MIDDLETOWN, NJ - Four-hundred and fifteen road racers (341 for the 15K and 74 for the 3-miler) competed in the 20th annual Indian Trails Races staged at Croydon Hall in the Leonardo section of Middletown on a glorious, sunny morning of April 11. The event’s flier informs the course to be, “One of the most beautiful in the state with breathtaking views.” Michael Dixon, 27, of Fanwood was first in from the course that starts in an eastern direction on Leonardville Road continues for 9.3 miles on adjacent streets throughout hilly Navesink and returns to the finish line located just outside the Croydon Hall gymnasium at a blistering time of 50:04 (fifty minutes and 4 seconds). Highlands Mike Anis, 28, was a distant second at 54:49 and third place went to Luciano Deoliveira, 31, of Long Branch at 55:43.
“The course is wonderful and challenging,” said Dixon when asked to comment. He went on to explain: “It’s wonderful because of the panoramic views it offers and it’s challenging because on every mile there’s at least one hill.” When asked his thoughts on today’s weather, he said, “It’s beautiful, the sun is shining, there’s not a cloud in the sky and the wind is pretty bearable.” The champion further informed that once the three mile runners left the main course he was in front and it stayed that way. At no time did anyone get in front of him. Runner-up Anis agreed with Dixon, “It’s a beautiful, sunny day and you got a clear view of the ocean.” Anis also informed that he was satisfied with his performance and he was using this race as preparation for the upcoming Boston Marathon.
Racers have been given a caveat by the organizers over the years that, “ If you like fast and flat, sorry this course is not for you.” Within that atmosphere the women racers did reasonably well with Misa Tamura, 44, of Ridgewood posting a 1:01:40 time (12th place overall) followed by Philadelphia’s Tina Morrison, 25, at 1:02:19 (13th overall) and third place went to Jennifer Kirsch, 40, of Manalapan at 1:04:30 (19th overall).
“It’s really tough,” said Tamura of the course,”because there are lots and lots of hills!” When asked if there were any part of the course that she liked the best she said, “Yes, the last part where you have a long decline and you can look out and see the water – and to our left is a golf course - I really liked that!”
Dawn Ciccone of Highlands finished at 1:18:37, even suffering from a healing but broken toe, and agreed with the others that, “The hills are always a challenge on this course but this year because of the previous rainy days there were a lot of washouts that we had to be careful of so we were ever having to be vigilant.”
Long Branch’s Marilyn Ryder, active member of the Jersey Shore Running Club was second in her age-group of 65-69 at 1:35:59. She offered her thoughts on the scenic parts of the course: “It’s mostly farm land and woods and when you’re running across the top, at eight miles, you can look out and see all of Sandy Hook, all Coney Island and all around the Leonardo naval station pier.”
“This is the hilliest and toughest race on the shore area even in comparison with the Brielle Hill and Dale 10K which comes a close second,” said Jim Bergum, 60, of Howell whose 1:23:04 racing time this year is over five minutes faster than last year’s time. Bergum serves as the webmaster of the Freehold Area Running Club.
Three-mile racers started with the 15Kers but were steered off to a shortened part of the main course that includes steep, very steep, Serpentine Road (many walk it). President of the Shore Athletic Club’s Walter MacGowan of Spring Lake finished at 25:24 and said, “I’m proud to say that this year I actually ran, not walked, Serpentine!” Tom Cawley, 50, of Hazlet, was the overall winner at 16:42 and the women’s winner was Ana Ferreira, 18, of Newark at 21:20 (6th overall).
The Croydon Hall gymnasium was the staging area for the event and it was here that the aforementioned winners and age-group leaders were given their trophy and plaque awards while enjoying refreshments of bagels, fruit and very delicious muffins.
“Im very pleased with the turnout - the volunteers are fantastic, Monmouth Conservation Foundation, the benefactor, was very cooperative, and many thanks to Middletown Recreation and to the Middletown Police for excellent traffic control,” said the very pleased director, Doug Rice, in summing-up comments. Rice has directed all twenty of the Indian Trails Races.“I sure am” was his final statement when asked if he were looking forward to directing next year.
Other Monmouth County leading finishers of the 15K hilly challenge: Jeff Propet 58:24:08, Wall; Brian Hill1:01:17, Middletown; Mike Managan 1:03:58, Howell; Bob Haithcock 1:05:30 and John Gore1:05:43, Middletown; Scott Linnell 1:05:45, Colts Neck; Christopher White 1:06:24, Wall; Melanie Bauman 1:06:30; Lisa Namath 1:06:44, Wall; Artie Buisson 1:06:56, Atl. Highlands; Paul Weber 1:07:19, Rumson; John D’Agostin1:07:56, Highlands; Mary Friedman 1:08:39, Fair Haven; Patrick O’Boyle 1:09:22, Atl. Highlands; Geoffrey Nicholas 1:09:38, Leonardo; James Cutrera 1:10:03, Middletown; Joseph Liberti 1:10:13, Howell; Joseph Pruscino 1:10:18, Hazlet; Gavin Docherty 1:11:06, Middletown; Cindy Spitz 1:11:18, Locust; Corinne Afanasew 1:12:06, Leonardo; Jack Archibald 1:12:24, Atl. Highlands; Cole Porter 1:12:29, Holmdel; John Kutner 1:12:30, Middletown; Brian Burlew 1:12:37, Freehold; Diane Rothman 1:12:59, Lincroft; Michael Anstadt 1:13:18, Atl. Highlands.