By Chris Rotolo |
What began as a casual conversation between two mothers during pickup at Point Road Elementary School spawned an annual tradition, and a community ready to celebrate a 25th anniversary.
When runners toe the starting line Sept. 30, the Little Silver 5K will officially have captivated a racing community for a quarter of a century and organizers are ready to commemorate the milestone moment with what they believe will be their most competitive race to date.
“We couldn’t let this anniversary pass without making it our best yet,” co-race director Michelle Koster said in an interview Wednesday. “We expect this race will once again attract high-caliber runners who will push everyone to achieve a fast time on our course.”
The 3.1-mile course begins on Harding Road, before runners hang a left on Prospect Avenue, followed by another left on to Rumson Road, and another left on to Hance Road. The runners will wind their way back to Harding Road before wrapping up on Oxford Avenue.
Though Koster and fellow co-director Stacey Tietjen currently head the endeavor, the road race was previously fronted by Dawn Wilcox and Stacey Crow, who in 2015 helped establish the Little Silver 5K as a USA Track & Field (USATF) sanctioned road race.
The backing of the USATF has helped raise the competitive stature of this event and, according to Tietjen, that certification has drawn elite runners from around the state.
The Little Silver 5K’s profile has grown so much over the last 25 years that this 2018 edition will act as a USATF-New Jersey Men’s Championship race and has been designated an official USATF Grand Prix event.
The race is also the largest fundraiser of the year for the Little Silver Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO).
“This event has continued to grow and grow because of the parents who have stepped up to take on the responsibility of leading the charge,” said Jen Holzapfel, Little Silver PTO communications director. “As well as the dedication of our race directors, we have to recognize the hundreds of volunteers who have donated their time for fundraising, marketing and event planning activities. It is remarkable to see these parents so willingly volunteer their time, in addition to their job and family responsibilities.”
The event will feature a 1-mile run for kids beginning at 8:45 a.m., before the starting gun fires on the 5K at 9:30 a.m. Kiddie Dashes will be held at approximately 10:30 a.m., immediately following the finish of the 5K. Organizers said age group winners will receive a commemorative 25th anniversary glass, though Mayor Robert C. Neff Jr. said he will not be in contention.
“I’ve attended the Little Silver 5K many times, but I’ll never run in it, because at best I’ll scare people away and at worst I’d probably cause our EMS something to do,” Neff Jr. said in jest during a Sept. 18 interview. “But it’s a terrific event that means so much to our PTO and one our community truly embraces each year.”
A post-race party will be held at Little Silver Fire House (543 Prospect Ave.) at 11 a.m. where organizers will honor original race directors, Colleen and Kevin Brennan and Wendy Jennings.
On race day, participants will be able to register and/or pick up their race packets from 7:30 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. in the Red Bank Regional High School lobby (101 Ridge Road).
This article was first published in the Sept. 20-26, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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