SPARTA, NJ – Known as “The Sparta Tradition Before The Tradition,” people arrived early Thursday morning to participate in the sixth annual Sparta Turkey Trot 5K Race, and 1 Mile Fun Run (for participants ages five and over), before their own Thanksgiving celebrations.
The race was sponsored by Krogh’s Restaurant, and benefitted the Sparta Education Foundation.
The Sparta Education Foundation is a non-profit arm, which helps to raise funds for the Sparta Township Schools. Click here for the group’s website.
The race attracted almost 2,000 runners, prompting participants and spectators to jokingly question if there was an early black Friday sale locally with the large crowd. Compared to the last few races in the area, conditions were favorable for fast times.
Runners from the roster were from around Sussex County, and surrounding counties, with some racers as far away as the states of Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, Oregon, and California, with one participant listed from Great Britain.
Many racers finished, and expressed they ran a PR (Personal Record).
The race winner and other runners with a GPS logged the course at three miles, not 3.1 miles (a true 5K).
The race started at Krogh’s Restaurant, proceeded along East Shore Trail, turned at Spear Terrace, and finished back at Krogh’s Restaurant.
The relatively flat course let the lead pack go out fast, and 26-year-old Gian-Paul Caccia from New York, N.Y. crossed the line in first place with a time of 14:27.0.
Local runner Justin Scheid, age 27 of Sparta, was a close second with a time of 14:37.1. Third top finisher was Steve Soprano, of Flagstaff, Ariz., with a time of 14:38.5.
Caccia stated, "The course reminded me of running in Central Park with the up and down through the course."
Caccia's girlfriend previously worked at Krogh's, the reason why he came in for the race, and he said he planned to race before celebrating Thanksgiving.
His Personal Record is 14:15 for a 5K, so he is on track to potentially run well at his next race.
The Alternative Press asked if he enjoyed racing with a huge number of runners.
"Running in races in New York City sometimes has over 5,000 to 10,000 people, Caccia replied. “I try to get to the starting line early. I'm used to the crowds.”
Caccia is currently running with the New York Athletic Club, and is training for the Cross Country Nationals this December in Kentucky.
The first female was Nicole Falcaro, age 25, of New York, N.Y., with a time of 17:39.4; second place was Carly Zinner 18 years old, of Sussex, at 17:43.9, and third place was Kait Cheqwidden of Hamburg, age 22, with a time of 17:59.8.
Although the top results were posted fairly soon, the complete results were delayed, and the majority of the racers left before the
awards ceremony. The large number of finishers was the reason for the delay of the results.
Click here for the complete race results.
Trophies were awarded to the top overall male and female 5K participants, as well as floral bouquets to the top male and female in each category (flowers donated by the Lake Mohawk Flower Company). Fun Run participants each received ribbons.
With the continued annual growth of this race, it is now considered one of the largest races in the area.
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