The biggest challenge for runners over the 13 years of the Verizon Corporate Classic 5K hasn’t been hills, traffic or speedy rivals.
It’s been weather.
A ferocious storm shut down last year’s race, and 2013 was so blazing hot that the event was downgraded to an untimed fun run for everyone’s safety.
There were some anxious officials before Thursday’s race, too, with a severe thunderstorm warning in effect. But Mother Nature relented, and dark clouds and a spritz of raindrops helped knock a couple of degrees off the steamy temperature for 4,400 runners representing 120 companies.
“It was very sweaty and muggy, and very straight, which can be mentally draining,” said Riker Danzig attorney Ashley Higginson, who won the women’s division with a 17:12 time. “But it was really nice to see how many people came out for this.”
Construction in Morristown this year prompted Verizon to introduce a new course, from Maple Avenue in Morristown down Mt. Kemble Avenue in Morris Township, and back the same way.
Slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin
While he missed the cheering crowds that lined prior routes, Chris Volinsky of Morris Township said he liked racing upstream against a sea of runners on the return loop.
“Surprisingly, I enjoyed that. It made the boringness of the track go down a little easier,” said Volinsky, who finished in just under 30 minutes.
Sections of about a dozen roads, mostly in Morristown, were closed to traffic about a half hour before the 7:30 pm race.
Morristown council members plan to meet this month with people from the racing community to discuss standardizing routes to minimize disruptions for residents, churches and businesses.
Kyle Price of North Brunswick posted Thursday’s best time, 16:25. Second place went to Joe Mummert of Ramsey, at 16:31. Next came Morristown resident Liam Boylan-Pett (16:44), who is Higginson’s boyfriend.
They met at a college race; he ran for Columbia, she ran for Princeton. The Lion and the Tiger both stayed with the leaders for a good while on Thursday.
“Then they kind of hammered me,” Higginson said.
Diana D’Achille was second in the women’s division with an 18:33 time. Karen Auteri of Belvidere was third at 18:38.
Verizon donated a portion of race proceeds to the Jersey Battered Women’s Service.