:42, Uma Parasar 30:58.
Atlantic Highlands Herald area:
Middletown: Madison Brand 22:09, Givanna Campanale 23:10, Delia Tota 23:20, Emily Burns 23:22, Isabel Lefkowitz 25:31, Grace Eckstein 27:46, Eileen Eckstein 27:47, Jennifer Quigley 27:52, Vicki Brand 28:29, Amanda Yetman 28:36, Kendall Gemellaro 29:46, Kendall Spreen 30:59.
Others: Tina Morrison 20:28 and Maureen Massell 23:13, Red Bank; Jane Mallach 23:35, Rumson; Catherine Desousa 23:47, Oceanport; Caroline Cerwinski 24:45 and Mary Amitrani 25:15, Red Bank; Dawn Ciccone 25:42, Highlands; Cynthia Desousa 25:48 and Karen Kelly 27:08, Oceanport; Alana Hartman 27:36, Michaela Ferrigine 27:57 and Gabriella Ferrigine 27:58, Red Bank; Carol Irwin 28:29, Rumson; Sherry Walsh 28:39 and Andrea Rimmele 29:00, Red Bank; Roberta Truitt 29:08, Little Silver; Grace Massell 30:50, Red Bank.
Monmouth County: Dianne DeOliveira 20:21, Brick (4th overall, winner of the Mary Conry Memorial Award, presented to the first Jersey Shore Running Club finisher); Caroline Kratka 23:32, Lincroft; Louise Agoston 24:17, Brick; Alison Smith 24:42, West Long Branch; Shannon Addario 24:44, Lincroft; Grace Wells 25:04, Oakhurst (hello to your First Aid dad); Nancy Joy Elliott 29:08, Manasquan; Fran Tyler 29:10, Freehold; Nancy Thorne 29:13, Long Branch; Jennifer Winkelmann 29:19, Colts Neck; Bonnie Ullmeyer 29:30, West Long Branch; Carly Depolo 29:47, Wall; Brianne McNamara 30:20, Eatontown; Megan Avitto 30:29, Keyport; Perri Goldstein 30:36, Marlboro; Patricia Leone 30:37, Belmar; Jodi Girard 31:01 and Tania Uwais 31:18, Tinton Falls; Maryellen Malizioso 31:31, Wall; Karen Loehr 31:40, West Long Branch; Annie Blair 31:41, Morganville; Marianne Ploskonka 31:42, Brick; Luann McGraw 31:55, Manasquan.
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 Thursday, 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.