WESTFIELD, NJ — Coronavirus has prompted numerous cancelations. Downtown Westfield’s annual Pizza Run, however, is not one of them.
Nearly 350 runners registered for this year’s virtual and socially distanced version of the town’s traditional 5K and Pizza Extravaganza, which wrapped with the give-away of 50 pizzas on Sunday, organizers said.
The top male finisher Jack Maranz, 18, of Westfield, completed the race with a time of 17:16; while the top female finisher Samantha Salz, 17, also of Westfield, logged a time of 19:34.
For their participation, runners received a $3 coupon for a slice, said race director Sam Tooley, who noted that pies are a major part of the tradition for the race, which this year shifted its focus to assist local businesses struggling due to COVID-19.
“As a local runner I felt we needed to do something, and as a local business owner feeling the heat during COVID,” Tooley said. “The intention of the race was to raise funds for those businesses in need.”
The race results were recorded by the Trackster cell phone application, allowing runners to race any time before Sunday.
“The point was more about getting out there to keep the tradition living rather than posting a fast time,” Tooley said.
The 50 free pizzas were given away in the form of “golden ticket” coupons for people who ordered from any downtown pizzeria and were automatically entered in the contest, organizers said.
Outta Hand Pizza was one among the eight pizzerias in the downtown that participated. Owner Burim Regjaj said that by Tuesday between 40 and 50 runners had redeemed their $3 coupons.
“It went extremely well,” Regjaj said. “We had a huge response by the people — all the participants.”
Bob Zuckerman, executive director of the Downtown Westfield Corporation, said that while different from last year, this year's race was a success.
“We profited twice as much as we did last year with funds going into downtown beautification,” Zuckerman added. “Our hats are off to Coach Sam Tooley for successfully leading this virtual 5K and to all of those who joined into the effort to support our local businesses: our generous sponsors, our fundraising teams and every single participant.”
Want to know who entered in the race? Click here to view the race roster.
Email Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @MattKadosh
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