Weatherill, Ward Repeat
BY JERRY NOLAN
WOODBURY, NJ--It was fitting that the two overall winners of the 7th annual Benjamin-Ross Memorial 5K, held on June 3, would have a Browning Ross connection. For the fourth consecutive year, top race honors went to Kevin Weatherill, age 22, of Swedesboro, NJ, whose time was 15:41. Kevin has just finished four years of running track and cross-country for Bucknell University and will complete his NCAA eligibility while attending graduate school there. He began his running career while participating in Ross's summer and winter series. Taking top female honors, in 18:47, was Emily Ward, age 18, of Woodbury, who repeated her win from 2000. Emily, who now runs for Richmond University, formerly attended Gloucester Catholic High School, where Browning was a track coach. All of the race awardees received plaques or medals. In addition, Weatherill and Ward were presented with clocks mounted on hand-crafted wood, containing a running motif. These were contributed by the Ross family.
The annual Benjamin-Ross Memorial 5K began in 1995, on the 50th anniversary of WWII. It was initially named in honor of PFC George Benjamin, who was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. When Browning Ross, who was one of the original race organizers, died in 1998, the race was renamed to honor both men. Benjamin first introduced Ross to running in neighborhood races in Woodbury. Ross went on to become a two-time Olympian and founder of the Road Runners Club of America, which now has more than 200,000 members.
The Ross family was represented at this year's race by his two daughters, Bonnie and Barbara, and several grandchildren. The 5K course, which was originally designed by Ross, took the runners past the Ross home on Centre Street. Race proceeds benefited the scholarship funds named for both men. In addition, race officials announced that plans include the creation of a suitable memorial for Ross in Woodbury. Following the race, the annual Main Street All Day Block Party, sponsored by the city and local merchants, took place. It all had a small town feel to it, with the race starting and ending at the local Army-Navy store.