Fear of the Pier 5k

BY JIM ROBBINS

LEONARDO, NJ -- Whereas many of us Monmouth County (NJ) residents have at some time or other seen the naval pier in Leonardo that juts into the Sandy Hook Bay, none but military personnel or their official civilian guests have actually traversed it. That's all changed now, at least once a year, for road racers anyway, with the inauguration of the Fear the Pier 5K Run on Saturday morning, June 26th.

David DeMonico, South River, champion of many area races: the Monmouth Beach 5K for one and the annual Bayshore Community Hospital five miler in Holmdel for another, proved again that he was up to this new one-way-on-the-pier 3.1-mile challenge. DeMonico was first to cross the finish line located at the bay end of the pier, but started at 8:30 a.m. at the parking lot of the Waterfront Complex in Leonardo, at a racing time of 16:25. "I'm not disappointed but I have done a 5K in under 15 minutes back in '92 or '93," said the 31-year-old DeMonico when asked to comment on his winning performance.

Janice Rein, 37, also of South River, at 19:58, 7th place overall, was the first woman to finish the two-lane-roadway pier course that had a western breeze at the 98 competitors' backs, which, along with high humidity and temperatures in the 80s, gave reason for Rein's comment on the race: "Hot, it was hot." Of the course, Rein offered, "You could see the finish line for a long, long time." Penny Hinck, 23:37, from Long Branch, active member of the Jersey Shore Running Club, similarly concluded, "You don't feel like you're moving at all; you look out and everything is the same."

Middletown's Gene Chase (award winner) who at 62 did an amazing 19:36, 6th place overall, had a positive comment for the nearly three-mile straightaway, "Fast*it was a fast course." But general comments heard at the finishing area agreed about the weather*it was hot.

David Dickson, 17:49, Lincroft, recent winner of the Freehold Area Running Club's evening 5K series, was second overall, and Dana Ehret, 17:58, Spring Lake, third. Grace Rosa, 20:49, Long Branch, was second for the women, 9th overall, and Linda Puzzo, 21:33, Keansburg, was third and 19th overall.

Trophies and long-sleeved T-shirts were awarded to these top three male-female winners, with baseball caps presented to age-group leaders by race organizer, Lt. Pete LeHardy, at the award area located near the finish line. Busses were nearby, ready to transport the racers back to the starting area. "I am very pleased with the turnout for a first-time race," offered Mike Brady, public relations director, confirming that the Fear the Pier 5K, which is part of the Naval Weapons Station annual weekend Summerfest, will become an annual event. The beneficiary is MWR, an organization dedicated to Navy personnel and their families' morale, welfare, and recreation while at sea. Computer race results and finish-line activities were by Bill Boyajian, proprietor of Best Racing System.