27th Annual Giralda Farms Race
BY DEDE PAUL
MADISON, NJ--Runners, spectators, and organizers enjoyed a perfect fall running day at the 27th annual Giralda Farms Race at the Giralda Farms Corporate Park on November 13. Over 1,100 runners chose to tackle the hilly 5K or extra hilly 10K course. Another 50 or so youngsters ran the 3/4-mile fun run. Hosted by Rose City Runners, the race continues to provide top level competition for New Jerseys best runners as well as a festive fitness challenge for all. Youssef Rochdi of Parsippany and Elena Rozhko of Morristown were the overall male and female 10K winners, and New Jersey Masters 10K champion awards went to Thomas Yakowenko of Metuchen and Misa Tamura of Ridgewood. All four netted $200 for their wins. Francisco Sandoval from Suffern, New York and Laura Swift from Woodbridge were the fastest male and female 5K runners.
Many other prizes were awarded, including team awards for the popular parent/child categories, corporate and open teams, and the New Jersey USATF Masters team categories. Since adding the parent/child categories in 2007, non-USATF team participation has more than tripled to over 140 runners. All individual and team race results are available at www.compuscore.com.
While the Giralda Farms Race is always well executed, the club finds ways to improve the "customer experience" every year. Third year race co-directors--and club president and vice president--Cande Olsen and Lynda Brush are in continuous planning mode, generating ideas for making the 2012 race the smoothest running yet, even during this years event. Olsen notes: The race has a more intimate feel now that weve moved all of the pre-race activities and awards ceremony closer to the finish line. Brush lists other improvements such as creating a volunteer and information tent, increasing signage and speakers, posting individual and team results in easy-to-read spots, and improving finish-line logistics. The race directors are masters of organization, relying on a dozen volunteer captains who collectively manage over 125 volunteers. The work pays off and is appreciated by the racers, some of whom are moved to write heartfelt thank-you notes after the race. The entire club celebrates afterwards with a pot-luck dinner, where volunteers are recognized by accolades, T-shirts, and a commemorative mug.
Great organization is not the only reason that the Giralda Farms Race has evolved to become such a popular fixture on the local racing scene. With three races and a spectacular setting for cheering the runners, there is something for everyone. Beginning about a month before the race, the popular paved bike trail around Giralda Farms sports two large signs that invite local runners to enter the race that travels on the same path. And the long-sleeved race T-shirt boasts an elegant design without corporate logos. Tradition holds that the race directors choose each years shirt colors and keep the choice a secret until race morning--even from club members.
Runners are not the only beneficiaries of the race. Rose City uses race proceeds to fund two scholarships for Madison High School track athletes, in appreciation of their volunteer contributions on race day. The club also donates to local charities such as the Morris County Park Commission and the Madison Community House.
Rose City Runners, centered in Madison, is a diverse group of people bonded together by their enjoyment of running and socializing. Saturday morning runs, race dates, and parties foster friendships and make staying fit a lot of fun! Rose City attracts young and old from many surrounding towns, with running experience ranging from newbie to elite. Some members compete in races ranging from a mile to an ultra-marathon; others are happy to just jog and chat. Members support and celebrate each others goals. Hosting the Giralda Farms Run is one way that the club enjoys giving back to the running community. The club invites all running enthusiasts to join them for a Saturday morning run at the Loantaka Duck Pond, Kitchell Road in Morris Township. Routes varying from three to eight miles begin at 9 a.m. (8:30 during the summer), and all are welcome to stay afterward for a pot-luck breakfast with new friends.
1. Elena Rozhko 36:52
1. Francisco Sandoval 16:44
1. Laura Swift 19:28