July 23, 2014 at 9:57 PM
WESTFIELD, NJ - At about 8:15 Wednesday night, lightning crashed and rain began to pour down over Westfield. But until then, downtown was a sea of runners and spectators.
According to the Downtown Westfield Corporation (DWC), about 2,600 runners ranging in age from 4 to 85 from 226 New Jersey towns and 10 states participated in the 13th annual Downtown Westfield 5K & Pizza Extravaganza, also known as the “Pizza Run,” a yearly tradition of running, pizza, prizes and entertainment. Thousands more came to watch the race and enjoy the music of the Michael Craig Band & FOG.
Volunteers with the Westfield Jaycees served hundreds of pizzas from Cosimos, Casa di Pizza and Ferraro’s.
Runners raced as individuals and as teams. JeniFit Studios in Garwood ran to raise money to fight Parkinson’s Disease.
“Team JeniFit has about 45 runners this year and we have raised over $2,000 so far,” said Jenifer Wirtshafter, owner of JeniFit. “One of our team members struggles daily with this disease, so we are in it for her.”
More than 50 members of the Westfield Area Y Flyers track team participated in the race.
“We’re excited to see all the young athletes out here competing and having a good time,” said Greg Hatzisavvas, senior director of wellness and member engagement at the Westfield Area Y. “That’s what it’s all about—just having a good time.”
Sherry Cronin, executive director of the DWC, summed up the Pizza Run as “healthy.”
“It’s healthy for our community, it’s healthy for our runners and healthy for our town,” said Cronin.
Proceeds from the race will be earmarked for Downtown Westfield streetscape improvements, such as new street lights, sidewalks, crosswalks and landscaping.
According to the DWC, the Pizza Run would not be possible without the help of generous sponsors. For the fifth year in a row, Trinitas Regional Medical Center was the Platinum Sponsor. Trinitas Regional Medical Center staff was on hand to share information about their award-winning hospital and lead the race.
Barnabas Health – Saint Barnabas Medical Center, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, Overlook Medical Center and Stop & Shop have returned as Silver Sponsors. City Sports & UBS were new silver sponsors.
Advanced Wellness of Westfield; David Realty Group; Drew & Rogers; JAG Physical Therapy; Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper; Morgan Stanley; Summit Medical Group; Trenk DiPasquale; Westfield Pediatric Dental Group; and Westfield Running Company were returning Bronze Sponsors.
AEPG Wealth Strategies, Anthony James Construction, Gallery U Boutique, Kessler Rehabilitation Center, PSE&G and Westfield Braces (Thomas Burns, DMD, PA) were new bronze sponsors for 2014. Stop & Shop was a co-sponsor of a new finish line banner and City sponsored new barricade banners this year to welcome the runners to the finish line.
Contributing sponsors this year included Spencer Savings Bank and The Office Beer Bar & Grill. State Farm Insurance Christine Cosenza Agency signed up once again as a Supporting Sponsor.