Clausen Captures Saturday
BY WAYNE BAKER
HOLMDEL, NJ--A cool, hazy morning greeted almost 500 women as they prepared to toe the starting line of the Saturday in the Park 5K. As the racers went through their registration and warm-up, the dew on the grass wet their shoes. Held the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, this race kicks off the last weekend of summer racing at the Jersey Shore.
Jen Clausen (Jackson, NJ), one of NJs top high school runners, dominated the race. About to enter her junior year at Jackson Memorial High, Clausen had to run much of the race alone to build a half-minute lead. Capturing second was Jill Evarts (Middletown, NJ), one of the shores stalwarts. Third to the line was Amy ODonnell (Toms River, NJ).
Monmouth Countys Holmdel Park was the site of the race, organized by the Jersey Shore Running Club and directed by Penny Hinck. Before the race, Maria Ursino of Epiphany House, one of three womens support organizations the race benefits, said a few words of thanks. Many racers and volunteers wore purple ribbons in memory of Mary Conry, an area runner who passed away recently under tragic circumstances. Dawn Ciccone, a runner sidelined by injury, then sang the national anthem. Following the 5K course used for many of NJs big cross-country meets, the racers faced a course recognized as one of the most challenging in New Jersey.
About 50 of the racers were from the Jersey Shore Running Clubs Womens Running 101 classes, taught by John MacGillivray and Elaine Hartung. The class treats this race as their graduation ceremony.
Many participants run or walk this race for social or health reasons. Some use it as an opportunity to collect funds for a charity they believe in. Special awards are given in mother/daughter and sister categories. Several childrens races are also held.
While many participants take a non-competitive approach to this event, many of the areas high schoolers use it as an opportunity to measure their progress (or slippage) over the summer months. Large contingents from many of the areas high schools come out informally to do this race. They often run hard, having the ability to directly compare times to those run at Holmdel last fall. Many of the high school runners have difficulty at the finish which marks the intensity of their efforts.
1. Jen Clausen 19:10
1. Lisa Jones (22:30) 49:19
1. Rachel Provost (20:30) 43:51
Holmdel Parks 5K Course Described
The course begins by traversing a broad, slightly uphill field. As the racers enter the woods, the challenges begin--the course takes a short, steep rise on a gravelly dirt road. Once up this rise, the course makes a hard left and enters the first narrow section, about 200 yards of rolling, tightly wooded trail. This is followed by more gradual uphills on grassy and meadowy terrain. Shortly before the one-mile mark, the course begins a long, gradual, mostly downhill section leading into the infamous bowl.
The racers stretch out their strides as they enter the downhill section of the bowl. Paces pick up as the racers descend about 80 feet in about a third of a mile. As the racers arrive at the bottom of the bowl, they continue curving to their right and soon come face to face with their climb out. Its a steep, slightly rutted trail undoing most of the climb in just a few hundred feet. The now gasping racers then parallel their route to the bowl taking them to near the two-mile mark.
The final mile and change begins by traversing several fairly open areas, looping the parks tennis courts, then re-entering the woods. A couple of hundred yards of slightly wider, in-woods trail is followed by a steep descent, a sharp rise, and another quick descent before opening into the final field where the finish line awaits.