ANDOVER TOWNSHIP, NJ - More than 100 participants gathered for the first annual "Off the Beaten Track Health Screening & Wellness Event," on Saturday, June 1.
The scenic Kittatinny State Park was the setting for the event, and the first 5K for the groups that coordinated it.
Spearheaded and organized by the Sussex County Chamber of Commerce, the Sussex-Warren Chronic Disease Coalition was a major supporting organization for the happening. Other participating agencies included the County of Sussex, Newton Medical Center, American Cancer Society, Sussex County Chamber of Commerce, NORWESCAP, Sussex County YMCA, SNAP, NJ CEED, TransOptions, Planned Parenthood, The Center for Prevention and Counseling, and Project Self-Sufficiency. The event sponsor was Saint Clare's Health System.
Prior to the 5K, attendees had the opportunity to visit the agencies who had booths there. They could pick up informational packets from everything ranging from fitness and nutrition, to mosquito control, to safety. TransOptions had bike safety helmets they were giving out for free, as well as special reflective bands for walkers and runners to wear while they are out and about, and be noticed by motorists. Free blood pressure and skin cancer screenings were also available on site during the day, as well as small takeaway bottles of sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and lip balms with sunscreen.
"This is what we hope is our first annual 5K, and we hope to make it a marathon in the future," said Tammie Horsfield, president of the Sussex County Chamber of Commerce. "This event is all in the name of wellness."
Horsfield said 5K entrants ranged from the ages of 8 to 80.
The Sussex County Chamber of Commerce has been instrumental in helping to refurbish and maintain county trails, and has its own Trails Committee, with some of the group's members participating on the committee. On the chamber's website, the organization provides a map of the Sussex County trails. Click here
"I'm very excited because this race offers something different than the usual 5K's, because it is in the beautiful Kittatinny State Park," said Tiffany Heineman, who began running 5K's with her boyfriend last fall.
The race took the runners through the park, and other shaded tree cover, with the trail eventually leading back out onto Goodale Road, along the street, before concluding back in the park's parking lot.
Prior to the run, there were warm ups and stretches with YMCA trainers, including Zumba. That was followed by a moment of silence and the National Anthem, sung by Joy Ball.
Andy Ball, who fired the starting gun, and led the race on bicycle, explained to runners half of the course was under trees, and, there were guides along the way to point runners in the proper direction through the network of trails. Sussex County Sheriff Officers were on duty as well, assisting runners across the road, and directing traffic while runners were present.
Before the runners departed, Horsfield gave a special thanks to Eastern Propane, and Rob Nicholson, who spent time cleaning along the trail.
"It's a beautiful morning, and certainly a beautiful run out on our beautiful trails," Nicholson said, as he wished runners luck before they took off.
Justin Scheid of Sparta came in first place. Scheid is frequently a participant at many local 5K's and other races, and has won other races outside of the area (click here
for an article about a half marathon Scheid won in Cincinnati).
Scheid was ahead of all the runners, at 17:15.9, more than two minutes before the second place winner.
When asked about the run and trail, Scheid told The Alternative Press, "It was very nice and clear, it was nice to escape from the sun."
At yesterday's run, even at its early start of 9:30 a.m., the UV index had already climbed between an 8 and 9, with temperatures already in the 80's.
Patrick Sullivan of Hamburg, was the second runner to make his way through, at 19:27.9.
"It was a great course, I liked it a lot even on a hot day," Sullivan said. "I had enough shade."
The third place runner was Gavin DeYoung of Tranquility, who came in at 20:38.
The first female runner to cross the finish line was Alexandra Miller of Sparta, at 22:47.2. Joan Kurminsky, the second female, clocked in at 23:56.5, and Emily Quirk of Andover at 25.23.3 (Heineman, who gave a quote to The Alternative Press before the race, placed fourth among all the women at 27:04.1).
Zachary Ball was the first to come in in the 10 and under category, in seventh place, and at 23:54.7.
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