RUMSON, NJ - Four hundred and thirty-one (not counting the Kiddie Dashes across the football field for the 2-to-5 years old) road racers (made up of 308 five miles and 123 three-kilometers distances) finished the 18th annual Rumson-Fair Haven Run on the very windy, cool, sunny, in-the-mid-50’s morning of May 9, on the 400-meter track in the stadium of the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFHRHS) located on Ridge Road, Rumson.
Dickson Mercer, 28, of Washington DC, (RFHRHS 2000 alumnus) was the first to finish the race from the rectangular course that starts on Ridge Avenue in front of the school, proceeds west to Fair Haven Road, onto River Road and returns to the school stadium. As he crossed the finish line and broke the tape held by Fair Haven Mayor Michael Halfacre and his 5-year-old son Marshall, the digital timing clock displayed 26:05 which means he raced the course in an impressive 26 minutes and 5 seconds, a 5:13 per-mile pace. Dan Abbato, 25, of Manahawkin was the distant runner-up at 30:25 and Fair Haven’s Ryan Corbett, 16, was third finisher at 30:33.
“There was a head wind out there but you can’t really complain about the weather because it was cool,” said Mercer when asked to comment. Today’s champion has a computer blog entitled: The Working (Marathon) Runner which informs: “I specialize in the marathon. My most recent result was 2:31:34 for 12th place at the Philadelphia Marathon.”
“No, not at all,” said runner-up Abbato when asked if he were ever out in front in the race. “Right from the start, he (Mercer) went out fast and there was no way I could catch him,” he added. “The wind was a huge negative factor but the rest of the weather was OK,” Abbato further offered.
Tina Morrison, 25, of Philadelphia, PA was the women’s winner at 30:59 (7th place overall) a 6:11 per-mile pace, followed closely by Jill Evarts, 44, Long Branch (8th overall). The third women’s finisher was Kate O’Hern Lyons, 46, Darien CT at 32:16 (11th overall).
“Yes, I’m very happy,” said Morrison when asked if she were satisfied with her performance. “I knew I wanted to go out and do a hard race for my mom (today being Mother’s Day) and I did.”
Runner-up Evarts responded humorously when she was asked, among the racers milling about the finish line area, if she came in second: “Yes, Mister Robbins, I did come in second but I was the ‘first’ old lady.” In commenting on the weather she said, “Luckily I had a group of runners in front of me that blocked the wind for me for the first mile.” She further informed that this was the first time she has run this race.
Webmaster of the Freehold Area Running Club, James (Jim) Bergum, 60, of Howell, was 4th of 10 in the 60-69 age group at 40:44. Only the top three leaders get age-group awards and they were earned by Harry Nolan, 63, Ocean Grove (formerly Navesink) at 32:11 (a speedy 6:02 per-mile pace); Tim Keane, 64, Asbury Park at 39:00; Dave Kaplan, 65, Ocean Grove at 39:42. Bergum’s friend, Richard (Dick) Hill, 73, of Middletown (progenitor of the Hill racing clan) was the winner of his 70 and over male group (five in all) at 40:36, an exceptional 8:07 per-mile pace, and the two of them were chatting at the finish area. When asked what they thought of today’s wind: “The wind wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be,” said Jim but Dick didn’t agree, “I thought it was pretty rough, especially the first couple of miles.” Most all of these mature runners, who know each other, along with their few octogenarian jogging acquaintances/friends, might agree with the famous quote of major league baseball’s Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson: “Life Is Not a Spectator Sport.”
Michael Foggia, 12, of Rumson was the overall winner of the 123 competitors of the 3K at 12:38. He was followed by Middletown’s Brian Hill, 10, at 12:43 and third place went to Jack Higgins, 11, of Fair Haven at 12:52. The top three females respectively: Emma Higgins, 13, of Rumson at 13:12 (7th overall); Alexandra Natsis, 13, of Little Silver at 13:27 (12th overall); Kiera Gannon, 15, of Lincroft at 13:59 (14th overall).
Awards to the aforementioned winners and trophies to age-group leaders were presented by emcee Alan Fendrick and Leslie Curran, race director, on the grounds of the stadium as the physically-spent racers were enjoying refreshments.
Prior to the 9:30 a.m. beginning of the race, Fendrick reminded all that this event is dedicated to Andrew J. Bruder who died of cancer at age 36. Bruder was a graduate of RFHRHS and the first winner of the Rumson Run that began in 1992. He informed that the event has raised over $300,000 for scholarships and then asked all the mothers in the race to give themselves a round of applause for this second Sunday in May being Mother’s Day. Next he introduced RFHRHS junior Austin Ryan who then gave a super rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner as the awaiting racers respectfully remained quiet, eyes on the flag at half-mast on the flagpole that is located on the front lawn of the school. Fair Haven’s Mayor Michael Halfacre was the official race starter.
Bananas, bagels, oranges were available courtesy of Foodtown of Red Bank and scrumptious cookies were provided by the committee of senior citizens headed by Dorothy Burlew. Patrick Hill a senior at RFHRHS, a member of the cross country team, provided motivational music. Best Racing System, based in central New Jersey, was responsible for the computerized scoring
“I'm very pleased with the outcome and want to thank all the volunteers who worked so diligently to make this event happen. I want to acknowledge the complete cooperation of the police force and fire department as well as EMS of both towns and appreciate too, the maintenance staff at the high school. I also want to thank the race committee and the many members of the JSRC for their know-how assistance, especially Phil and Penny Hinck. Not to be forgotten are our many sponsors whose generosity is well acknowledged. Thanks, too, for the patience of area motorists who had to be detoured for the safety of our racers,” said Leslie Curran, race director, in an E-mail summary statement.
Other Herald area leading finishers:
Rumson: Eric Glass 32:25 (age-group award winner), Steve Zacks 33:03 (award), Susan Flynn 33:13 (award), Jimmy Dengler 33:16 (award), Paul Weber 33:37, Blake Goodwin 34:30, Bob McGinty 35:29, Maria Moschitta 35:54, Maureen Keogh 36:15, Mike Shiels 36:32, Joseph Epstein 36:35, Henry Rosset 36:44, Doug Mallacy 36:45, Michael Hill 36:59, Kevin Hill 37:15, Chris Simon 37:16, Peter Lyden 37:21, Eileen Stern 37:30, Shannon Kirdner 37:39, Tommy Dengler 37:41 (award), David Cahill 37:43, Henry Manley 37:44 (award), Michele Craffey 37:58, Annie McGinty 38:05, Luann Hughes 38:08, Christina Durney 38:09, Michael Bailey 38:10, Richard Batting 38:14, Susan Drastal 38:21, Doug Newsome 38:22, Richard Maser 38:27, Maria Manley 38:30, Casey Shanley 38:31, Harry Kegelman 38:32, MaryKate Dengler 38:35, Jim Dengler 38:37, Trip Manley 38:39, Stuart Alderoty 38:51, Thomas Ridgway 38:53, Chuck Lowe 38:58.
Fair Haven: Patrick Witterschels 34:01 (award), John Iovino 34:08, Jack Maris 34:19, Doug Lindgren 34:36, Craig Kolb 35:00 (award), Mary Friedman 35:01, Kelly Wojciehowski 35:06 (award), Stephen Ham 35:43 (award), Hannah Anderson 36:45 (award), Scott Marchakitus 37:27, Donna Kostecky 37:28, Geoff Harrison 37:29, Tara Barnett 37:32, Meredith Weiss 37:33, Suzie Drummond 37:35, Leslie Curran 38:06 (race director), Anthony Sciametta 38:12, Fini Satzke 38:12, Catherine Satzke 38:18, Stephen Ham 38:28, Thomas Coles 38:38, Colleen Henrickson 39:08, Michael Garrison 39:09, Theresa Krause 39:10, Don Butler 39:11.
Others: Brian Hill 30:45 (award) and Bob Haithcock 33:10 (award), Middletown; Artie Buisson 33:16, Atl. Highlands; Geoffrey Micholas 33:56, Leonardo (award); Matt Reeve 34:44, Middletown; Greg Teeter 35:50 and Jeffrey Teeter 36:30, Little Silver; William Faverzani 37:37 and Allison Wagner 38:36, Red Bank; Regan Toomey 38:58, Leonardo; Richard Hill 40:36, Middletown (award); Tara Froehlich 40:59, Red Bank; Bridget Hillier 41:06 and Gregory Debersdorff 41:08, Little Silver; Tara Nicholas 41:28, Leonardo; Darren Gallagher 41:33, Belford; Neil Mortimer 42:07, Red Bank; Stephen Debersdorff 42:25, Little Silver.
Other Monmouth County leaders: Dave Hoch 32:05, Bradley Beach (award); Stephen Apostolacus 32:30, Asbury Park (award); Justin Cabinian 32:48, Holmdel (award); Ann O’Dowd 33:40, Colts Neck (award); Lisa Namath 33:41, Belmar (award); Jennifer Gunn 34:54, Matawan; Bob Szymanski 34:58, Spring Lake Heights; Carl Williams Jr. 35:00, Tinton Falls; Ken Marowitz 35:03, Long Branch; Robin Campbell 35:25, Matawan; John Crowley 35:26 and Maria Crowley 35:34 Holmdel; Bob Vandeboe 35:49, Oakhurst; Brian O’Dowd 35:52, Colts Neck; Chris Ferrone 35:58, Tinton Falls; Diane Rothman 36:11, Lincroft (award); Mike De Robbin 36:25, Long Branch; Tom Apostle 36:26, Freehold; Richard Macko 36:41, Matawan; Mike Gannon 37:16, Lincroft; Joey Santoro 37:22, Hazlet; Cara Sobieski 37:23, Wayside; Leslie McKeinan 38:02, Holmdel; Greg McGrade 38:38, Long Branch; C.J. Chippendale 38:52, Tinton Falls; Wendy Huntley 38:55, Colts Neck; Megan Manney 38:59, Long Branch; Chuck Rogers 39:03, Belmar.