MUNGE TAKES SHEEHAN CLASSIC
BY LAURIE PARTON
RED BANK, NJ--August 12 wasn't your typical George Sheehan Classic day. In sharp contrast to the usual hot, humid conditions, characteristic of August in Red Bank, this year, ominous storms stalled over the Garden State, transforming babbling brooks into raging streams and flooding hundreds of homes throughout the region.
But rising tides and torrential downpours didn't dampen the determination of 19-year-old Kenyan, Titus Munge. Munge took the lead after the first 5K and held on to win in 23:05: a blistering 4:37 per mile pace and a new course record. He beat countryman Gabriel Muchiri to the tape on Broad Street by just two seconds.
On the women's side, another Kenyan, Catherine N'dereba, ran 26:27 to out-run Russian Ludmila Petrova by 16 seconds for the win. N'dereba also won the Sheehan Classic in 1995 and 1996. Her victory gives Kenya its fifth women's championship in the past six years. A Kenyan male has won the Sheehan Classic in seven of the past nine years.
Twenty-three-year-old Mike Melfi, of Syracuse, NY, was the first American, placing 11th and running 25:00. The top American female was Kari Bertrand, 29, of New York, who finished sixth in 27:45.
Munge told the press that, because of the rain, he wasn't thinking about a victory. He arrived late and said, "I didn't even get a chance to warm up." Munge made his move at three kilometers, then caught Muchiri by the 5K mark, relaxing into his pace. He said he was pleasantly surprised that the "dreaded" Tower Hill, which comes up at mile four, didn't give him the challenge he had expected. "It wasn't too steep going up and not too steep coming down," he said.
Despite the inclement weather, 3,000 runners showed up for the race, which is run in memory and honor of the late, great Dr. George Sheehan. By combining his gift of writing and love of running, "Doc" Sheehan used his prolific prose to applaud the beauty of the sport and show the world its positivity, not only in competition but also in the way it feeds the mind, body, and spirit.
1. Titus Munge 23:05
1. Dennis Packard 26:55
1. Catherine N'dereba 26:27
1. Debra Migdal 27:14