HOLMDEL, NJ - A sorority of 250 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 25th Anniversary Saturday in the Park Women's 5K, on the perfect-racing-weather morning of September 1. The event’s purpose is for “Women Taking Steps to Help Women” and is organized by the Jersey Shore Running Club (JSRC). Overcast skies were a welcome sight after pre-race forecasts of a rainy start for Labor Day Weekend.
After a fine rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, by Maya Jacoby of Long Branch, 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.
Catherine Wimmer, 16, of Little Silver was first into the finish-line chute and broke the finish-line tape held by director Hinck of Monmouth Beach and Jennifer Bauer, of race beneficiary Providence House, in a racing time of 20:06 (twenty minutes and 6 seconds). Middletown’s Kathleen Shay, 17, was today’s runner-up at 20:13 and third place went to Julia Tambaro, 16, of Fair Haven at 20:44. All racers received a commemorative visor (pink to the top 50 racers, purple to others) and sport towel as they finished.
Wimmer, a standout on the Red Bank Regional Cross Country and Track Teams, is no stranger to winning races. She wowed the running community five years ago at age 11 she was first female at the Little Silver 5K, breaking 20 minutes for the distance.
As first Jersey Shore Running Club member to cross the line, fourth finisher Dianne DeOliveira was awarded the Mary Conry Memorial Award, and is also a frequent runner at the event. “This is a race my team (The Bellas) and I continue to do year after year because it raises awareness about domestic abuse and supports programs for victims and their children” she shared in post-race comments. “It's also nice seeing the younger female runners participate in a race for such an important cause. It's always well-organized and the volunteers do an excellent job. We can't wait for next year!"
The "bowl" is the popular area of this annual event and that's where all 250 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, accompanied by faithful beagle Ralph.
"The park rangers did a fabulous job of getting the park ready for us," said Marilyn Ryder, 77, of Eatontown, mother of the race's director who finished first in her age group running 33:58.
Lauren Rhatigan of Ship Bottom, finished in 56th place at 26:52 a 8:39 per mile pace good for third place in her age group. "The most difficult part of this race is trying to keep up with the youngsters," said Rhatigan.
Nancy Thorne, of Long Branch who was the director of the annual Michael Thorne 4-Mile Scholarship Run in West Long Branch to honor her fireman brother who was killed while on duty, finished at 39:00, 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 bright singlet that she and twenty seven 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., Phil Hinck, race committee member and past 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 Chuck Whelan, a former race director of the event and past JSRC president, who lost his life twelve years ago after a long, heartbreaking illness, in recognition of their dedication to the JSRC and to Saturday in the Park.
Hinck then introduced Jennifer Bauer, of Providence House, race committee member, who offered appropriate remarks that fit in with the main reason for this event: Women Taking Steps to Help Women.
“As you are running the 5K today, and reach a point that is challenging, where you may want to stop, think of the mother who has to leave her house in the middle of the night to keep her and her kids safe and she feels like she can’t go on and she leaves with just the clothes on her back. As you push on, and you will, know that you are doing it for her and others like her!”
Jacoby then gave an inspirational rendition of our National Anthem, and then the racers were off on their Saturday in the Park morning adventure.
Old Bridge’s Jim Buckler, past JSRC President, acted as emcee for the awards ceremony. Penny Hinck and JSRC member Lorraine Buckler awarded certificates, framed Anniversary Posters, hats and tote bags to the aforementioned winners as well as age-group leaders and other special achievers near the tree-lined race finishing area. Red Bank Regional Cross Country Team was recognized as the best represented High School Team.
Unique to this event is a team competition for Mother/Daughter and Sister/Sister pairings, with 22 such teams entered. Mya and Kerry Ostermiller of Red Bank won the Mother/Daughter division, followed by Lincroft’s Catherine and Elisabeth Kratka, in second place and Grace and Jennifer Heaton, Atlantic Highland’s, in third. The top three Sister/Sister teams were Middletown’s Kathleen and Rosemary Shay, repeat winners in this category, Courtney and Danielle Stanton, of Montville, and Mia and Cassie James, of Tinton Falls.
Gifts were offered at a random drawing, due to the generosity of the business community. The main gift was a cruiser bike, courtesy of JSRC Members Jack and Diane Cheer of Wall, which was won by Karen Kelly of Oceanport.
"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 24th running of the event, and look forward to next year's running. 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 organizations 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 continued for many years 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 $230,000 and has created public awareness of options and services available to women. Beneficiary organizations for the 2018 include Providence House of Catholic Charities in Ocean County, and women’s charitable organizations in Monmouth County. Sponsors of the 2018 running include Damien Fertility Partners, Friends of the Spring Lake Five, Jersey Shore Grand Prix, Monmouth Medical Center Foundation, New Jersey Natural Gas Company, Monmouth County Police Chiefs Association, Assemblyman Sean Kean, Two River Community Bank, Food Circus, Kenney Gross Kovats & Parton, MacGowan Agency, Shore Athletic Club, Waxing the City and Windmill Restaurants.
Over 110 dedicated volunteers were available for the myriad activities of putting on an event such as this and among them, were cadets from the Colts Neck High School NJROTC, and 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 several youngsters participated.
Complete list of event finishers can be found at www.saturdayinthepark5k.org. Photos for the event can also be found on the website, courtesy of Michael Berry.
Holmdel finishers of their championship course of Holmdel Park with their racing time: Rebecca Fink, 27:21; Jaclyn Campis, 27:31; Morgan Marjaman, 28:47; Candace Wolkovitz, 29:36; Catherine McCarthy, 31:24; Anne Fink, 33:32; Janice Petretti, 34:46; Martha Levinson, 47:16; and Diana Zirino, 59:10.
Road-racing events continue and schedules can be found on these websites: www.jsrc.org and www.farcnj.com.
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 Tuesday, 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.