Rose City Runners Celebrate 40th Anniversary

Submitted by Barbara Rushman

The Rose City Runners celebrated their 40th Anniversary with a catered dinner party at Community House in Madison, NJ (AKA The Rose City) on November 24.  A memorabilia table displayed club-related articles dating back to the club’s origin in 1979.  Long-time member Dick Helmer prepared a slide show that was accompanied by music from the movie “Chariots of Fire.” Members could come to the microphone and share their favorite memories.   

In addition, Barbara Rushman, a founding member and event organizer, published a book The Rose City Runners —The First 40 Years which details significant events and key members through the years with supporting photos, newspaper articles, and a time line of 550 milestones. The Rose City Runners is a social running club with a long history. 

The first meeting of the Rose City Runners was held at the Madison YMCA in early 1979.  The name was chosen and dues were set at $5.  The first president emerged, Dennis Maloney, a fourth-grade teacher in Madison.  He held the position for seven years.   

The club used the Madison YMCA as their meeting place for a few years before making the Madison Community House their home.  The club is a social one, having several annual parties and events each year, the most popular being the annual Glug Run in Jockey Hollow on Christmas Eve morning.  Several holiday-related events are held in December as well as a St Patrick’s Day party, a summer pool party, and a Super Bowl party.    

Dennis Maloney also directed the club race, The Rose City Festival 10K from 1979 to 1983 when Don Growley, a Madison High School teacher and coach became director for 1984.  In the early days, the club held their annual 10K Race in June.  The first year, 1979, the 10K started under the railroad bridge on Green Avenue at 1 p.m.  The course used part of the Giralda Farms site and returned to town, finishing in front of the Hartley Dodge Memorial Building on Kings Road.  It was over 85 degrees that day and one of the lead runners was taken to the hospital with heat exhaustion.  After that year the race was held earlier in the day.  The race start and finish moved to Dodge Field on Central Avenue and used the north side of town.  It was associated with the Rose City Festival back then.  

Club members were novices at producing a race in the early days, but grew and changed to keep up with the latest race timing and scoring technology.  The June race was not as popular as the Madison Jaycees’ 10K race in November that finished at the Madison YMCA.  In 1985, the club dropped the June event and joined forces with the Jaycees.  The November race moved to Giralda Farms that year where it has been held ever since.  The Jaycees discontinued their involvement after the initial joint year. The Rose City Runners put on the race from 1985 until 2017 resulting in substantial donations to the Madison Community House and the Morris County Parks Commission.  In addition, the race proceeds provided scholarships to Madison High School seniors. Although proud of their involvement in the race, the club gave up ownership of the Giralda Farms Run in 2018 to the Barwick Group, a race promotion company that promised to continue the scholarships.  It is held the second  Sunday of November.  

In 1997, a second race was added to the club’s activities that was held for 20 years.  The Hounds and Harriers Run was a three-mile run for dog lovers and their canine training partners.  First held in Loantaka Park in Morris Township, NJ, it was moved to South Mountain Reservation in Milburn, NJ in 2012.  This event donated 100% of the proceeds which totaled around $190,000 to various local shelters and rescue groups.   This event was so popular it was covered by Runner’s Gazette for its last 18 years.  It also was covered in Footnotes Magazine, Dog World Magazine, and was selected by Runner’s World as the race of the month.   

In 2008 the club formed a USATF racing team that is still active.  The team competes against other New Jersey clubs at USATF Championship races around the state.   

The most central activity of the club is Saturday Morning Runs held from Loantaka Park.  The club meets at 8:30 a.m. from April through October and 9 a.m. from November through March.  No matter how inclement the weather or impassable the streets, there are always a hearty few that make it to the park.  The club is made up of slow, fast, and medium paced runners who typically cover between three and eight miles. The best part of Saturday morning is sharing breakfast after the run on a picnic bench.  In the winter a member builds a fire in the shelter to keep runners warm while sharing coffee and goodies.  The club has been known to roast marshmallows and make S’mores.  

If you are interested in learning more about the club visit the website (www.RoseCityRunners.com) or contact BarbaraRushman@yahoo.com.      

Party attendees (Submitted)
The party committee: Pam Helmer, Lee Brush, Joe Balwierczak, Richard Helmer, Barbara Rushman (event chairperson), Lynda Brush, John Rushman (Submitted)
Mementos on display at the Rose City Runners anniversary party. Runner’s Gazette with Giralda Farms coverage is front and center. (Submitted)


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