MORRISTOWN, NJ - Despite the dreary weather conditions, thousands of cyclists traveled to Morristown for the 8th annual Gran Fondo marathon on Sept. 9, starting near the Morristown Green. Originally started
by Marty Epstein, owner of Marty’s Reliable Cycle, this event benefits multiple charities including The Seeing Eye, Inc., Grow it Green Morristown, Homeless Solutions Inc. and The New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition.

The event, which began at 7 a.m., featured five different route lengths ranging from 18 miles through 107 miles encompassing Morris County and some parts of Hunterdon County.Riders who chose the longest route ride  through towns such as Far Hills, Tewksbury and Milford.

Several local officials and special guests attended the event’s grand opening ceremony and addressed the crowd before the start of the race.

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Ivan Basso, award winning cyclist and cancer survivor was first to speak prior to the start of the event. He says that cycling helped him beat cancer and remain cancer free since 2015.

“Today is a special day, we ride for enjoyment, and to feel happy but the message also applies to fighting cancer. From my side I can say that bike riding helped me a lot because it helped me believe in myself,” he said. “And the key to fighting cancer is to believe in yourself.”

Federal prosecutor and former navy pilot Mikie Sherell also spoke at the event. She reflected on the success of Gran Fondo NJ as well as the beauty of Morristown itself.

“This event represents all that is great about Morristown” said Sherell

Mayor Timothy Dougherty also attended the opening ceremony to welcome the participants and
to thank the organizers of the event. While individuals were allowed to participate solo in the marathon, most chose to organize teams in order to raise funds for multiple charities.

Due to the extensive number of participants, the race is broken down into four different groups, each starting a few minutes apart. Rest stops are also set up along the route to provide rides with a wide assortment of fresh fruits, along with special feature foods supplied by an event caterer or by local cafes and bakeries. This year’s sponsors were Trek, Pactimo, Atlantic Health Systems and Jamis Bikes.

Gran Fondo NJ has grown significantly over the years and has even been ranked over of the top 3 Gran Fondos by the Gran Fondo Guide.