On the sunny, austere first cold day of autumn, 60 runners toed the starting line of the Back to Schooley’s five- and 10-mile races trail races.
John Sellers of Long Valley won the 5-mile race in 37:54, nine minutes ahead of the second place finisher. Finishing in 53:33, Donna Gowdy of Sussex was the female winner.
In the ten-mile event, Dominic Grillo of Somerset beat the next finisher by over 11 minutes. Alecia Gersh was the first woman, with a winning time of 1:54.
Staged in Schooley’s Mountain Park in Long Valley, the race course was deceptive. After serpentine tour through a nearly flat meadow, the race loop grew progressively steeper and more difficult. After topping out on the edge of a dammed pond, the final 500 meters led around the pond, along a short stretch of pavement, and finally up a grassy hill to the finish. Ten-mile competitors ran two laps.
For your correspondent, once around this course was plenty. From about mile two to the final half-mile, it’s as technical as anything you could ask for. In the last 1.5 miles, the miserable footing made it hard to go full throttle uphill. Rocks and dead, golden leaves created minefields that made me circumspect about hammering downhill. While one can always use more vertical gain, this looks to be a great place to train for the Escarpment Race without driving to the Catskills. Full results posted on the NJ Trail Series website.