Politicians are always saying they’ll go the distance for their constituents, and in one New Jersey community, they actually mean it.
On Saturday, August 10, several Jersey Shore politicians will face off against four Olympians in the second annual Celebrity Chase, a race-within-a-race at the Belmar Chase 5-K, Runner's World reports.
It works like this: The local politicos get a head start, and the Olympic athletes follow. Start times are staggered according to individual abilities, and as race director Rich Kenah explains, the idea is for everyone to finish the out-and-back run at roughly the same time.
“If the estimated race times are right, we’ll have 12 people in the last 200 meters competing for the finish,” says Kenah. “That’s the fun of it.”
Presumably, the idea of a close race will be nothing new to those in the field. Leading that pack is defending champion Adam Schneider, mayor of nearby Long Branch.
Challenging him for a share of the $7,500 prize money—to be divvied among the towns’ sports and recreation departments—is Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty, a former New Jersey state track champ who, like Kenah, ran for Georgetown University.
Doherty may have the hometown advantage, but Brian Wilton, of neighboring Lake Como, is a veteran triathlete, as is Keyport councilwoman Joy Tomczak, who’s also a former collegiate swimmer.
Chasing them down Ocean Drive will be a pack of four Olympians: Julie Culley, a Clinton native who ran the 5000 meters at the 2012 London Games; Olympic steeplechaser Donn Cabral, who ran for Princeton; Steve Holman, who competed in the 1500 meters at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics; and John Trautmann, who joined Holman on the ’92 U.S. team, running the 5000 meters.
The Belmar Chase 5-K people’s race will begin after the Celebrity Chase, with some 1,500 runner perhaps inspired by their local leaders to dig a little deeper.
If nothing else, the event has helped keep Schneider in shape. "I've never been a defending champ before," he says. "Having the race to look forward to has given me incentive to train hard."
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg