as Polar Bear Walk Champions;
Hurley and Sarnacki Capture Run
BY WAYNE BAKER
ASBURY PARK, NJ--Greetings from Asbury Park! The 39th Annual Polar Bear Races were held on Sunday, December 29. Billed as "the last races of the year," it was probably true on at least a regional basis. The 10-mile racewalk started at 10:00 a.m., while the 5-mile run went off at 1:00 p.m. Weather was cool, clear, and breezy, about as good a day as possible for the end of December.
Both events started in front of Convention Hall, using different courses. The walk was ten circuits of a one-mile course on Ocean Ave. The run was a short loop followed by four longer loops, with all loops heading inland.
John Soucheck, of Little Silver, NJ, a member of the World Cup walking team, easily walked away from the field. Cliff Mimm, of Willingboro, NJ, a former national champion, went with Soucheck for about 1½ miles. At that point, Mimm's lack of training began to show and he gradually faded from Soucheck's pace. Mimm's recent focus on other sports really impacted him beginning about six miles into the race. Slightly beyond the 8-mile mark, Mimm stopped to stretch and suddenly, the apparently insurmountable lead he had on Jack Lach, of Marlboro, NJ, was reduced to just a couple of hundred yards. Lach sharpened his focus and passed Mimm just before 9½.
National age-group record holder Sherry Brosnahan, of Bridgewater, NJ, outclassed the women's walking field. Maria Paul, a Long Branch, NJ, resident took second, and Colleen Glass, of Conshohocken, PA, captured third.
One of the boldest efforts of the day came from Bill Barry, of Galloway Twp., NJ, who had misread the race information and arrived expecting to participate in a 10-mile run at 10:00 a.m. Opting to try a new discipline, rather than wait for the 5-miler, Bill made a respectable showing and finished with a new appreciation of racewalking.
Kevin Hurley, 19, of Marlton, NJ, a student at the University of Maryland (Baltimore County), comfortably outran the men's field. His father and uncle had grown up in Neptune and several members of the family ran the race.
Stephen Marsalese, of New York City, took second, while Adam Rubman, of Lakewood, NJ, and Thomas Walsh, 15, of Aberdeen, NJ, took third and fourth. Bob and Tim Horn, of Brick, NJ, took fifth and sixth. Two long-time shore area competitors fared well battling the kids; Harry Nolan, of Middletown, NJ, took seventh and Bill Scholl, of Neptune, NJ, took eighth.
Among the women, Terra Sarnacki, 24, of Eatontown, a coach at Red Bank Regional High School and a Monmouth University graduate, won the race. After running with Sarnacki for about 3½ miles, Marie Walsh, 12, of Eatontown, NJ, dropped slightly off the pace, but captured second, about 60 yards back. Third, fourth, and fifth were taken by Lisa Picascia, of Holmdel, NJ; Anna Thornhill, of New York, NY; and Andrea Plaza, of Little Silver, NJ.
Several Polar Bear swimmers from the Coney Island, NY, group ran the race, then crossed the boardwalk and beach for a dip. As a result of their presence, a video crew shot parts of the race for an upcoming documentary.
1. Kevin Hurley 27:08
1. John Soucheck 1:21:47
1. Terra Sarnacki 34:52
1. Sherry Brosnahan 1:40:54
TERRA SARNACKI (LEFT), THE EVENTUAL WINNER, AND MARIE WALSH RUN TOGETHER IN THE 2002 POLAR BEAR 5-MILE. (WAYNE BAKER PHOTO)