Runners duck raindrops on new Verizon 5K route through Morristown, Morris Township

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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.

NO, THEY'RE NOT WEB HOSTS: Miho Wald and daughters Eri, 5, and Hana, 8, of Long Hill are cheering for Michael Wald at the Verizon Corporate Classic 5K in Morristown, July 13, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
NO, THEY’RE NOT WEB HOSTS: Miho Wald and daughters Eri, 5, and Hana, 8, of Long Hill are cheering for Michael Wald at the Verizon Corporate Classic 5K in Morristown, July 13, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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

Some 4,400 people participated in the Verizon Corporate Classic 5K in Morristown, July 13, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Miho Wald and daughters Eri, 5, and Hana, 8, of Long Hill cheer for Michael Wald at the Verizon Corporate Classic 5K in Morristown, July 13, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The starting line at the Verizon Corporate Classic 5K in Morristown, July 13, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Welcoming runners to the Verizon Corporate Classic 5K in Morristown, July 13, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Chris Volinsky of Morris Township at the Verizon Corporate Classic 5K in Morristown, July 13, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Women's winner Ashley Higginson gives an interview at the Verizon Corporate Classic 5K in Morristown, July 13, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Liam Boylan-Pett, third in the men's division, and women's winner Ashley Higginson, at the Verizon Corporate Classic 5K in Morristown, July 13, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
IN THE MONEY: Liam Boylan-Pett and Ashley Higginson, who met at a college race, finished third and first in their respective divisions at the Verizon Corporate Classic 5K in Morristown, July 13, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Union Catholic High School student Andre Rodriguez finished fifth at the Verizon Corporate Classic 5K in Morristown, July 13, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kim Pistner of the Morris Educational Foundation the Verizon Corporate Classic 5K in Morristown, July 13, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Some 120 companies were represented at the Verizon Corporate Classic 5K in Morristown, July 13, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Awaiting start of the Verizon Corporate Classic 5K in Morristown, July 13, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
MorristownGreen.com photographer Penny Lopez between shots at the Verizon Corporate Classic 5K in Morristown, July 13, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Moments before the start of the Verizon Corporate Classic 5K in Morristown, July 13, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Strange running attire, at the Verizon Corporate Classic 5K in Morristown, July 13, 2017. Mr. Met, Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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P1550199 - Some 4,400 people participated in the Verizon Corporate Classic 5K in Morristown, July 13, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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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.

COMPLETE RACE RESULTS

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