BELMAR/LAKE COMO, NJ — For several hours yesterday morning, Belmar’s summer beach traffic yielded to nearly 2,500 participants who flooded Ocean Avenue for one of the Jersey’s Shore longest-running road races.

Now in its 43rd year, the Belmar Five Mile Run on July 13 stretched along its traditional route, taking a sea of runners, joggers and walkers along Ocean Avenue — beginning from Silver Lake at Fifth Avenue south to North Boulevard around Lake Como. They returned north along Ocean Avenue to Sixth Avenue, where they circled around Silver Lake back to Fifth Avenue.

And what a picture-perfect morning it was along the scenic route, as a light ocean breeze somewhat tempered the sun blazing down from the blue, cloudless skies.

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When it was all over, it would be more than the sun that would shine on one particular group among  some 225 Belmar residents who participated in the run. Making the borough proud with their performances were three seasoned citizens, ranging in age from 72 to 80.

In the male 70-74 age category, Jack Bleach, 72, came out on top with a time of 40:47, earning him the 392nd overall best finish. Robert Conaty, 75, placed third in the male 75-79 category, with a time of 56:46. And Howard Edelman, 80, was the overall winner in the male 80-99 category, crossing the finish line at 1:03:44.

On the other end of the age spectrum for Belmar, Max Manganiello, 16, placed fourth in the 14-19 age category and 32nd overall with a time of 29:21. It was the best time for all borough finishers.

Don Griffin, 50, was the top male finisher for Belmar in the 50-54 age category with a time of 32:33. He ranked 85 among all participants.

As for Belmar women, Christen McCafferty, 37, had the fifth best time at 38:39 in the female 35-39 age category and 278 overall. In the female age 50-54 category, Sandra Bolton, 50, came in second with a time of 36:43 and Vivian McKenna, 53, had the fifth best time of 40:21. Bolton’s overall finish was 199 and McKenna’s was 361.

Topping Lake Como's 14 participating residents was Ken Kropac, 45, who placed second in the male 45-49 age category and 62nd place overall. His time was 31:24.

Outpacing the entire pack was Kieran Sutton of Philadelphia who was the top finisher with a time of 24:49. The top female finisher was Clara Peterson of Corte Madera, Calif., with a time of 28:05, who placed 15th overall. For a complete list of participants, click here.

Belmar’s all-volunteer Goodwill Hose Company presents the annual event as a major fundraiser, in conjunction with the Borough of Belmar and the Jersey Shore Running Club.

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