Woodbury Honors Browning Ross

BY JERRY NOLAN

WOODBURY, NJ--On March 28, the town of Woodbury held a 5K race in honor of Browning Ross, who died on April 27, 1998. The Browning Ross Classic 5K, one-mile race, and kids sprints were intended as a celebration of Browning's life-long dedication to the sport of long-distance running. His long and successful running career started at Woodbury High School and continued at Villanova University. Among his many accomplishments was participation in the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games. Browning is credited with the formation of the Road Runners Club of America, which is now forty-one years old.

The course, which began and ended at Woodbury High School, was actually 2.8 miles long. It went by Bell's Lake, which was the site of many of Ross's local races, past his home on Centre Street, and finished on the high-school track. A young bagpiper stood on a hill and played for the runners as they approached the finish line. Tom Thomasson, age 22, of National Park, NJ, led 303 runners to the finish line with his time of 14:30. James Mangan, age 23, of Ardmore, PA (14:39), and Larry Schemelia, age 25, of Chesilhurst, NJ (14:42), followed Thomasson to the finish line.

Taking top female honors was Lindsey Scherf, age 12, of Scarsdale, NY, whose time was 16:49. She finished in 22nd place. Finishing second and third, respectively were Jillian Stein, age 17, of Monmouth Jct., NJ (17:37), and Pamela Gess, age 30, of Somerdale, NJ (18:10).

The top Masters were Jim Ennis, age 42, of Lake Hiawatha, NJ (16:13), and Annamarie Klauden, age 43, of Somerdale, NJ (22:37). Ennis doubled up and also ran the one-mile race, which he won in a time of 4:53. Jillian Stein, who also ran both races, took top female honors in the mile with her time of 5:02.

Ross, who conducted hundreds of races during his lifetime, believed in extensive awards. This tradition was followed at this race in his honor with the distribution of medals, plaques, ribbons, mugs, merchandise, and finisher certificates to a comprehensive array of awardees.

During the award ceremony, John MacGillivray, New Jersey State Representative of the Road Runners Club of America, presented the first annual RRCA Browning Ross Award for Outstanding Leadership to the sport of long-distance running in New Jersey. Rose Marie Ross, widow of Browning Ross, accepted the posthumous award, made to Browning.

Over 400 runners participated in the 5K, mile, and kids sprints. Many volunteers from Woodbury High School, which Browning attended, Gloucester Catholic High School, where he coached, and from the local community were present as a tribute to Browning. Runners from a number of local colleges and universities, including Villanova, Haverford, and Rowan, were among the participants in the two races. Woodbury High School's facilities were used for registration, the awards ceremony, and the post-race pasta lunch.

Linda and Mark Toretsky, race directors, who put together the day's events, expressed satisfaction with the turnout on a cold day, and promised an even bigger and better event for the race in the year 2000. In addition to Mrs. Ross, Browning's children, and grandchildren attended and participated in the races. Proceeds from the races will be applied this year to the running programs of Woodbury High School, Gloucester Catholic High School, and the South Jersey Track Club.