WESTFIELD, NJ — More than 2,600 runners participated in the 12th Annual Downtown Westfield 5K & Pizza Extravaganza July 24. Participants and spectators enjoyed an evening of running, pizza, prizes, DJ entertainment and live music by Michael Craig Band & FOG as well as jazz bands participating in the Sweet Sounds Downtown Jazz Festival.
More people attended this “Pizza Race” than in any year past, announced Doug Harris of Trinitas Regional Medical Center shortly before the 5K began. The event is one of the largest non-corporate 5K races in the New Jersey.
“This is our 12th year of an absolutely great event,” said Dominick Verdic, chairman of the Downtown Westfield Corporation. The DWC's mission is to make Westfield a preferred destination where people want to live, work and visit by promoting activities that complement existing businesses and service.
Just past the finish line, 25 volunteers from the Westfield Jaycees handed out slices from more than 700 pizzas purchased at a discount from Casa di Pizza, Cosimos and Ferraro’s and 5,200 cookies donated by ShopRite of Garwood.
“The Westfield Jaycees are thrilled to once again be a part of the annual Pizza Run,” said Westfield Jaycees President David Tepp. "This event epitomizes the generosity of so many local citizens and organizations. We are thrilled to contribute to the cause.”
Proceeds from the race will be earmarked for Downtown Westfield streetscape improvements, such as new street lights, sidewalks, crosswalks and landscaping. Some ran for other causes, as well.
“There is so much good that comes from exercise and healthy living,” said Jenifer Wirtshafter, owner of Jeni-Fit, who participated in the race with her team of nearly 40 people. “Team Jeni-Fit worked hard to prepare for the Westfield 5K Pizza Race. Everyone has taken the time to train and raise money for Parkinson's Disease in honor of one of our team members who struggles with this disease, and who is doing the race with us. Jeni-Fit offers a variety of classes that get results. Whether you are looking to win a race or shed unwanted pounds, our goal at Jeni-Fit is to help you reach yours. The fact that we raised over one-thousand, eight hundred dollars to date for the Michael J. Fox Foundation is an amazing bonus."
Many remarked on the beautiful weather that evening.
“The course seemed shorter this year, maybe because it was cooler than last year,” said Scott Pyfer of the law firm Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper, P.C.
“It’s an event we look forward to, and we do it every year,” said Lois Menkin of Westfield, who ran the 5K race with her husband, Eric. “We work our vacation around the 5K race.”
“This is a fabulous yearly event, and a great event for the community,” said Cynthia Alexander of Plainfield. “Westfield has a wonderful downtown, and the 5K race keeps Westfield in the limelight.”
“It’s a great race, and I enjoy being a part of the festivities each year,” said Bruce Gladstone of Westfield, who has participated in all twelve races.
Rhoda and Ike Blake from Somerset County have attended every race since its inception. “It’s an awesome experience,” said Rhoda Blake. “We thoroughly enjoy ourselves.”
Former Westfield resident Meg Mehorter returns to town each year to organize the race.
“We’re really lucky,” said Mehorter. “This is a grand and glorious night for a magnificent race. Look around—everyone is really enjoying themselves.”
At the corner of Elm and Quimby Street, David and Lorena Barbosa of David’s Realty were meeting and greeting folks attending the festivities.
“It’s a great event, and we’re one of the sponsors,” said David Barbosa. “Westfield is certainly a fine community, and this is a very special evening. We’re thrilled to be a vital part of the festivities.”
Sponsors included Trinitas Regional Medical Center; Barnabas Health-Saint Barnabas Medical Center; Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey; Overlook Medical Center; Stop & Shop, Advanced Wellness of Westfield; Capital One Bank; David Realty Group; Drew-Rodgers; Get in Shape for Women; JAG Physical Therapy; Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper; Morgan Stanley; Summit Medical Group; Trenk DiPasquale; UBS Financial Services; Wells Fargo Advisors; Westfield Running Company; Westfield Pediatric Dental Group; Creative Dental Care, P.A.; The Office Beer Bar & Grill; PSE&G; Spencer Savings Bank; Thomas Burns, DMD, P.A.; Farmers Insurance - Partners Agency & Associates LLC; and State Farm Insurance Christine Cosenza Agency.
To see more photos from the 5K and Pizza Extravaganza, visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestfieldTAP.