NEWTON – Runners and walkers in all age groups took their feet to the streets of Newton yesterday, for the first Newton Pride 5K Stride.
Most runners were attired in their running gear, while some were festive for the upcoming Halloween holiday, and trekked through town in costume.
Race coordinator, Andy Ball, of Main Street Events, was dressed as Santa Claus, and led the runners through the course via bicycle, as Old Saint Nick.
The participants registered adjacent to the Newton High School track, where the race began. They observed a moment for Joy Ball’s acapella version of the National Anthem, before returning to stretching, in preparation of the race.
Andy Ball fired the starting gun, and the group was off. The runners proceeded then from the track, onto Ryerson Avenue, and ran or walked through nearby streets, before reaching the finish line at the corner of the high school property by the tennis courts.
The Newton Pride 5K Stride benefitted the Newton Pride Foundation. The Newton Pride Foundation, a 501(c) 3 organization, is a fundraising arm to assist in raising funds for the schools. The synthetic turf field at the high school was one of the results of the group’s fundraising efforts.
Newton Public Schools Superintendent Dr. G. Kennedy Greene spoke with NJ Inside Scene about the foundation and its achievements.
The foundation started at Newton High School in 1994. The group was instrumental in contributing towards the school’s state-of-the-art fitness center, purchasing sound equipment, refurbishing band equipment, and helping with funds for the alumni directory and scholarship fund.
The Hall of Fame, located outside of the high school auditorium, was a project the group began in 1998, which recognizes distinguished Newton High School alumni.
“They [Newton Pride Foundation] reenergized themselves over they last two years when they started talking about the turf field project,” Greene said.
That portion of the project was phase one, which was officially completed in Aug. 2013. Construction began in June 2012, with the field completed in Sept. 2012, and the track fully resurfaced this past August. All of the components included: the synthetic turf field, resurfaced track, and new lighting, drainage, end zone screens, and scoreboard.
The Newton Pride Foundation is seeking help to complete phases two and three – which would include new tennis courts, a basketball court, and new synthetic field for baseball, softball, lacrosse, field hockey, and football (practice and JV). The current tennis courts at the high school, Greene said, would be converted into a parking area.
Greene said the tennis team currently competes at the Merriam Avenue School, where there are three courts, which are needed for competition play.
At yesterday’s race to help raise funds for all of these undertakings, the athletes began rolling in about 20 minutes after the start. Gavin DeYoung, age 15, of Tranquility, was the first finisher, with a time of 20:40.3, with second place Sean Bolduc, age 18, of Newton, with the same time.
Ryan Holzhauer of Andover, age 15, came in third place at 12:15.7.
Rose Ippolito of Newton, age 15, a tenth grader at the high school who has already broken records in track during her freshman year, crossed the finish line first for the ladies, at 21:36.7.
The second place female in the race was Debbie Jennings of Newton, age 51, at 23:44.8. Behind her was Joan Kurminsky of Andover Township, also age 51, at 25:08.4.
There were 87 runners yesterday representing all age groups, from across the county, and some from beyond. Some came from nearby counties, including Warren and Passaic. The youngest registered was eight-years-old. The eldest, Elizabeth Legon from Hackettstown, is 99, the only registrant in the 80 and over category, and she finished at 56:02.3. The person who registered the furthest from the area was Jack Lowe, age 74, from Knoxville, Tenn., who finished at 49:41.
Click here for full race results.
For information about the Newton Pride Foundation, click here.