ROXBURY, NJ – Jim Schulz, the director of the Roxbury Community Benefit 5K Run, stresses that the June 1 race is a family-friendly event. It’s inexpensive and the focus is on fun and raising money for local non-profits.
But it is a race. And, for some, a race – even the most homespun and low-key – is a battle.
So let’s get down to business, Roxbury runners. Are you ready to battle?
Last year, the fastest Roxbury runner was fleet-footed 35-year-old Maria Danna of Kenvil who crossed the finish line about one second over 18 minutes and came in sixth overall. You can bet there weren’t too many thoughts of family friendliness in her mind as she pounded out those miles, beating Randolph’s Jake Adler, who was about half her age, by 13 scant seconds.
The course is described by veteran runner, running blogger and race helper Madeline Bost as “very fast.” They once called the area Succasunn Plains, so most of the route is lacking in serious ups and downs.
The course starts at Eisenhower Middle School and, as Bost describes it, the route “winds its way through the neighborhoods of Succasunna to Hillside Avenue and ends back at the middle school after passing through the high school campus.”
It’s a path that allowed Morris Plains elite runner Youseff Rochdi to blaze across the finish last year in a mere 15.19.77. To do so, and set a course record, the Moroccan native cleared the 3.1 miles at an average speed of 4.56 minutes per mile.
Rochdi will be here again. If you’ve been training hard and harbor fantasies about giving him a challenge he won’t forget, there’s still plenty of time to sign up. Need more motivation? How about the fact that Roxbury residents pay $20, three dollars less than non-residents?
Tough talk aside, the event really is a family and community affair. This is clearly proven by the fact that families of four signing-up ahead of race day get an additional discount and pay just $55. Each extra family member gets to run for only $15. (Families are defined as parents and dependent children.)
“Right now we have just over 300 people signed up,” said Schulz. “We usually get 100 to 120 on race day … There should be around 600 by race day.”
That level of participation means the event will raise about $7,000 to be donated by event organizer Morris County Striders to Roxbury High School Project Graduation, Roxbury fire department and first aid squads, Roxbury Social Services, the Roxbury Day Care Center and the Kiwanis scholarship fund, said Schulz.
“We actually want to focus on the kids,” said Schulz, a Succasunna resident active in local activities including Boy Scout Troop 159 and Roxbury Recreation track and cross country programs. “We are focusing on community and kids doing something healthy.”
Registration starts at the middle school gym at 5 p.m. and the running starts at 7 p.m.
Afterward, participants can indulge on free pizza from Dominos, free ice cream from Cliff’s Dairy Maid, free water from ShopRite and free fruit from Ledgewood and Wharton Farms. The souvenir T-shirts come from Dezine Line of Ledgewood. Planet Fitness is giving each runner a free digital photo of themselves in action.
While the focus is on children, Rost noted seniors are not forgotten. In fact, there is 85-and-up age division. "The race attracts the senior runners as well as the youngsters” she said, noting that 85-year-old Patricia Tummey of Randolph finished in 55:03 last year and 82-year-old Arch Seamans of Rockaway finished in 41:37.