BY HILLARY VIDERS
SPECIAL TO NORTHERN VALLEY PRESS
ENGLEWOOD––On Aug. 6, the Flat Rock Brook Nature Center held its annual “Run in the Wild” 5K race, and competitors and spectators had a glorious day. The weather was a perfect 70 degrees and spirits were soaring.
The “Run in the Wild” 5K trail race is sanctioned by the U.S.A. Track and Field Association, and proceeds from the event support the Flat Rock Brook Nature Center, one of Englewood’s greatest assets. Proceeds from the 5K race help keep the center’s natural resources and learning center in top form and fund its many programs.
As runners registered and picked up their bright blue commemorative T-shirts, former Englewood Councilman Scott Reddin played upbeat music on his boombox. Reddin also served as the race’s buoyant emcee.
Many racers brought their families and friends to cheer them on, and the area behind the main building where refreshment tables had been set up was bustling with over 200 people. The bucolic setting of trees, plants and a scenic pond was a far cry from the stark pavement of most 5K races.
The race was beautifully organized and ran smoothly, thanks to numerous staff members and volunteers. The volunteers greeted the runners and guided them through the course. Flat Rock Brook Nature Center Director Stephen Wiessner, staff members Sandy Pinto and Sandy Chiappino, along with board of trustees President Kathleen Silberstein were busy overseeing various aspects of the event. The medal presentation was handled by Silberstein and trustees Serena Carson and Susan Klausner. The event was truly a team effort.
EMTs from Englewood Hospital and Medical Center were on hand. In addition, Englewood Police Officers Joe Hammond and Adolfo Gutierrez appeared on the scene on their motorcycles.
“We decided to stop by (voluntarily) just to make sure everyone was safe,” said Hammond.
Racing NJ Race Management Services provided the equipment that recorded the runners’ times. Albert Siuta, president of Racing NJ, oversees hundreds of races a year, but he particularly enjoys “Run in the Wild.”
“I came here all the way from Titusville because I like trail races and Flat Rock Brook has a lot to see – a little bit of town, a lot of trails and a lovely museum. Most of all, I came here because the staff at Flat Rock Brook is the easiest group to work with, ever,” Siuta said.
Northern Valley Press was proud to be a sponsor of this year’s “Run in the Wild.” Additional sponsors were Suez, Whole Foods, Benzel Busch, Malesardi, Quackenbush, Swift & CO. LLC, Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International/Marilyn Budnick Realtor, NVE Bank, Susan and Neal Klausner, Serena and Rob Carson and TD Bank.
At 8:15 a.m., the racers began to assemble at the starting line at the foot of the paved path leading to the visitor center on Van Nostrand Avenue. At 8:30, Reddin blasted the starting horn and the 128 competitors dashed off. After a short sprint up the road, the group ran through the woods of the 150-acre preserve.
For many participants, this was their first trail run, and they found the scenic terrain both exhilarating and challenging. The race’s tag line, “This ain’t no walk in the park!” lived up to its reputation. Some of the trails had rocks and branches that required some fancy footwork, and there were numerous hills and narrow passages that snaked through the densely wooded terrain.
Dan Green, the first place finisher who came from Clifton, said, “There aren’t a lot of trail races around, and this one is really challenging. The trail is very narrow and steep.”
Fifty-two-year-old Dave Reed called the run “the most beautiful and most brutal race” that he’s ever done.
By 9:30 a.m., most of the racers had completed the course. And at 10:30 a.m., medals were awarded in several categories: First, second and third place overall man and woman and first, second and third place winners in eight different age categories from 12 years of age to 65 and older.
The top male finisher was Dan Green, age 24, who broke his record time for his first place win last year, with a time of 19 minutes, 13.1 seconds. The first woman to cross the finish line was Tanya Marion with a time of 24 minutes, 51.2 seconds.
The youngest medalist was 12-year-old Ivan Tomochko, who was elated when Silberstein presented him with his medal.
Marion did not seem at all exhausted from the arduous run. Neither did Amanda Kearney, a 17 year old who placed second. Kearney runs track at Teaneck High School, but prefers the excitement of a 5K trail race.
Fifty-three-year-old Wendy Kerr was delighted at her third place win, explaining, “I took up running about 20 years ago because I wanted to lose all the weight that I had gained when I was going to school at night while raising my children. I lost 25 pounds running, and I’ve been running ever since.”
After the race, everyone enjoyed fruit, water and protein bars and socialized.
Neal Klausner, a race sponsor and also a participant, was delighted with the turnout and the enthusiasm of the runners and spectators: “It was an awesome run, a beautiful park, and a great way to show off Flat Rock Brook!”