ASBURY PARK, NJ - More than 2200 road racers comprised of 452 teams made up mainly of five members each, some had fewer, and the twelve single competitors of the Ironman/Ironwoman Category, that had just one racer, competed in the 14th annual Jersey Shore Relay from Seaside Heights to Asbury Park. The event, now entitled RunAPalooza which includes the Asbury Park Half Marathon and a 2-mile walk, is organized by the Jersey Shore Running Club (JSRC) to benefit Special Olympics of New Jersey (SONJ) and was held on the sunny, north-west windy but good-racing-weather (defying the forecast) of Saturday morning April 17.
With six staggered starting times, organized by JSRC member Jeri Hickey, beginning at 7:45 a.m. for the slower teams, thru 9:45 a.m., the Relay’s 26.2 mile (marathon distance), ocean-hugging, northbound course (into the northwest wind) begins at the Aztec Hotel in Seaside Heights. It has five legs ranging from 6 plus to 3 plus miles each, goes through 16 Shore area towns, of which the racers pass off their colored (determined by starting times) batons at Brick Beach, Point Pleasant Beach, Gee Gee’s in Manasquan, the fishing pier in Belmar, and finishes on the Asbury Park boardwalk next to Convention Hall which also serves as the award-presentation area and refreshment location.
Relay winners BPC
BPC at 2:25:46 (2 hours, 25 minutes and 46 seconds) was the winning team, representing the Overall category, made up of Joe Donahue and Dave Slavinsky (Captain) of Point Pleasant; Joe Rooney of Howell; Matt Kemple of Belmar.
Other Category winners with team names and racing time: School, Rutgers Roadrunners 2:33:45; Government, Coyote Red 2:44:58; Open (men), Northern Valley Old Tappan Track 2:46:06; Family, Point Break 2:54:43; Open (mixed), US and Cropp 2:56:33; Open (women), Irish Whiskey Runners 3:00:00; Corporate, Wakefern / Shoprite A 3:00:46; Masters (men), Sons of Beaches 3:03:35; Ironman, Mike Lynch 3:07:50; Police, Jersey City Police 3:09:42; Fire, Brielle Fire Company 3:19:39; Masters (mixed) ORC Skirts 3:24:56; Ironwoman, Katherine Perry 3:27:07; Club, Fatman’s Club 3:33:41.
The Asbury Park Half Marathon started on the boardwalk about ¼ mile south of Convention Hall at 8:30 a.m. Prior to the start, Phil Hinck reminded the racers of the unique course: all runners would proceed south on the boardwalk to Avon and there just before the Shark River bridge runners would have a choice of turning back for a three-loop course or continuing into Belmar, Spring Lake and Sea Girt to a turnaround, knowing that they could be delayed if the bridge were open to waterway travel. This year the bridge did not have to open.
Hinck then introduced Marc Edenzon of the Board of Directors of SONJ, a not-for-profit organization that provides sports training and athletic competition to children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Edenzon thanked the JSRC and the runners reminding them that their fees and pledges go toward supporting SONJ. Erin Sholl (Lady Southpaw, her stage name) of Brooklyn then sang a fine rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. Hinck then gave his usual loud “Ready, Set, Go” and the Half Marathon racers were off following the lead bicycle pedaled by Jeff Bierly of Fair Haven.
Alphonse Rispoli crosses the line
Five hundred runners finished the 13.1 miles ocean-viewing challenge and Alphonse Rispoli, 29, of Hoboken, was the one who broke the finish-line tape held by the Sheklian sisters of Manasquan, at a racing time of 1:25:31. He was followed by Patrick Lesniak, 23, of Toms River at 1:26:19 and third was Avon’s Matthew Nunnally, 40, at 1:28:37.
“It’s a beautiful course because of the scenery and I enjoyed the camaraderie and people cheering for us,” said Rispoli. When asked about the northwest wind he said, “I welcomed it because it made me push even harder.” He futher informed that this was the first time he’s ever raced in a half marathon.
Runner-up Lesniak disagreed with the champion regarding the weather: “I was out in front for the majority of the first three-quarters of the race then the wind just got to me and my pace dropped a little bit and that’s when he (Rispoli) took me. I tried to catch him but the wind was too much.” Both of these runners chose the longer course.
Stacy Meitzler crosses the tape.
Stacy Meitzler, 22, of Milan, PA, was today’s women’s champion of the Half Marathon at 1:32:38 (9th place overall). Coming in second and third, respectively, for the women were Audrey Sederberg, 25, of Princeton at 1:39:19 (17th overall) and Kristen Faughnan, 29, of Cheltenham,PA, at 1:39:21 (18th overall).
“I enjoyed the course very much, even though it was a three mile loop. I thought it was going to be repetitious, but the view was gorgeous and the crowd was very supportive,” said Mitzler when asked to comment.
The categories of ironmen and ironwomen mean that a runner is not a member of a team. He/she is a team of one and runs the whole 26.2 miles alone. Anthony Sciorrilli of Sea Girt was third finisher of 10 ironmen at a racing time of 3:30:07. Mike Lynch of Sparta was first at 3:07:59; Joseph Mauer of Brick was second at 3:12:29. Two ironwomen finished: Katheine Perry at 3:27:07 and Laurie Adams at 5:00:17. Both women are metropolitan residents: Katherine of New York, NY and Laurie of Philadelphia, PA.
Although Sciorilli was third, because of his early starting time in Sea Girt (26.2 miles away), he was the first ironman to cross the finish line in Asbury Park and therefore the timely one to be interviewed: “The course is good – it’s nice and flat – you got the boardwalk, you got the roads, a little bit of everything,” were his immediate thoughts. “We had about 20-miles an hour winds, the last six or seven miles of the race – before that the wind was fine,” he further offered.
The event included a 2-mile out-and-back Walk for Special Olympics that began at the boardwalk outside of Convention Hall, organized by Lawrenceville’s Heather Andersen, Senior Director of Corporate Development of Special Olympics of New Jersey (SONJ). Over 100 signed up for the walk.
Phil Hinck, along with associate and friend Fred Torres of Eliteracingsystems.com were busy with the sundry activities (including constantly asking spectators to clear the center of the boardwalk for the racers’ last 1/3 mile dash) at the finish-line clock located immediately south of Convention Hall. Also assisting in that area were JSRC members: Marilyn Ryder, Long Branch and her sister Bonnie Santomenna, Shrewsbury, along with other JSRC volunteers.
The aforementioned leading teams of the Relay were presented with commemorative gold batons for each member and the Half Marathon leaders were awarded RunAPalooza sweatshirts and bags by race director, Bob Both of Wall Township and Matt Dimon of Monmouth Univesity, both active members of the JSRC, on the stage of Convention Hall, while the approximately 3500 wilted racers (incuding the walkers and volunteers) were enjoying refreshments at the hall of the Convention Center, compliments of food chairman Jon Shipley. Monmouth Beach. Nestle was a big contributor with water donations from their Poland Spring Division. Power Bars and Pasta was also contributed by Serpico's of Allenhurst.
“I am very pleased with the outcome and am hopeful that when all the pledges are collected we will raise more than $80,000 and that will be added to the other years we collected, for a total of over $500,000 to benefit Special Olympics . I want to thank the Relay Committee, the New Jersey Southeast Elks Special Children’s Committee, all the bands who played along the course and at Convention Hall to include Lady Southpaw, Joe Hughes and Goldenseal. Also I appreciate the enthusiastic supporters in the towns along the course who welcomed and cheered the runners. It was terrific making this a true community event along the Jersey Shore of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Thank you to all the towns along the course who allowed us to run through their communities and their boardwalks and made every effort to make for a special day at the Jersey Shore for all the runners and spectators. I want, also, to recognize the many volunteers who assisted in the myriad activities necessary for conducting a racing event. The JSRC is proud to continue its support for Special Olympics,” said race-director Both, in an E-mail summary. Bob Both also serves as the Webmaster of the award-winning website (www.jsrc.org) of the club.
The Special Olympics brochure informs: “For more than 40 years, Special Olympics New Jersey (SONJ) has been part of a worldwide program of sports training and athletic competition for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Recognized by the International Olympic Committee, SONJ promotes global athletic leadership and is dedicated to the movement of empowerment and dignity. Its goal is to change attitudes within communities about intellectual disabilities of some and to emphasize potential ability and acceptance.”
Start of Asbury Park Half Marathon
Leading Herald area finishers of the Half Marathon: Craig Kolb 1:41:53, Fair Haven; Jeffrey Crowell 1:44:56, Little Silver; Michael Walsh 1:46:38, Red Bank; Dawn Ciccone 1:47:21, Highlands (her racing time qualified her for NY City and Boston marathons); Wade Davis 1:48:06, Fair Haven; Susan Schnell 1:51:10, Rumson; Whitney Boles 1:51:32, Belford; Christopher Andreach 1:51:54, Fair Haven; Russell Flynn 1:52:50, Middletown; John Lorenz 1:53:58, Fair Haven; Ismael Nibot 1:54:12, Middletown; Margaret Brautigam 1:56:09 and Nicholas Basarico 1:56:16, Red Bank; Stephen Szakats 1:57:28, Rumson; Harry Fessel 1:57:46, Middletown; Patricia Szakats 2:00:12, Rumson; Jill Welch 2:01:54, Middletown; Daniel Kane 2:08:02, Fair Haven; Kelly Wardak 2:08:44 and Martin Dugan 2:09:13, Middletown; Thomas Kaiser 2:09:28 and David Flaherty 2:10:43, Red Bank; Jean Masella 2:11:42, Little Silver; Jessica Alinsub 2:15:34, Highlands; Michael Hannigan 2:18:45, Middletown; Denise Swanzey 2:19:44 and Stephen Swanzey 2:19:45, Fair Haven; Cushing Condon 2:19:50, Rumson.
Other leading Monmouth County finishers of the Half Marathon: Justin Cabinian 1:34:20, Holmdel; Jim Dempsey 1:40:10, Manasquan; John Jankowski 1:40:22, Spring Lake Heights; Marty Fitzpatrick 1:41:55, Bradley Beach; Robert Galizio 1:43:33, Spring Lake Heights; Joe Anderson 1:46:16, Wall; Kimi Parkhill 1:47:01, Sea Girt; Rick Guarnaccia 1:47:09, Holmdel; Nicholas Pizzonia 1:47:12, Long Branch; Jillian Reichardt 1:47:17, Oakhurst; Debra Keating 1:47:19, Spring Lake; Monica Guarnaccia 1:47:40, Holmdel; Terry Coull 1:48:53, Manalapan; Katie Gallagher 1:49:14, Neptune City; Gilbert Santos 1:49:29, Long Branch; Bret Kaplan 1:49:53 and David Pierro 1:50:29, Manasquan; Davis Bambrick 1:50:53, Howell; Danny Lee 1:51:13, Oakhurst; Pegeen Kolbenschlag 1:51:36, Howell; Karri Lueddeke 1:51:52 and Michael O’Connell 1:53:48, Belmar; Kelley McCartney 1:56:03, Neptune City; Alane Mahoney 1:56:07, Spring Lake; Erica Goldberg 1:56:14, Englishtown; Conrad Renner 1:56:29, Howell; Paul Marmora 1:56:46, Ocean; Kristen Matak 1:57:33, Morgantown; Rosevelyn Medvigy 1:57:59, Keyport; Bob Peck 1:58:34, Howell; John McLoughlin 1:58:37, Neptune; Kevin O’Hear 1:58:44, Avon; Wendy McKnight 1:59:30, Wall; Tracy Chin 1:59:59, Holmdel; Caitlin Meseroll 2:03:07, Oakhurst.