GOTR 5K IS UNDERWAY!

Rhatigan, Riley Win Challenging Hashathon

BY JIM ROBBINS

OLD BRIDGE TOWNSHIP, NJ--Presented by the Rumson Hash House Harriers in concordance with the Jersey Shore Running Club (JSRC), 326 stalwart racers competed in the 32nd annual running of the Hashathon, a rugged, tough, challenging, six-mile trail race through the woods of Middlesex County’s Cheesequake State Park, on a cloudy, a bit breezy, 60 degrees, good–racing–weather Sunday morning of November 13.
 
Tim Riley, 24, of North Brunswick was the winner and broke the finish-line tape, held by JSRC’s Penny Hinck and Charlotte Griggs, wife of race director Mark, from the course that starts and finishes in the vicinity of the main pavilion of the Park, and is described in the event’s circular as a “run through winding wooded trails, steep gullies, foot bridges, small streams, fallen trees, varmints, dramatic cedar forest & beautiful wetlands,” at a racing time of 42:37. The digital racing clock that displayed that time was attended to and provided by John Kuhi, veteran runner and coach in the Shore area and long-time member of the Shore Athletic Club, with help from John Cheer, active member of JSRC.
 
Rounding out the top-three finishers were Gary Wersinger, 54, of West Long Branch at 42:51 (becoming active after a six-year hiatus) and Joe Pawlish, 39, Haverford, PA at 43:51 (last year’s runner-up).
 
“ I took the lead soon after we came off the lake and I stayed out in front the rest of the way,” said Riley in describing his performance. “Easily more challenging than a road race can ever give you,” said the Trail’s champion when asked to compare a trail race with a road race. “Here, right here at this event—I’ve been coming here often and I wouldn’t miss it,” he further offered when asked what he liked best.
 
“Definitely not a walk in the park!” exclaimed runner-up Wersinger when asked his thoughts on the course, and likes a trail run because “I like being out in nature.”
 
Lauren Rhatigan, 48, of Ship Bottom, runner-up for the past two years, was the women’s champion at 49:12 (9th place overall) followed by Howell’s Kellee Hand, 23, at 50:47 (15th overall) and third place woman was Heather Fraebel, 15, of Whitehouse Station at 51:22 (21st overall).
 
“Like I’ve told you before, Jim, it’s like apples and oranges,” said the women’s leader in comparing a trail and road race at the finish area as she was tending to her bleeding leg caused by a fall near the end. “Trail race, no doubt about it,” said Rhatigan when asked which she preferred.
 
“It’s a lot different and I actually like it because of the uphills and downhills you feel more empowered,” offered 3rd woman finisher Fraebel in her comment.
 
“I twisted my ankle about Mile Two but decided to tough it out and continue,” said Highlands Dawn Ciccone whose time of 1:05:45 earned her an age-group award. “You have to be ever alert and there’s no place in the whole six miles that you can just relax,” she further offered.
 
Ocean Township’s Susan Ardito, active member of the JSRC, finished at 1:10:45. “I was happy to finish the race and not fall down,” she said when asked her thoughts on this annual event. She further said, “being in the woods and on the dirt is a lot of fun.”
 
Also a member of JSRC, as well as the Sandy Hookers, Pam Allen of Red Bank finished at 1:14:43. In commenting she said, “Everybody around you is terrific and very supportive of each other and that makes for a friendly atmosphere,” she said and of the weather: “Beautiful, couldn’t be better.”
 
“This is the best race I have ever run,” said 34-year-old Melissa Mott of Piscataway who finished at 1:17:28. Mott has raced many road races including the New Jersey Marathon in the spring but likes this event best because, “it was the most fun--it was challenging--everybody kinda worked together, telling each other ‘watch here, watch there’ so you don’t fall and get hurt--and the tireless volunteers, and there were many of them, telling you ‘to be very careful’--it was a clearly marked course, you knew where you were going so you wouldn’t get lost.”
 
Seventy-year-old David Gross of Marlboro, one of the three septuagenarians who all received awards, David for his 1:06:29 racing time, loves this race and explains why: “It’s a real challenge – it’s not your ordinary, everyday, on-the-road type of race--there are more things out there than there are fingers on your hands and toes on your feet: roots, rocks, vermin, boardwalks, collapsing boards, mud, briar bushes, many, many, many leaves, slow runners who won’t give way but in comparison to a road race, it’s the greatest thing. Thanks to Mark Griggs (race director) for putting this on.”
 
The water spots where racers get a drink were strategically placed at the 1 1/4-mile area going out and also at the 4 ½-mile area coming back. It was serviced by some of the twenty or so on-course members of the host clubs who also served as course marshals, including Manasquan’s Charles J. Rand who was assigned to be the “sweep” who gathers markers and things but whose main task is to see that all racers are accounted for.
 
The event includes a One Mile (almost) Fun Run, on the once-around-the-lake course with 14, mainly youngsters, competing. Crystal Pappas, in the 5th grade at Ridgewood Elementary School, Manchester was the champion at 6:49.
 
Dave DeMonico, Ocean, on the trumpet and Chick Albers, Hazlet, on the drum provided music out on the course for their running friends. DeMonico also played our National Anthem at the into-the-woods starting area and prior to that director Mark Griggs thanked all racers for coming and cautioned them to be ever alert of their footing during the race.
 
The aforementioned winners and age-group leaders, along with special category recipients, were given awards of laser-etched metal plaques created by Tom Morrison, past president of JSRC, at the Pavilion by race director Mark Griggs and other members of the race committee.
 
Information in the encyclopedia informs of the history of the Harriers: “Hashing originated in Kuala Lumpur, Maylasia, in December 1938, when a group of British colonial officers began meeting on Monday evenings to run, in a fashion patterned after the traditional British Paper Chase or ‘Hare and Hounds,’ to rid themselves of the excesses of the previous weekend. Its Constitution proposes: To promote physical fitness among the members; To get rid of weekend hangovers; To acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it in beer; To persuade the older members that they are not as old as they feel.”
 
“With near-perfect running conditions the 32nd running of the Hashathon six-mile trail race proved to be outstanding in many ways. With a huge turnout of 326 finishers in the main event and 14 in the one-mile fun run, the trails of Cheesequake State Park provided a challenge for all. The mild weather and fall foliage proved a beautiful setting for the brutal race. I want to thank the enthusiastic volunteers from the Jersey Shore Running Club, especially Phil and Penny Hinck and their mother-in-law/mother, Marilyn Ryder; the Rumson Hash House Harriers and a few individuals from communities near the Park. Once again the staff at the Park proved to be helpful and gracious hosts. Local rock band Goldenseal gave a spirited performance at the postrace party held at the M.E. Haley Hose Fire Department #1 of Matawan. This is the third year that the Hashathon’s postrace party was held at this location. Thanks also go to the Shore Athletic Club and John Kuhi for the timing clock; to Tommy Morrison for crafting the unique awards; to Rick Valentine of Athlete’s Image for the fantastic embroidered long-sleeve T-Shirts; to Atillo’s Pizza for prompt delivery of tasty pizzas; to the entire Hashathon Race committee for enduring the months of planning that lead up to this big day and who gave up most of their weekend to ensure that this race goes off without a hitch, and to Johnny on the Spot for its necessary amenities," said Mark Griggs in an e-mail summary. "We hope to see all of you back at Cheesequake State Park again next year for another spectacular race."