ROXBURY, NJ - Roxbury resident Justin Scheid’s training paid off with a win in Monday’s Roxbury Merry Heart Community Benefit 5K race.
Scheid, running as a tuneup for next Monday’s President’s Cup 5K in Millburn, finished in first place with a time of 15:39, representing a 5:02-mile pace.
“I’ve been getting a lot of mileage in over the last several weeks,” Scheid said. Before the President’s Cup, “I wanted to get one good run in. And I live in Roxbury, so it’s nice to run the local courses.”
Scheid, 30, said he’s been running between 60 and 70 miles per week recently, or about eight to 10 miles a day. He accomplishes some of this at the track at Horseshoe Lake Park and the rest by going on long runs around the area.
The race's fastest female this year was 11-year-old Gabriella Daskalova of Succasunna who ran the 3.1 miles in 21:04.
Race organizer Jim Schulz said the performance he remembered most from races in the event’s past came in 2013, when Collin Frost set a course record with a time of 15:51.
“It was a perfect running day, he came with a perfect stride,” Schulz recalled. “I wish I could do that. It’s been a long time.”
Youseff Rochdi shattered that mark with a blistering 15:19 the next year.
But people continue to show up for the eighth annual event for more than just brilliant athletic feats.
“It’s a family-oriented race,” Schulz said. “We have a family discount, it’s phenomenal. Four people for 55 bucks is unheard of. So it’s a good price for a family to come out and encourage the kids to run, walk, whatever, to stay active and be healthy.”
Single entrants from Roxbury could sign up for $20, while non-residents would pay $23. “We keep it on the lower end on purpose,” Schulz said. “Because you’ve got to come out and enjoy.”
The energy around the course is a selling point for serious runners like Scheid as well.
“I feel like it’s nicer than just running loops through the park across the street (at Horseshoe Lake),” Scheid said. “It’s nice to kind of go through the community. And it’s fun that there’s a lot of turns on it. It keeps it interesting, because straight lines after a while just kind of gets boring.”
Plus, the crowd surrounding the course are always willing to cheer and encourage runners as they pass.
“Having these guys up front the whole time, having people pushing you, is a good feeling,” Scheid said. “So it’s nice to come to a race where you’re not out front by yourself, just pushing yourself.”
This year’s event drew 667 entrants, Schulz said, a rebound from last year’s rain-soaked 510. That should generate $8,000 to $10,000 for the St. Therese Building Fund, Roxbury Project Graduation, the town’s fire department first aid squad, social services and daycare programs, he said.
Scheid offered two final reasons why the event remains so popular with town residents.
“I mean they do everything really well. Even the snacks after the race are awesome,” Scheid said, laughing. “And there’s not too many races that are on like a week night...I’m so used to doing Saturday morning, Sunday morning races. It’s nice to have something different.”