MONMOUTH BEACH: The Monmouth Beach PTO race was the 21st annual but the first 5K and drew a record 290 runners for the main events - the 5K plus the Dolphin Mile. The once 3-Mile event was stretched to 5K to attract more "conventional" distances and thereby more athletes.
The strategy "worked and then some" said Race Coordinators Jennifer Azzolini and Ann Gilmartin.
The runs were again managed by Jersey Shore Running Club's Phil and Penny Hinck, who love the opportunity to do so each year. Their team of parents and teachers were at the ready with treats, refreshments and a strawberry pancakes breakfast as well as overseeing the course itself. Principal Mr. Ettorre and teacher Ms. Albert were among the runners and finished in close order at 26 minutes and 30 seconds on the time clock.
Jake Howell, Monmouth University crossed the line first in the 5K followed by Riley Gardner and then Drew Maher of home town Monmouth Beach. Female best runners were Marissa Alberta, Long Branch; Kristen Rodgers-Erickson, High Bridge; and Catherine Desousa, Oceanport.
Long Branch Mayor Adams Schneider (at 31:06) was also in the running. He said the 5K was just right after his half-marathon run at the New Jersey Marathon. Another JSRC regular, Long Branch born and raised and now a Neptune City resident, 73-year-old Joe Renzella finished in fine form. The Vietnam veteran just missed his 30-minute target my one minute.
The misty morning air was cool for runners, a little damp for fans. The final competition was the contest for the youngsters, each receiving a bright medal souvenir of the day in the Dolphin Mile.