Unique Ross Kupcha Run Captures
BY JACK HEATH
NATIONAL PARK, NJ--The ninth annual Browning Ross Bob Kupcha 5K run and one-mile run/walk held October 24, 2015 was easily one of the most unique events in Gloucester Catholic High Schools 88-year history.
The race is named after two-time Olympian Browning Ross, Gloucester Catholics track and cross-country coach for over 17 years, and Dr. Bob Kupcha an Orthopedic Surgeon, Iraq War Veteran, and an excellent javelin thrower for Brownings Gloucester Catholic track teams in the 1970s.
The pre-race festivities started with the Geator, Philadelphias own renowned D. J. Jerry Blavat, stirring up excitement for the race the night before by donning the Blues Brothers ram themed Ross Kupcha race T-shirt given to all runners and walkers at a fundraiser dance at the Gloucester Catholic Gymnasium.
Race morning luckily featured perfect 50-degree running weather (the race has been held in freezing cold and in the middle of northeasters on occasion) as Bishop Dennis Sullivan, the Bishop of the Diocese of Camden, blessed the 200 participants, and invoked St. Sebastian the patron Saint of athletes at the start.
The runners and walkers were also serenaded by a disc jockey, a bag piper from the United States Marines Giordano Detachment, and South Jerseys own Bonsal Blues Band.
There were 30 different classes of Gloucester Catholic represented at the Ross Kupcha run from the late 1950s to the class of 2019. The mens race was won by Gloucester Catholics freshman cross-country runner Travis Finley and the womens race was won by GCHS girls soccer coach Kate Ormsby.
Dave Williams was a graduate of Gloucester Catholics class of 1937--before Gloucester Catholic had a track team. He was a World War II veteran with the Army Rangers, a friend of Browning Ross, and one of the best runners in the country in the 1940s and '50s. Williams ran with his father in the 1930s and earned a track scholarship to Georgetown before the war. He teamed with Browning Ross at Villanova after returning from the war.
Members of the Williams (Alexandra) and Ross family (Bonnie and Barb) were on hand to present the awards.
Besides age-group awards, and finishing medals to every runner and walker in the mile, the race featured Browning Ross style prizes for every participant, consisting of merchandise, running clothes, gift baskets, and the biggest hit with young runnerspumpkins.
The Ross Kupcha long-sleeve race Blues Brothers ram T-shirts were designed by GCHS art teacher Dave Sipple, an award winning artist. Why a blues brothers race theme? Because race proceeds were designated for Camilla Hall, the retirement home for Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters in Immaculata, PA. Race proceeds also went to Gloucester Catholic scholarships in Dr. Bob Kupchas name.
Browning Ross directed thousands of races in his career. In
a twist that would have amused Browning, the runners ran slightly
off course not too long after the races start adding a tenth
of a mile to the race distance. Long-time Browning race veterans,
Walt Pierson, Tom Campo, Ken Kling, and Margie Morris, could
be heard after the race saying Well it wouldnt have
been a Browning race if it was exactly 5K!
1. Travis Finley 23:08.19