Rain and Repeat Winners at Rumson Run

BY JIM ROBBINS

RUMSON, NJ--A field of 461 road racers finished the 12th annual A.J. Bruder Five Mile Rumson Run, on a dismal, damp but good racing-weather morning of May 2, at the stadium track of the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School.

Dave Demonico of South River, the Shore area's champion of many races, was the overall winner on a course that started at Black Point Road, adjacent to the school, and proceeded in rectangular fashion on the two towns' streets back to the RFRHS stadium in a racing time of 26:59. "I did a 25:52 in 2001," said Demonico when asked to recall his best time for this event. " Rolling hills--I like the rolling hills," was his immediate description of the course. Further comments of "I'm semi-retired--not in the best of shape--a little tough for me," were offered by Demonico and he was quick to add that he depends on his coach and friend Susan Ardito of Ocean Township, both of whom are active members of the Jersey Shore Running Club (JSRC). Demonico can boast that he won all five of the Shore Athletic Club's 2004 Winter Series of 5K races staged at Joe Palaia Park in Deal.

The women's winner, a repeat performance from last year, was Farmingdale's 13-year-old Briana Jackucewicz whose time of 29:38 was 19 seconds faster than her 2003 championship time. She finished in 5th place overall. Recently at the Indoor National High School Meet at the 168th Street Armory, NY, NY Briana clocked a world high school record for a 5K at 16:43. That broke the 21-year-old scholastic record of 16:52.

"We were together until about the first mile, then he [Demonico] took off; I made a little surge on Rumson Road but knew I couldn't catch him," said Jon Smolenski of Spring Lake, the runner-up at 27:31, when asked to comment on his efforts. Coming in third overall was Rob Dobson of Middletown at 28:18.

Finishing second for the women was Noel Whitall of Toms River at 29:47; 7th overall and third place was won by Terra Sarnacki (31:22) of Eatontown, good for 14th overall.

Highlands' Dawn Ciccone, vocalist, gave a fine rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” at the starting area and was also 1st place trophy winner in her age group with a time of 36:44. "It was great--the roads are in perfect condition--weather was rainy but it was nice and cool--a lot of crowd support, even with the weather," said Ciccone, an English teacher in the Monmouth Beach school system and member of the JSRC, when asked her thoughts on the race.

Never aging Harold Nolan of Navesink, trophy winner of the 55-59 age group, was 6th overall in 29:46, under a 6-minute mile. The recipient of numerous awards in racing both indoors and outdoors, recalls his best time for a five miler was 24:40 in the mid 1980s. "The drizzle didn't bother me, but I didn't like the humidity," offered Nolan of the weather. "Great--not a lot of turns, pretty straight--a few hills, but nothing major," he said in describing the course.

Chris Stripto of Brick, formerly of Middletown, finished 9th overall at 30:28, good for a 2nd place trophy in the 25-29 year age group for the 27 year old. Stripto recalls his best racing time for a five-mile distance was 25:45 at the popular Run Thru Deal presented each year in October, sometime in the mid-1990s. Stripto plans to get back running regularly, and racing friends will be looking forward to his company.

Vietnam veteran Joe Renzella of Neptune City won the 60-64 year age group at 35:07. "It wasn't as slippery as I thought it would be, with the rain and all--not very many turns, a nice straight course," said the highly decorated veteran with four Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart, when asked his thoughts on the course. Recently, at a race dedicated to another Vietnam veteran who had given the ultimate sacrifice, Renzella was one of three veterans who was given the opportunity to say a few words, and he, along with the other two, was adamant in how important it is to let the troops know that they have the country's complete support in their service for our freedom. Certainly a thought well taken.

Much applause from viewers in the stadium stands and infield accompanied Tim McLoone's voice over the microphone as he said, "Here comes 84-year-old Clarence Lurch--whoops, sorry about that, I've just been corrected, he's only 83 years old." Lurch of Wall Township had just come onto the track to finish the last stretch of his five-mile trek. Lurch, founder of Lertch (sic) Wrecking Inc. and proud to have been a WW II Seabee, was in 456th place and his time was 1:07:42.

Awards and trophies were presented to the aforementioned winners and age-group leaders by Tim McLoone, emcee, assisted by Mayor John Ekdahl, along with Dr. Michael Lospinuso of the Orthopedic Institute, a main sponsor, on the infield of the stadium which served as the staging area as the physically spent racers were enjoying refreshments.

Prior to the 9:30 a.m. start, McLoone introduced M.J. Bruder Munafo, sister of A.J. Bruder, for whom the event is named. "I want to thank everybody for coming to honor my brother--I think of him everyday and just want you to know that A.J. loved to run in the rain, so he's with you today--have a great race," Munafo said. McLoone then gave the bullhorn to the mayor who, as the official starter, sounded the horn and the racers were off.

At 36 years of age, Andrew J. Bruder died of cancer. He was a graduate of RFRHS and the first winner of the Rumson Run that began in 1992.

"It was awesome," said Elaine Eadon, race director, in her immediate comments summarizing the day's events. "We had many more runners than last year and it was a good day to run, cloudy and cool. I want to thank all the volunteers, first aid and the police, and all the sponsors that made this happen," she added. To the final question, "Are you looking forward to directing it next year?" Eadon unhesitatingly answered, "Absolutely!"

The event included a 3K Fun Run/Walk and its program informed: "The Rumson Run offers a healthy and exciting family day--a time when an enormous amount of positive energy can be produced and channeled back into the Rumson and Fair Haven communities. The money that is raised goes towards college scholarships, the local schools, and the local emergency organizations."