Raritan Valley Road Runners Online Newsletter

November 1999
Volume 7 Issue 9

Another Mile in the Queen’s Royal Slippers

Trink Poynter

So I go tearing into the Youth Center, with three minutes to change my clothes before giving announcements, and rush into the ladies’ room. Outside, runners have started to mill about the hallway, growing restless. People began pounding on the bathroom door, and as I sat there on the throne, I wondered, "Is this what it’s like to be Queen?" Hence, royal slippers this month. By the way, I did a record change time that would do any triathlete proud.

October was one of our club’s busiest months. Perhaps most important was our club’s involvement in the East Brunswick Road Races. I was pleasantly surprised to see how many of you turned out to help. Thank you! Our club netted $1,100 from all our hard work. Special thanks go to Ray Petit, race director, Janice Reid, chief advisor and organizer, and Ed Levy and Rolf Arands, our volunteer leaders.

Of course, there’s always the party after the race at the Brown-Reid household. Announcement: The hot tub record has been broken! We managed to stack 14 runners, thanks to Ray Schick, who was crazy enough to climb in and be our record-breaking body!

I’d also like to give special recognition and thanks to Jim Zinsmeister, who volunteered hours of his time to cut and amass paper for recycling. His careful efforts packed in so much paper that he netted a check of $162.90, which he donated to our club’s treasury!

And there’s more! We also did the timing of the Spotswood Race in October. Many thanks to Janice Reid, John Nowatkowski and Ed Levy for pitching in to help with this event. Their collective efforts netted $250 for us.

Our last event for October was a group run organized by Roger Price at Holmdel. Nine hardy runners showed up to try out the course before the upcoming Masters Cross Country Championship and open division Races to be held there on November 21.

There will be another Holmdel training run on November 7th. As before, we’ll meet at the Youth Center at 10 a.m. to carpool there. Thank you, Roger, for organizing these runs.

Our towpath runs are still being held on Saturday mornings, meeting at Grove 5 in Johnson’s Park. The meeting time has changed, however. The run starts at 9 a.m., so get there a few minutes early, if you need time to get ready. Otherwise Ray Petit, our towpath chieftain, will remind you (with love) that 9 o’clock means 9 o’clock.

Other than a lot of races for the competitive soles in our club, our next big event will be our Holiday Bash at Ken Vercammen’s Castle on December 11. It will be a BYOB affair for the more discriminating tastes, and a free feed for club members. Please mark your calendars! Directions are provided in this newsletter.

Also, to remind you, we will be having elections in December and will accept additional nominations for offices at that time. Especially President.

Please remember to get and wear a reflective vest for night running!

Happy safe running!

You can go now.

Youth Series Reflections

Mary Chervenak

Pete is sitting, elbows on knees, with his head in his hands. "But I listen to Slayer!" he wails. Pete offered to lead kids around the quarter-mile, half-mile, and mile courses for this year’s Youth Series races, and he now has a devoted following of eight-year-old girls. I think he’s a little concerned about being arrested. But he’s like a kid himself: when the girls call, he scampers after them.

I envy his easy slide into childhood. I’m never sure what to say to kids. I talk to them the way I talk to adults. I’ll ask about their race, and I’m invariably surprised by the response. Some answers are monosyllabic; others detail a race strategy so complex, it rivals one of Roger Price’s. What impresses me most, though, are the kids themselves. I am struck by their excitement, their exuberance, their love for the game of running.

In a lot of ways, I’m still a kid. Really. I’m afraid of the dark. I like things poisonously sweet. Sometimes, I still want my Mom. I haven’t been outside to play, however, in a long time. I don’t remember the day when running stopped being a game, and starting becoming work, but I vividly recall the first time I cried at the end of a race. And not tears of joy, either, but of rage and disappointment.

I read an account of a blind person who was once able to see. She remarked that she could still remember certain colors–the bright ones, like orange and red, were easy–but she was forgetting the softer ones. Blue, she said, was a particularly slippery color. She was afraid of forgetting blue. Maybe that’s it. Maybe I am forgetting my colors.

As I watched the end of one of the races, the half-mile I think, a little girl with a blond ponytail skipped over the finish line. "C’mon Dad!" she shouted over her shoulder. Dad was right behind her, grim and red-faced, pounding the last few meters of the course. I was a little girl, that little girl, only a minute ago, with long Pocohontas braids and torn Keds, racing my brother around the backyard. I was also her dad, am her dad, hating the run, hating myself, weeping after the race.

When I agreed to take charge of this year’s Youth Series, I expected, I think, to foster a love of running in the kids who participated. What I didn’t expect was the kids to teach me about running and about myself. They taught me to remember my colors. To invite myself out to play. To run because I can.

So, I am looking for that little girl of a minute ago with long braids and worn-out shoes. She’s out there, down the street, not too far ahead, running for all she’s worth. I just have to catch her.

Saturday Towpath Runs

Every Saturday morning, we meet in Johnson Park, Piscataway at the Grove 5 parking lot for a group run. Take the one-way park road west from Landing Lane (between Landing Lane Bridge and River Road). Turn left into the first parking lot. If this lot is closed because of a Rutgers football game, continue on the park road and park in the next lot on the right adjacent to the Olde Towne within Johnson Park.

The run is out-and-back on the D&R Canal towpath. Typical distances vary from 4.8 to 20+ miles and runners of all levels are welcome! The towpath sustained a great deal of damage from Hurricane Floyd. Although passable, runners should be cautious due to exposed roots and holes. Rest rooms are available at the start and along the way, but they will close for the season in early November. Currently, the run starts promptly at 9 a.m. Therefore, towpath runners should arrive by 8:50 a.m.

Time to Survive: Survival of the Shawangunks 1999

Pete Priolo

I absolutely had to do this race this year.

The Survival of the Shawangunks adventure triathlon (SOS) is held in September each year in the Shawangunk Mountains outside New Paltz in upstate New York. The race is unique in that it has eight segments instead of the usual three. The uniqueness does not end there. The finish line of the course is at the top of the Shawangunk Mountains, at the fabled Sky Top Tower. This tower can be seen for miles in the area. It is also so grueling that people need to qualify for this race by finishing a half-Ironman race under a certain time beforehand and attaching those credentials to their applications. Let me describe the eight segments of the race.

The first segment starts off with a 30-mile bike ride, an undulating course with a straight climb of 1,000 feet within the last 5 miles. The bike is then handed over to a person in his crew and swapped for his swim and run gear.

After transition, the first run of the day is a 4.5-mile trail run that has an altitude rise of 400 feet total. This gravel-laced run leads the person over to Lake Awosting, the first swim of the day.

The Lake Awosting swim is 1.1 miles in length and is the longest swim in the triathlon.

After getting out of Lake Awosting, the person then tackles the second run of the day, a 5.5-mile run and one of the most scenic runs I have ever seen. Roughly 3 miles and a vertical climb of about 300 feet take the person to a top of a place called Castle Rock, a beautiful outcropping of rock formations. On the top of Castle Rock one can get a scenic view of the surrounding Hudson Valley. I wish I had my camera for this one. The final 2.5 miles is a downhill section that takes the person over to another lake for the next segment.

The Lake Minnewaska Swim is 0.5 miles in length, from one side of the lake to the other. Getting out and climbing a stone stairway starts the next segment of the race.

This is perhaps the defining segment of the race. The run is 8 miles long, the longest run of the race. The first 2 miles is steeply downhill on an asphalt road with switchbacks. Once on the bottom, the course turns off to a trail that stays pretty level for the next 4 miles. After this stretch, the person then encounters Godzilla, a 2 mile grueling climb that brings him to the last lake for his last swim.

The Lake Mohonk Swim is 0.5 miles in length. This is a beautiful lake, virtually untouched by human hands. At the end of the swim the person has Sky Top Tower and the finish line over his right hand shoulder as he gets out of the water.

The last run basically sums up the whole race in general. They officially call it a sprint, but it is hardly what the average runner thinks is a sprint. This last run is only 0.7 miles, but has a 600-foot climb to the top of the mountain. 600 feet! After nearly 19 miles of running on top of 30 miles cycling, this can turn out to be one of the toughest challenges for any person!

I was aching to do this race for several years now but Ironman Canada was in the way. This grueling race was only 3 weeks after the long grueling Ironman race—how could I absolutely recover? After some considerations, I decided to bite the bullet and do the race.

A couple of weeks before the race, while still recovering from Ironman Canada, I received the final instructions on what conditions would be like and what I needed to do. I needed at least one person as crew for this race. Since this race was a point-to-point-to-point venue, I needed someone to drop me off with my bike at the start, then travel over to the transition area to pick up my bike and give me the items necessary for the swim/run portions of the event, then drive up to the finish line and retrieve a tired me at the end of the race.

My parents were the ideal choice for my crew in this triathlon. In my early tri-years they were pretty much always there for me. They hadn’t seen me race much in recent years, so I hoped that they would accept this position so that they can see me in action. They did, and I smiled from ear to ear.

The instructions also said that with the lakes being potentially cold at this time of year, they might require people to use wetsuits for the swim. This would complicate things, for I would have had to lug the cumbersome wetsuit around for close to 19 miles of running, not my idea of an enjoyable run.

So I had to prepare to plan in case I needed a wetsuit. The plan included using the Ironman New Zealand backpack I obtained early this year to carry my wetsuit during the runs, and some complicated transitions that I did not want to do. So I prayed to God, Mother Nature, the Fairy Godmother, and Papa Smurf that they would keep wetsuits optional in this year’s race. I got my wish when they announced it at the pre-race pasta load. I was smiling stupidly like a chimpanzee.

So, the final plan was simple. Keep the running shoes on during the swim, and carry the goggles and swim cap along on the run. No problem.

Dawn arrived, and I was greeted with the cool, crisp mountain air. The temperature was around 45oF. Some fog was blocking out the rising sun, keeping it really cold in the early going. As I looked around people were all in their long sleeve cycling clothes. I put on my skimpy Speedo no-sleeve top and normal cycling shorts and shivered up to the start. I was to be in the second wave, one minute behind the first wave.

As the first wave started off I rolled over to the starting line and was ready for the oncoming hypothermia that might result in the early miles. I wanted to go out fast to warm up quickly and to also avoid the inevitable…pack riding. It was a draft-illegal event, but when the event started off with cycling, pack riding would be inevitable.

Bang! We’re off, and I was shivering like crazy. Where is that God-forsaken sun? I started out in the lead but was soon swallowed by the pack. I hung out in the back, staying as legal as possible. The draft marshals were vigilant with their penalties, but it didn’t make a dent in the pack. So I hung and hoped to warm up. The sun finally came out about 15 miles into the race, warming and relieving me immensely. I was to thank The Fairy Godmother for that one also. The cycling course circles around the mountain that we were to climb during the run/swim portion of the race. On a good portion of the course I can look to my left to find the finish line…at that distant tower waaaaayyy on the top of that mountain. I felt so insignificant. At that sight I knew it was only the beginning of a long race.

The last 5 miles of the bike was where the climbs would begin…

The last part of the course climbs 1,000 feet into the foothills of the Shawangunk Mountains. Climbing is not one of my strong points, and the pack pulled away as we climbed the last part of the course. I knew I would be seeing some of them again, since my strongest discipline was swimming, and that was still to come in the race.

I finally get to the top, and my father points me to the car, with the trunk open, just like I instructed. What I needed was placed carefully in that trunk, my shoes, goggles, and swim cap. Off go the helmet, cycling shoes, top and shorts. I put on my running shoes, grabbed the goggles and cap, and off I go. I was around 20th place when leaving for my first run.

The first run (4.5 miles)…was a climb, and kept on climbing. Sometimes it takes time to get used to the run after a hard ride, and this was no exception. I got to the top, where a person was then pointing to where I would begin the first swim.

I got to the edge of the lake, put on my goggles and cap, and waded into the water. Brrrr, this water is cold! I started to swim (1.1 miles) and found it immediately different. The shoes felt like anchors in the water, and I know my speed was reduced a little because of it. A couple of minutes in the water though, and I started to get used to the running shoes. I passed by droves of swimmers in the process.

Damn, the water was cold! I speeded up my stroke cadence in the water for the sole purpose of keeping myself warm in the water. I passed by more swimmers in the process. I get to the end of the lake and found one swimmer cramped up so severely that he couldn’t stand himself up in the shallow water. As I came onshore the volunteers were giving hot tea to four shivering people sitting in the sun waiting to warm up. I was shivering also, but I decided to try to warm up by running instead. Sure enough, after the first mile, I warmed up quite nicely.

The second run (5.5 miles) started with a gradual climb up to the top of a place called Castle Rock. I actually caught and passed one person in the process and found myself making to the top with no problems. The scenery from atop was beautiful Simply breathtaking! The descent to the next lake was through some twisty, turny, rough rocky trails designed to twist an ankle. I was relieved when I saw the lake at the bottom of the descent.

The second swim (0.5 miles), was in a warmer lake. Here I was told for the first time where I was in the race. "Alright you’re in 6th place! Keep it going man!" said the volunteer as I waded into the lake. I’m in 6th place? How the hell did that happen? All right, don’t get too serious now, you’re here for fun, remember? It’s still a long way till the end, enjoy it. I caught another person as I swam like a speed demon to the other side. Surprisingly, my cheering parents were there as I exited the lake and started the longest run of the race. I waved to them, and then I was off. I was in 5th place after the second swim.

The third run (8 miles) was the critical element of the race, in my opinion; if I can get through this without stopping, the race was mine! The first 1.5 miles was down a very steep road with switchbacks, something my legs really didn’t enjoy. The road leveled off and then I turned off the road onto another trail. The trail was well groomed, and definitely turned out to be very picturesque. The trail was set into the mountain, with large rocky overhangs on the left and a severe drop-off to the right of the path. The trail was busy with people climbing these rocky overhangs to god-knows where. It was surprisingly level at this point and I found out that I was in good rhythm.

This was important, as I knew that Godzilla was lurking the last 2 miles; I needed to show up in the best of shape at that point. After the last aid station at mile 6 I turned right and saw the first climb of Godzilla. A hard effort, but I made it up OK. The trail bends, showing another hill. I climbed that one OK, after the second steep hill I found that I was climbing gradually for a good deal after that.

I was still looking for another back-breaker hill when I came upon a volunteer leading me off the path…and to the next lake! That was it? That was Godzilla? I was disappointed, then amazed that I was disappointed for not being hurt more on the hill! I am one sadistic SOB, right? I guess with almost 10 years of triathlon experience under my belt, I’ve seen tougher hills than Godzilla. I waded into the water again for the last swim of the race (0.5 miles). This swim was sluggish (you try swimming after 18 miles of running; take my word for it, it isn’t easy). Fortunately, I developed no cramps in the water. I emerge out of the lake for the final run, the "sprint" up to Sky Top Tower. Be afraid, be very afraid…

The trail bends a little to the right, and the climb gradually gets steeper…a volunteer points me to the left, and the trail turns to dirt, with steps strewn every so often…I get to a fork in the trail; one road levels off, another going sharply up another set of steps (this time steeper)…guess where I had to go…that’s right...UP!…the trail then switches back along a cliff and another volunteer points me in another direction…toward another set of steps!…you had to see these steps…kind of like spiral staircase made of stone…I had to RUN up these steps?…OK, one step at a time…careful…I’m aching bad here!…where the $&*%$* is the finish line?!…quads are screaming…OK, I’m finally at the top of those godforsaken steps, where do I go next?…volunteer tells me to turn right, and the elevation gradually levels off…with the Survivor Line in sight!

I’m there dude, in 4:45:15! I then touch the tower for good measure and, when my father arrived several minutes later, took pictures with his camera of the view from the top of the mountain. From our vantage point we can view 5 states from here. Wow! This one definitely was headed for my scrapbook. One person in a later wave finished behind me, but had a faster time, so I was bumped to 6th place overall. I guess I got what they called Beginner’s Luck. I was definitely satisfied with my race. And I got what I came for, a lot of fun.

Anyway, I got a pretty good-sized plaque for 2nd in my age group. The organization of this race was good overall, and, after all the people get the awards, the rest of the people who didn’t get awards were awarded smaller plaques for finishing the race.

Oh, and the post-race dinner was excellent, by the way! Lots of good food there. I would love to do this race next year. It is certainly a unique race that everyone should experience at least once.

A Letter of Thanks from the 1999 East Brunswick Road Races

Ed Levy

It seemed like a task for the mission impossible team. When the list of positions was given to him, Rolf counted up the jobs and figured we needed 92 volunteers to (wo)man the different jobs at the East Brunswick races both pre race, during the race and afterwards.

Ninety-two people for a small race? It seemed hard to believe that we would need that many people. There were the pre-race duties such as distribution of the homeowners letter for people living along the course, the preparation of race packets, the stuffing of bags and envelopes, and the distribution of race packets to preregistered runners. There was the "procuremen"" of porta-johns and pumpkins. As for race day, we needed volunteers to direct traffic and parking to the early kids races, registration, course marshals, water stations, mile timers, food setup, and on and on and on.

Rolf knew this was going to be tough so one of the first things he did was come to me and ask for help. Of course, I said, "Yeah right, dream on." But after he explained the seriousness of the task before us, I "volunteered" to assist him whenever I could.

And in the end he and I succeeded in finding over 45 club members both new and old to volunteer at the race. Some weren’t even members of the club. Some volunteered, some were coerced—not many—but all came through and in most cases did two, three and often four jobs. Some who planned to run the race came early and helped out with the set up, registration and other prerace duties. One volunteer who had a flight in the afternoon for sunnier and warmer climates came and helped until the race began. In all, 99.9% of the people who said they would be there were there and did their jobs excellently. On behalf of Rolf, myself and the Raritan Valley Road Runners, we wanted to thank the following people for the efforts in making the new Blackstone 10K and newer John Ragone 5K a rousing success. I hope we have listed everyone below.

Janice Reid Paul Krentar

Doug Brown    Pati Reid

Peter Fama   Lois Brown-Klein

Roger Price  Eva Weinberger

Dana Gross Ken Mangin

Madeline Bost    Steve Kornstein

Scott Brenner    Andrea Orlando

Clyde Dolan John Nowatski

Mark Zamek Ginny Farrell

Sam Bianca Mark Strawn

Pete Priolo Sid Auerbach

Charles Gromer      Rosemarie Kiser

John Papp        Sue Juronics

Chris Lehamn        Spook Handy

Judi Cox               Pat Gilroy

Mary Chervenak Rolf Arands

Ken Ellis       Ed Levy

Dave Hoch              Fran Jackson and crew

Trink Poynter      Marty Siderer

Gene Gugliotta            Peter Onufryk and Laurie

Judith Samuel          Kavita Panke

Lastly but definitely first as always for the club and for the race is Ray Petit. Ray had many jobs to do and still found the time to do more and more, even dressing up as Pooh Bear and walking the mall with tiger (Mary). We thank you.

Race Results

If you want to see your results in the newsletter, please submit them to Kathy and Carl Rocker. Race results can also be submitted to Carl via e-mail.


Contact We Care 5K 8/21

Fanwood, NJ

  • Mark Strawn 22:43
  • Rosemarie Strawn 29:45

CJRRC Fall Classic 5 Miler 9/6

Cranford, NJ

Haybale 25K 10/2

Branchburg, NJ

  • Chris Lehman 1:44:58
    • 1st 45–49
  • Jennifer Stachula 1:47:17
    • 2nd Female
  • Myrna Rosal 1:56:54
    • 1st 35–39
  • Pati Rosen 1:59:32
    • 1st 40–44

Lightning 5K 9/12

Edison, NJ

  • John Papp 17:47
    • 3rd 35–59
  • Dave Hoch 18:12
    • 2nd 40–44
  • Spook Handy 18:45
  • Ken Vercammen 19:38
  • Myrna Rosal 20:03
    • 2nd Overall!
  • Julian Zammit 21:29
  • Paul Krentar 21:43
  • Jill Knorr 21:56
  • Mark Strawn 22:23
  • Dana Gross 23:11
  • Rosemarie Strawn 27:52

ITC Triathlon 9/18

14K mountain bike – 2K canoe – 5K run

Mt. Olive, NJ

  • Carl Rocker 1:19:35

Liberty Waterfront 1/2 Marathon 9/26

Jersey City, NJ

  • Gregory Mullins 1:17:37
  • Pat Cosgrove 1:27:03
    • 1st 55–59!
  • Gene Gugliotta 1:28:11
  • Jennifer Stachula 1:28:44
  • John Papp 1:30:33
  • Spook Handy 1:39:23
  • Meggan Page 1:40:18
  • Jill Knorr 1:40:46
  • Patrick Kelly 1:41:??
  • Dana Gross 1:58:55

Liberty Waterfront 5K 9/26

Jersey City, NJ

  • Myrna Rosal 20:23
    • 1st Female!

Corning Wineglass Marathon 10/3

Corning, NY

  • Mary Chervenak 3:12:41
    • PR by 7:27!

Men’s 8K XC Championship 10/10

Deer Path Park

  • Mark Zamek 27:53
  • Roger Price 28:36
    • 1st 50–54
  • Chris Lehman 31:33
  • Spook Handy 31:54
  • Gene Gugliotta 32:04
  • Dave Hoch     32:23
  • Jorge Rivera 33:13
  • Paul Krentar 38:43
    • 3rd 55–59

Women’s 5K XC Championship 10/10

Deer Path Park

  • Jennifer Stachula 20:19
  • Pati Rosen 22:35
  • Madeline Bost 26:16

Long Beach Island 18 Miler 10/10

  • Doug Brown 2:02:12
    • 1st 50–59

John C. Ragone 5K 10/17

East Brunswick, NJ

  • Dave Hoch 18:44
    • 4th Overall
  • Ken Vercammen 19:18
    • 2nd 40–44
  • Rosemarie Strawn 28:08

Blackstone 10K 10/17

East Brunswick, NJ

  • Roger Price 36:23
  • Paul Fiorilla 37:41
  • Gene Gugliotta 37:56
  • Carl Rocker 39:04
  • Jorge Rivera 40:14
  • David Brown 44:28
  • Paul Krentar 47:07
  • Jennifer Stachula 39:59
    • 2nd Overall!
  • Myrna Rosal 41:51
    • 4th Overall!
  • Patricia Rosen 44:48
    • 1st 40–44!
  • Don Bergman 48:59
  • Madeline Bost 50:26
    • 1st 60–64!
  • Lois Brown-Klein 55:10

Morning Runs in South Brunswick

Ken Vercammen

Runners wanted for weekday morning training runs on Mondays and Wednesdays. The run will start at 6:40 a.m. and finish at 7:30 a.m. Running pace between 8 and 9:30 per mile, depending on weather and how we feel. Contact Ken Vercammen.

Location: Farrington Lake at Riva Road and Ireland Brook Drive, South Brunswick/East Brunswick border.

Call for Equipment

Have you been harboring something in your closet, your basement, or your garage that you would love to get rid of? Does it belong to RVRR?

During October and November each year, RVRR provides assistance to three area races. All of our equipment (signs, cones, banners, clocks, etc.) are needed to do these jobs, which provide much needed funds for the club. However, many of our signs and cones are "missing in action," and were not available for the events this year. Luckily, other than some runners going off course, no serious consequences resulted.

We would like to "find" these missing pieces, take a complete inventory of our equipment, and begin the new millennium on the right "track." So if you recognized yourself in the first paragraph, please make arrangements for the safe return of RVRR stuff by the end of November. If you can’t get it to the shed on Hardenburg Lane (East Brunswick), then please bring it to a Wednesday night run, or elicit the help of another club member. No questions asked.

And since this is a volunteer non-profit organization, no ransoms will be paid either.

Happy Birthday!

Larry Smith 11/5

Sid Auerbach 11/9

Rich Chouinard 11/11

Mark Strawn 11/11

Robert Hilkert 11/12

Robert Splick 11/15

Dean Shonts 11/16

Pati Rosen 11/18

Dianne Thomas 11/20

Bob Gambogi 11/23

Bill Pape 11/23

Derek Rieckhoff 11/23

Louise Fama 11/24

David Kuderka 11/24

Patrick Cosgrove 11/25

John Pretzell 11/25

Cherie Marie Twardus 11/26

Wendy Wagner 11/29

Peter Fama 11/30

Welcome New Members

Gayle Domanski South River

David French Edison

Jerry Parness Edison

RVRR Homepage