Groner and Gaffney Win Rust-Buster Marathon

by Clay Shaw

Saddle Brook, NJ, April 24, 2021—When US World Championship marathoner Roberta Groner needed a live marathon recently, she created her own. With help from Matt Slocum and Laura DeLea, she organized a live, certified marathon course on the Saddle River Park Trail. It was a five-lap route, each approximately five miles, with the remaining 1.2 miles added at the end. And it was a beautiful setting  with a river, a lake and plenty of shade. 

With male pacers, the group went through halfway on a 2:30 pace. Fueling issues with a new diet led to some slowing in the second half, but Roberta did finish with a 2:34:33. The only runner finishing in front of Roberta, was John Gaffney of Nutley, NJ who won in 2:32:50. 

Jamie Hartop of Hoboken, NJ was second male and third overall in 2:37:47.  After the race, Hartop told us he was a Ursinus College grad (like our daughter-in-law).  Megan Youngren of Soldotna, Alaska was second woman in 2:43:27. Youngren was working in Northern California, so the flight to New Jersey was half as long as a flight from Alaska. Gary Rosenberg of Morristown and Terry Davidson of Randolph, NJ finished almost together, with Rosenberg getting in one second faster at 2:44:49.  Both are masters runners, as is Roberta.  Brad Barket of Brooklyn, NY was the final finisher in 2:49:50, a time that wins many marathons. 

All seven runners broke 2:50. The venue did have a fair amount of bike traffic, recreational runners, dog walkers, etc., even with the 7:00 AM start. The weather was beautiful for the marathon, which was held a day earlier than originally planned due to a wet forecast for the 25th.

Roberta Groner is 43, a native of Pittsburgh, PA.  Her personal best is 2:29:09 from the Rotterdam Marathon in April 2019.  Representing the USA at the 2019 World Athletic Championships in Doha, Qatar, she placed sixth in the women’s marathon.  That marathon was held at midnight and still 86 degrees with 70 percent humidity.


  1. 2:32:50 John Gaffney, 29, Nutley, NJ
  2. 2:34:33 Roberta Groner, F43, E.Ledgewood, NJ
  3. 2:37:47 Jamie Hartop, 24, Hoboken, NJ
  4. 2:43:30 Megan Youngren, F29, Soldotna, AK
  5. 2:44:49 Gary Rosenberg, 50, Morristown, NJ
  6. 2:44:50 Terry Davidson, 49, Randolph, NJ
  7. 2:49:50 Brad Barket, 42, Brooklyn, NY
Rust-Buster Marathon 4/24/2021 Saddle Brook, NJ. (Photo by Karen Mitchell)
The 7AM start of the Rust-Buster Marathon was on the Saddle River Trail. (Photo by Karen Mitchell)
Led by pacers Matt and Jacob for the first half of the marathon, Jamie Hartop, Roberta Groner, and John Gaffney went through halfway at 1:15:00 (a 2:30 marathon pace).
Led by cyclists, the top three runners cross the bridge over the Saddle River. John Gaffney, Roberta Groner, and Jamie Hartop would be the top three finishers.
Roberta Groner on the Saddle River Trail during the Rust-Buster Marathon. (Photo by Karen Mitchell)
John Gaffney (in black) won the marathon in 2:32:50. Roberta Groner was second and first woman in 2:34:33. (Photo by Karen Mitchell)
A moment of concern when a little dog pulled free from his owner and went after Roberta, but thankfully did not bite.
Roberta Groner running by the lake on the Saddle River Trail.
Megan Youngren of Soldotna, Alaska was fourth overall and second woman in 2:43:30. Youngren was working in the SF Bay Area, so the flight was not quite as long.
Masters runners Terry Davidson and Gary Rosenberg ran together in nearly identical times. Davidson 2:44:50, and Rosenberg 2:44:49. The runner on the right was helping out with pacing.
Laura DeLea and Roberta Groner enjoy a moment after the Rust-Buster Marathon. (Photo by Karen Mitchell)
John Gaffney with his dad after winning the Rust-Buster Marathon. (Photo by Karen Mitchell)
Jamie Hartop of Hoboken, NJ was third overall in 2:37:47. (Photo by Karen Mitchell)

Categories: Race Coverage

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