WALL, NJ - A patriotic field of 285 road racers, many garbed in red, white and blue as well as stars and stripes, began celebrating our nation’s 234th birthday on a sunny, warm but not humid, good-racing-weather Fourth of July morning, by competing in the Wall Township Recreation’s twenty-fist annual Firecracker Five (mile) race.

After a recorded rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner by Cher, organized by Spin Doctor (Herbert [Butch] Watt, Neptune), Fred Rummel, race director for all twenty-one years, asked the assembled and ready-to-go racers, “to please remain silent for a moment in honor of our military who are fighting for us to have the freedom to participate in a race such as this.” He then gave a three-command start and the racers were off at 8:35, following the lead vehicle driven by Patrolman Todd Kazanowski of the Wall Township police, and jockeying for positions on the 5-mile course that starts in front of the Wall Township Municipal Center on Allaire Avenue, follows adjacent roads for about four miles and finishes its remaining distance within the fifty acres of the well-manicured Center with its finish line on an access road.

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Start of Firecracker 5.  photos by  www.jerseyshorepics.com

Brian Kayser, 26, of Charlottesville, VA was the first to enter the finish-line chute, set up and organized, along with the other necessary equipment, by Fred and Anna Torres of Eliteracingsystems.com and cause the digital clock to display a racing time of 28:30 (28 minutes and 30 seconds). He was followed by hometowner Jeff Propert, 29, at 29:33 and third place went to James Nolan, 47, of Collegeville, PA at 30:46.

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Brian Kayser crosses the finish.

“I was running with the second-place finisher for about 2 ½ miles then I made an extra effort and from then on I was out in front to the finish,” said Kayser in describing his championship performance and further added that this 28:30 racing time could be his PR (personal record). His singlet racing shirt had Shore Athletic Club printed on it and he pointed out he was “glad and proud” to be a member of that running/racewalking club.

Whereas it was a two-minute and 16 seconds spread between the men’s first and third finishers of this Independence Day popular race, only 24 seconds separated the women’s top three finishers: Amy Nalven, 31, of Brick was first at 33:01 (11th place overall); Lisa Namath, 37, of Wall was second at 33:15 (14th overall) and Barbara Feinstein, 43, of Morganville was third woman at 33:25 (15th overall).

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Amy Nalven crosses the finish.

“Since about three miles” said Nalven when asked at what point she went out in front and also offered that the course was “nice – it had a few hills and there was some welcome shady parts.” She said, “It was 30:45 on this course two years ago,” when asked her best time for this distance. “For me it was a bit challenging because it was hilly,” said runner-up Namath who appreciated the spray from the sprinklers offered by the residents as well as their encouraging cheering. “No, I knew that she (Nalven) had that little bit of extra energy that I did not have,” said Feinstein when asked if she tried to catch the leading woman and added that “I like the course – it was challenging with the hills.”And of the weather, she said, “It was warm but no surprise, we expected it.”

John Fredericks, Brick was the first racewalker at 53:06 followed Ray Robertson of Ocean at 57:38 and Victor Martinez of Perth Amboy at 1:02:05, respectively.

The women’s racewalk champion was Isabel Muldrum of Point Pleasant at 1:08:26. “I’m very happy with it because I’m only back training two months,” she said when asked her thoughts on her race time.  Muldrum has served the running/racewalking community by being president of both the Shore Athletic Club as well as the Freehold Area Running Club. She recalls and is proud of racewalking a 100K (100 kilometers) out in the Midwest over a decade ago in which she earned an award and that distance for many who are unfamiliar with the metric system is 62 miles!

Steve Foley, Oceanport, finished at 39:38, good for a 7:56 per mile pace and concluded that his racing time was not to his liking but “Just fair” because as he says, “I came out looking to run under 39 (minutes) and I got way over it.” And he was fourth in his 50 to 54 age group so since prizes are only awarded to the top three, he missed out there too. Foley is well known among the Shore area racers for his being the director of the annual October race of the Run Thru Deal, for at least two decades, but unfortunately informs that he no longer will be at the helm of that 5K (formerly 5 Miles, until 3 years ago) event. He will be missed.

“I was absolutely thrilled with it,” said Manalapan’s Ralph Garfield, 74, when asked his thoughts on his racing time today which was 42:07 and an 8:26 per-mile pace. And “thrilled” he should be he took first-place award in the 70-99 age group. “The organizers get my congratulations – I think they did a terrific job.” Others that followed in that very mature age group: Olie Nelson, 74, Farmingdale at 47:39;  Joseph Placente, 78, Toms River at 1:07:00 (see below);  Fred Howleet, 71, Brick at 1:08:50;  Pete Semple, 79, Spring Lake at 1:08:58;  Hal Smith, 80, Freehold at 1:09:36, Elliott Denman, 76, West Long Branch at 1:09:59 (racewalker).

Former vice-president of the Freehold Area Running Club, Maggie Freeman, of Manalapan, finished at 35:13 and won second place award in her 40 to 44 age group and offered some comments: “I did it as a training run – I did 18 yesterday (ran 18 miles) - I’m training for an Ironman in four weeks.” Encyclopedia informs of the Ironman race: 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a marathon run, 26 miles and 385 yards, raced in that order and without a break. Good luck Sergeant Freeman of the Manalapan Police Department.

Tinton Falls’ Matt Shafer, director of the annual CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) 5K for abused children that is presented in Ocean Township at Joe Palaia Park in the spring, was awarded 2nd place prize in his 35-39 age group by finishing at 34:01, a highly respectable 6:49 per-mile pace. He offered some comments: “I was very pleased with my racing time and just had a lot of fun – it was a beautiful day and a lot of our friends from the Jersey Shore Running Club are here and it’s a well-organized race that Fred (race director) puts on every year for the community. One of the many slogans Shafer has at his CASA race is “Children Should be Seen and Heard.”

Joe Renzella, 67,  Neptune City, a highly decorated Vietnam veteran with four Bronze Stars (two with Valor) and a Purple Heart who also has a CIB (Combat Infantry Badge)  wearing his Team Freedom shirt, usually wins an award in his age group. But today he chose to run with his friend from Toms River Joe Placente, 78, a Korean veteran, dressed in stars and stripes, who with Renzella’s help ran the whole five miles carrying a 3’x 5’ Stars and Stripes flag atop a 6-foot pole.“Absolutely,” both veterans said when they were asked if they were glad they made this exhausting effort and both added a final comment: “God Bless America.”

Renzella would continue his Independence Day celebration by going to the picnic area at Monmouth Park racetrack where he will meet other members of Chapter Twelve of the Vietnam Veterans Association and hopefully all wagers will be winners.

“A beautiful day and no major problems – every thing went smoothly,” said Committeeman Jeff Foster spokesman for the Wall Township First Aid and Rescue Squad when asked to comment on the day’s emergencies.

At the finish line lending their expertise to the necessary activities were Bob Hyer and Tom Wendel past-presidents of FARC and Phil Hinck, past-president (twice) of the Jersey Shore Running Club and director of the upcoming Belmar Five Johnny Cobb Memorial Run, among others.  All male finishers received a hand-held American flag and the female finishers were given a rose by Debbie Adamchak, of Wall, English teacher at Raritan High School in Hazlet, and Penny Hinck, wife of Phil, who knows most everything, and many veteran racers would agree, about the details of organizing a road race.

The event includes a 3.5-mile leisure walk and a 1-mile Fun Run that gets underway prior to the start of the Firecracker Five run. Twelve-year-old 7th grader Brandon Parrado of Weehawken won the mile at 7:52. “It’s pretty good for me,” he said.

Kids Races, presented the evening before on the soccer field for ages 4 to12 with distances of 50 yards to 440 yards, are also part of this annual event.  So with all the Firecracker Five activities, many governmental dignitaries were on hand to assist Rummel. Being available for some or all of these Wall Township activities were Mayor George K. Newberry, Deputy Mayor Ann Marie Conte and Committee Members Jeffrey W. Foster, Clinton C. Hoffman, Todd W. Luttman, Sheriff Shaun Golden, Neptune City Mayor Thomas Arnone.

Rummel awarded sweatshirts and trophies to the aforementioned winners and age-group leaders at Bar Anticipation in Belmar where a buffet was offered to the hungry racers.

“The race was very successful with the help of fire, police and first-aid squads and with all the sponsors that help with the financial support. I want to acknowledge the patience of local motorists who had to be detoured for the safety of the racers. Thanks to the many volunteers in moment to moment work and to the runners/walkers without whom there is no Firecracker Five,” said the obviously pleased, popular director, when asked to summarize the day’s activities.

Other leading finishers of the Firecracker Five:

Wall Township: Sean Woodrow 33:40,  Louis Malizioso 33:41,  Jason Watt 34:15,  Billy Bachbinder 34:53,  Christopher White 34:56,  Chuck Rogers 35:38,  Keith Repack 36:21,  Bryan Dempsey 36:51,  Katie Buchbinder 37:10,  Kevin Kozlowski 37:58,  Joe Anderson 39:08,  Meghan Becht 39:11,  John Cheer 40:04 (active member of JSRC),  William Decroso 40:16,  Daniel Napoliton 40:17, Tim Harrington, 40:18,  Mark Russo 41:44,  Joe Campi 43:07,  Carly Depolo 44:40,  Charlie Muller 45:11,  Adam Puharic 45:49,  Karen Campi 46:14,  Cheryl Campi 46:15,  John Reiff 47:02,  Howard Buchbinder 47:26,  Jeff Cryan 47:32,  Mary Buchbinder 47:48,  Bob Kasinow 47:57,  Jeffrey Kniffin 47:59,  Ocbette Farrell 49:23,  Valerie Saeger 49:49.

Event-area: Ed Alburtus 32:45 and Richard A. Brugger Jr. 33:48, Neptune City;  Kathy Kropke 34:48, Avon;  Brian Rath 34:57, Neptune;  Marty Fitzpatrick 36:11, Bradley Beach;  John McLoughlin 36:16, Neptune City;  Oswald Bedward 38:57, Neptune;  Scott Parker 39:13, Neptune City;  Eileen Kean 40:13, Ocean Grove;  Frank Gousman Jr. 40:18, Bradley Beach;  Frank di Lello 40:56, Ocean;  Perry Neare 41:10, Ocean Grove;  Steve Surman 41:20, Tinton Falls;  Douglas Donaldson 41:50, Ocean Grove;  Chris Circelli 42:23, Shark River;  Thomas Dayback 45:06, Ocean;  Roger Smith 46:29, Belmar;  Craig Seba 46:53, Tinton Falls;  Gary Engelstad 48:18, Bradley Beach;  Lynne Koller 48:23, Wanamassa;  Bill King 49:00, Lake Como;  Jacqueline Wheeler 50:17, Belmar;  Reinaldo Rios 52:52, Ocean;  Colleen Neary 53:14, Lake Como;  Vretona Elbrecht 54:36, Ocean.

Herald area finishers: Mark McGuigan 32:53, Fair Haven;  Paul Deykerhoff 39:01, Little Silver;  Linda Puzzo 40:07, West Keansburg;  Frank Pugliese 45:57, Pam Allen 47:56 and Matt Walsh 48:28, Red Bank;  Edith Cunningham 55:27, Belford.

Other Monmouth County leading finishers: Sesan Rath 31:38, Lincroft (5th place overall);  Matthew Jacobson 32:15, Marlboro;  Billy Drew 32:29, Spring Lake;  Doug Twyman 32:34, Sea Girt;  Scott Linnell 33:05, Colts Neck;  Kenneth Coles 34:38, Howell;  Bob Flannery 34:46 and Daniel O’Henry 35:02, Manasquan;  Martin Veilleux 35:09, Holmdel;  Michael Walter 36:10, Eatontown;  Lennon Cooper 36:18, Holmdel;  Lauren Wiemken 36:19, Howell;  Scott Jennings 36:33, Kathleen Dailey 37:21, Carlye Destefano 37:39 and Melissa Mazza 38:47, Manasquan;  Wes Erbe 40:02, Brielle;  Michelle Rauls 40:06, Long Branch;  Joseph Tarigo 40:20, Sea Girt;  Michael Baldasare 40:27, Farmingdale;  John Mrowicki 40:37, Manasquan;  Amber Joule 40:38, Sea Girt;  Dave Pettit 40:54, Manasquan;  David Gross 41:02, Morganville;  Dallas Hlatsky 41:32, Matawan;  Mary Lyons 42:01, Sea Girt;  Maria Lehman 42:08, Elberon;  James Bergum 42:24, Howell (webmaster, FARC);  Kevin Swan 43:01, Freehold;  Lizabeth Wiemken 43:22, Howell;  Doug Hazard 43:51, Manasquan;  Kathleen Molyneaux 43:53, Sea Girt;  John Brennan 43:57, Daniel Galvin 44:03 and Brittany Bannick 44:13,  Spring Lake (134th overall).

Organized racing continues with the Belmar Five Mile Run (Johnny Cobb Memorial Run) on Saturday, July 10, at 8:30 a.m.info call 732-571-2162 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – (Kids Races for this event the night before at 6:30 pm at the park across from Taylor Pavilion. On-site registration starts at 5 p.m.).  In Highlands on July 11 is the Nike Bunker Loop 5K Challenge at 7:30 a.m., info call 732-578-1771 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  It’s the Neptune City Day 5K on August 7 at 8 a.m., info call 732-776-7224 x 27 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..