Rochon Blasts Through Firecracker Five
BY JIM ROBBINS
WALL TOWNSHIP, NJ--A patriotic field of 353 road racers (43 more than last year), many of which garbed in red, white, and blue, as well as stars and stripes, began celebrating our nations 237th Independence Day on a cloudy, warm, and humid Fourth of July morning, by competing in Wall Township Recreations 24th annual Firecracker Five (mile) race.
After a recorded rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner by Cher, organized by Spin Doctor (Herbert [Butch] Watt, Neptune), who also provided motivational music, Fred Rummel--race director for all twenty-four yearsasked the assembled and ready-to-go racers, To please remain silent for a moment in honor of our military who have been and are now fighting for us to have the freedom to participate in a race such as this. He then gave a three-command start and the racers were off at 8:35, following the lead police vehicle driven by Sergeant Kenneth Brown of the Wall Township Police Department, and jockeying for positions. The 5-mile course starts in front of the Wall Township Municipal Center on Allaire Avenue, follows adjacent Roads of Campbell, Baileys Corner, and 18th Avenue for about four miles, finishing its remaining distance within the fifty acres of the well-manicured Center with its finish line on an access road.
Mark Rochon, 37, of Downington, PA, was the first to enter the finish-line chute, which was set up and organized, along with the other necessary equipment, by Eliteracingsystems.com. He was also the first to break the tape held by Patty Hancock, former president of the Ocean Running Club and Penny Hinck of the Jersey Shore Running Club (JSRC), and caused the digital clock to display a racing time of 27:21(one minute and 16 seconds faster than last years winning time). Coming in second place was Brian Kayser, 29, of Charlottesville, VA, at 29:58, followed by Pat Ford, 53, of Neptune City, at 30:20.
After about the first hundred yards, I took the lead, and kept it the whole way, said Rochon in describing his championship performance. Its a great course--its very well-marked--there are slight hills that allow you to utilize the different muscles in your legs, he said when asked. Of the weather, he offered that, At the start it was sunny and hot but about mile one it started to get overcast and for that I was very pleased. He further offered that, Just under 26 (minutes), was his fastest for this distance, but couldnt recall where or when.
Bronwayn Oleary, 38, of Cliffwood Beach was the first female finisher at 33:18 (11th place overall). Coming in second and third place respectively were hometown runner Denise Clark, 39, at 33:52 (13th overall, last years winner), and Amanda Scheer, 25, at 34:02 (15th overall).
Im really proud of my winning performance today because it was hot and humid out there, said Oleary when asked to comment. She was also thinking of a former student who is now overseas and that student gave her the inspiration she needed to become champion. Yes, she said when asked if she would be signing up for this event next year.
Race-walking is also a foot race but it is different from
running in that one foot must appear to be in contact
with the ground at all times. Race-walkers are on their honor
to follow that rule. This events race-walkers were John
Fredericks, 65, of Brick at 53:56; Fred Linkhart, 60, of
Oakhurst at 54:45; Panseluta Geer, 66, of Hazlet at 55:07;
Ray Robertson, 69, of Asbury Park at 57:45; Phyllis Wenslauskas,
65, of Silverton at 1:13:23.
Renzella would continue his Independence Day celebration by going to the picnic area at Monmouth Park racetrack where he would meet other members of Chapter Twelve of the Vietnam Veterans Association, and hopefully all wagers will be winners.
Its typical of Firecracker Five weather,
said Steve Foley, 57, of Oceanport who finished at 43:48, a respectable
8:46 per-mile pace. He further informed that typical means, hot
and humid. Foley took a short hiatus from directing
the annual Run Thru Deal in October, but last year the Deal fireman
was back at it and will also be directing this year. It is now
a 5K distance and is scheduled, as always, the Sunday before
This is the first time Ive ever done this race, but as Ive often heard, it sure is hot and humid, said Nancy Thorne of Long Branch who finished at 55:35. Nancy will continue directing the Michael Thorne Memorial Scholarship 4-Mile Run in West Long Branch to remember her fireman brother killed while on duty. It is always presented on the third Sunday in May.
Dave Demonico, champion runner, didnt compete, but decided to offer patriotic music by way of his trumpet, at about the three-mile mark, to his many running friends.
At the finish line, lending their expertise to the necessary activities, were Phil Hinck (Twice past-president of the JSRC), and his wife, Penny, along with John Cheer, Patricia Hancock, Gene Geer, and other club volunteers. All female finishers were given a rose by Debbie Adamchak, of Wall, recently retired English teacher of Raritan High School in Hazlet, while the male finishers got hand-held U.S. flags.
The event includes a 2-mile leisure walk and Kids Races.
Many government dignitaries were on hand to help Rummell
in the many activities of the Firecracker Five, including Deputy
Mayor Clint Hoffman, Committeeman Jeff Foster, and Committeewoman
Ann Marie Conte.
The race was very successful with the help of fire, police, and first-aid squads, and with all the sponsors (names were printed on the events T-shirt), that help with the financial support. I want to acknowledge the patience of local motorists who had to be detoured for the safety of the racers. Thanks to Fred and Anna Torres of the Elite Racing Systems for the computer results, and the many volunteers in moment to moment work, and to the runners/walkers-- without whom there is no Firecracker Five, said the obviously pleased, popular director, when asked to summarize the days activities.