Celtic Tribute 5K Remembers Fallen Officers
BY PENNY HINCK
LONG BRANCH, NJ--For twenty-four years, with a one-year hiatus, the Jersey Shore Running Club has presented a Spring 5K and on Easter Saturday morning, April 4. It continued as it has done recently with the title now being the Celtic Tribute 5K. It will benefit the scholarship fund of Patrolman Benevolent Association Local 10 in memory of all its Fallen Officers.
The out-and-back course, a 3.1 mile distance, started at the north end of the Long Branch oceanfronts Promenade, went south onto the Pier Village boardwalk, then continued onto Ocean Avenue to a three-street turnaround, and returned to finish at the Long Branch Great Lawn area.
Mathew Weissinger, 28, of Northampton, Massachusetts was this years winner at 16:06. Coming in second place of the total 219 competitors was Darien, Connecticuts Eric Boucher, 42, at 17:07; and third place, on this windy mid-fifties morning, went to John Jankowski, 39, of Point Pleasant, at 17:14.
Weissinger, who runs with the Western Mass Distance Project, is a Brick, New Jersey native and was Central Jersey Group IV 3200 champion his senior year at Brick Memorial High School.
The top male police officer finishers were Luis Maldonado 19:13, Saint Jo, TX, US Navy; Greg Martone 20:45, Wall, of Ocean Twp Police; and from Long Branch PD Vincent Roselli 22:07, Long Branch; Joshua Bard 24:15, Oakhurst; and Eric Wettermark, 24:23, West Long Branch. The top female police officer was Long Branch PDs Heather Valdes 27:40.
US Navy PD was the best represented Law Enforcement Agency and Long Branch Police Local 10 was presented the award for the Best Represented PBA.
I just love this course, said Long Branchs Nancy Thorne, who finished at 28:57--a respectable 9:20 per-mile pace. Its like so many races were lucky to have with the ocean as our beautiful scenery; and some of the courses have lakes to go along with the ocean. Thorne is referring to the summer oceanfront events such as the Spring Lake Five Mile Run which includes Lake Como; the Belmar Five Mile Run which also includes that same lake and Silver Lake too; the Avon 5K that has Sylvan Lake; the Bradley Beach 5K has that same lake and Fletcher Lake to boot. When Nancy is not running these picturesque ocean/lake races, she will be directing the annual memorial Michael Thorne Scholarship Run in West Long Branch (always presented on the third Sunday in May). It is a rare 4-mile run, which in contrast to this event, meanders through the many well-paved, well-policed streets among manicured lawns of the town and honors the memory of her fireman brother, Michael, who was killed while on duty.
Highly decorated Vietnam veteran, with four Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart, Joseph Renzella, 73, of Neptune City, finished at 32:39. He said of the weather: Going out the wind was with us, but coming back it was a bit rough.
Olie Nelson 31:07, Farmingdale; Renzella; John Donoghue 33:23, Howell; Jeffrey Kassover 36:18, Pompton Lakes, NJ; Sandra Risley 38:40, Whiting; Frank Bergson 39:53, Whitehouse Station, NJ; James Dykstra 42:53, Brick: all are septuagenarians (seventy-year-olds) and probably agree with the famous quote attributed to Jackie Robinson of Major League Baseball Hall of Fame: Life Is Not A Spectator Sport.
Ocean Townships Bob Hayes, 64, who has supported the race since its inception, was registered for this years event, but he ran elsewhere on race day. The 3.1 miles is a mile and a tenth more than Hayes does every day of his life; 365 days a year and 366 on leap year. He started this everyday two-mile exercise on February 13, 1982 because he was determined to lose weight and he liked to run. The one time in all those 31 years that he had a medical appointment, he did his two miles first and then did what the doctor ordered.
The names of the Fallen Officers as mentioned above are printed on the ice-grey T-Shirts of the event. They are: Patrolman Herman Emmons End of Watch 12 -17 1921; Patrolman William Richards End of Watch 10 23 1967; Sergeant Patrick King End of Watch 11 20 1997.
Many at the starting line recalled former PBA delegate and race committee member Scott Beavers inspirational words from the 2013 running: "As you remember our Fallen Officers, take comfort in recalling that they dedicated their lives to Honor, Duty and Courage. Such a life is truly rich. Take strength in knowing that when an officer falls our resolve to serve those in need is not diminished; our dedication to protecting those in danger is not weakened; our commitment to remembering those with whom we shared the badge does not fade. Godspeed brothers: you fought the good fight. Now rest in peace. "
Then Hinck gave a three-command start and the racers were off following the lead police motorcycle. Following the race, awards of custom green-and-white coffee mugs were presented at the Long Branch Great Lawn band shell to the aforementioned winners and age-group leaders by Hinck, assisted by JSRC Board Member Penny Hinck. PBA delegate David Graminski thanked the racers and presented awards for performances by law enforcement officers. Prizes were offered at random due to the generosity of the local business community, including the main prize of a JSRC blanket and $50 restaurant gift card.
I want to recognize the race-day volunteers who contributed their time and effort in making the race successful; especially my wife Penny who really does all the work on race day. I especially want to thank the City of Long Branch and public works department for opening the park with water and electricity getting ready for another great year of events. We were also fortunate to have a unique course with orange barricades providing a chute almost the entire way. The Torres family of www.eliteracingsystems.com did the computerized results, with John Kuhi handling course clocks. The event has been successful every year held since 1990 due to the help of our sponsors and community support and we hope to continue doing it for such great non-profits and grassroots organizations," said Phil Hinck in an E-mail message.
Many thanks also go out to Scott Beaver, Long Branch police officer who has dedicated his time and efforts as a race-committee member for many years and recently retired from the force. Of course, the race could not exist without the support of many of our long time sponsors: Celtic Cottage Pub, McLoones, Fanagle the Bagel, Stop & Shop of West End, New Jersey Natural Gas, South Seventh Business Park, David J. DeFillippo, Esq. PBA Attorney, and Jack's Ribs & Ale.