NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ–“Welcome to the start!” Race Director, Lou Ann Benson, told about 175 runners and walkers in North Brunswick Community Park at the 38th Annual Memorial Day 5K on Monday.
“Bring the sunshine with you out on the course today,” said Benson.
As the director of parks, recreation and community services for North Brunswick Township, Benson has overseen the event many times before.
She told everyone present that a Memorial Day Ceremony would “be honoring our veterans” at 11 a.m., though it's now held at the newer Veterans Park, which opened in September 2016.
If the rainy morning had anyone weary, the “official warm up,” she said was coming up before the start of the 5K, which included fun stretching and calisthenics, helped set the mood and spirit.
“I would like to thank our fire company who has come out today to support our event, all the volunteers we appreciate that very much,” said Benson. “I’m wishing everyone a great run and walk today.
“Remember you are going through our finish line twice,” added Benson.
While 55-year-old Dayton resident Claudette Klimczack was ecstatic to place 4th in her age group out of ten women, she also won the 40-inch television in the traditional raffle following the race.
“Oh my god,” said Klimczack, as a volunteer loaded the set into the backseat of her car.
As for the race, it was her first official 5K and personal record.
“It was great, a little challenging for me because it was my first one since I came back to running a few months ago,” said Klimczack, who had previously torn a calf muscle.
Her goal was to run a 5K, she said, noting, “I wanted to do it for a good cause, too.”
Donations of canned goods were collected on the morning of the event to support the North Brunswick Food Bank.
A brand new mountain bike was another raffle prize; it went to a smiling, lucky, 8-year-old from Piscataway who happened to speed through the 5K at an average pace of 9-minutes per mile.
“We do [the event] as a family,” said his mother, Karen Thomas, 44, who finished the 5k in well under a half hour.
The prizes were donated by various organizations including: North Brunswick Baseball/Softball Association, North Brunswick Soccer Club, North Brunswick Travel Basketball, and North Brunswick Adams A.C. Football & Cheer.
“The biggest round of applause is to all of you runners and walkers, on a day when you could be home on the couch or in bed, you chose to come out… and get some great exercise,” said North Brunswick Township Council President Carlo Socio, as he began presenting plaques and metals to the many overall male and female age group winners.
Socio also acknowledged participants from North Brunswick’s “Girls on the Move and Boys on the Move” program.
“You went through weeks of training and this was your final culmination,” he said. “Again, congratulations to everyone.”
North Brunswick resident Kyle Price, age 29, was the overall winner, completing the race in 16:52, while East Windsor’s Amy Bernstein, age 38, was the fastest female, finishing in 22:27.
“Congratulations to all or our walkers and runners. You were all winners today, especially in this weather,” added Socio.
The registration fee for both the run and walk was $15 by May 3, or $20 on the day of the event and included a shirt, and automatic entry into the raffle.
This year, only 131 runners crossed the finish line, according to Central New Jersey-based timing and scoring company, BEST Racing Systems, while 31 walkers scored.
By comparison, three years ago, for instance, 237 runners scored, according to Best Racing.
Results can be viewed online at RunSignUp.com.