Spring Lake Five Draws
BY JIM ROBBINS
SPRING LAKE, NJ--Over 7,200 road racers began celebrating the Memorial Day weekend, on a sunny (finally) Saturday morning, May 28, by competing in the 29th annual Spring Lake Five-Mile Race, the largest race in New Jersey, and the largest five-mile race in the nation. Coming in first from this basically rectangular course, was Gene Mitchell of Franklin Lakes at 24:54, a smidgen under a five-minute mile pace.
No, not until the end, said Mitchell when asked if he were out in front the whole five miles. At two miles I was seventh; three miles, fifth; four miles, second; and at about 200 yards to go, I went out in front, he said in describing his racing performance. Its the best race in the country, no doubt about it--the amount of people in the race and the amount of people on the streets (the many residents cheering the runners as they ran the course which took in many of the Spring Lake streets), said the champion when asked to comment on the event.
Noel Whitall of Toms River was first in for the women with a time of 28:44. The course begins on Ocean and Sussex Avenues, proceeds north to and around Lake Como, passes the imposing edifice of Saint Catharines, continues to the Sea Girt border, and back onto Ocean Avenue to the finish line at Salem Avenue. Even though it was hot, the atmosphere was good and I love this course; its flat and fair, said Whitall, who was the third woman finisher of this race last year, when asked to share her thoughts.
Pleased but not satisfied, said Rob DeFilippis of Tinton Falls, head track coach of Red Bank Catholic High School, in commenting on his fourth place finish. DeFilippis had recently won the Rumson Run, also a five-miler, at 25:24 and in an interview at that race he informed that his goal was to get in under a five-minute-mile pace. Earlier in the day he reminded that that was still his goal, but his 25:13 was just 14 seconds too slow to satisfy.
Rounding out the top ten finishers who received Waterford crystal as their prize were Stephen Ondieki, 25:04, of Hackensack; Timothy Mulligan, 25:09, of Whiting; Rob DeFilippis, 25:13, of Tinton Falls; Craig Seagl, 25:19, of Holmdel; Ray Biersbach, 25:26, of New York, NY; Bill Hoffman, 25:29, of Eatontown; Dickson Mercer, 26:50, of Fair Haven; Mike Aiken, 26:57, of Mt. Pleasant, SC; and Joseph Pelligrino, 26:58, of Morganville.
The remaining top ten women were Amanda Mitchell, 28:51, of Ardmore, PA; Cheri Kerah, 28:57, of Wall; Megan Phillips, 29:49, of Brielle; Briana Jackucewicz, 29:54, of Farmingdale; Jennifer Flint, 29:57, of Berwyn, PA; Jennifer Malavota, 29:58, of Reeders, PA; Eileen Petito, 30:17, of Alton, IL; Christy DeFilippis, 30:38, of Tinton Falls; and Jill Evarts, 30:53, of Middletown.
This annual event includes the Spring Lake Five Kids Races presented the night before, starting at 6 p.m. also on Ocean Avenue in front of the Essex and Sussex Condominium, with favorite TV characters to greet them such as Winnie the Pooh, Tweety Bird, Blue from Blues Clues, Bob the Builder, and Cookie Monster. The event consists of a series of races of 25 yards for the 2-year-olds to a half-mile for the 14-year-olds. Over 2,000 children participated and with many having parents and grandparents and siblings and friends to cheer them on and take lots and lots of pictures; it was crowded. Wall Townships Frank Nikola--along with his wife Laura and their son, 3½-year-old racer Krystof--were involved in the race and Frank offered these comments when asked about this event: Its wonderful--the whole weekends a good time--organizers do a great job with setting it up; they have a lot of volunteers who help out and they all know what theyre doing.
Early morning volunteers--setting up the nearly two hundred 2 x 8 tables needed for all the bagels, cookies, bananas, iced-down soda, and bottled water that wilted racers would eventually consume--were treated to breakfast goodies of cakes and coffee on the steps of the Essex and Sussex Condominium Association. The Spring Lake Five welcoming committee members--Ginny Shutner and Robert Ferguson, who is also president of the board of trustees--were on hand to replenish the supplies when necessary. The sun was just completely above the water from its rise at 5:31 a.m. which added to the classy setting. The Association also offered coffee to the parents of the Friday-night racers.
The Spring Lake Five-Mile Run is organized by the Spring Lake Race Committee under the guidance of the Friends of the Spring Lake 5 Inc., a not-for-profit organization. After payment of race expenses, all proceeds are donated to charitable organizations or allocated for town projects. Last year the race raised over $65,000 for Spring Lake Recreation and the schools of Spring Lake. We expect to do the same and maybe more this year. Many thanks to the towns police and fire departments for their cooperation and for the 700 volunteers from the local service organizations and the area running clubs for their know-how efforts. Fred and Anna Torres of Elite Racing Systems organized the computer scoring and finish-line activities. A very special thanks to my wife, Penny, who is the very heart of racing at the Jersey Shore, e-mailed Phil Hinck, race director.