Surf City Lifeguard Bigos Delivers Encore in 18 Mile Run

Male and Female Marathoners Finish in Same Minute
By DAVID BIGGY | Oct 10, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Chris Bigos crosses the finish line in first place during the Long Beach Island 18 Mile Commemorative Run on Oct. 7.

Chris Bigos had a heck of a couple of months on the competition front. In August, he teamed with Surf City Beach Patrol rowing partner Mark Dileo to win the five-mile Van Duyne race in the annual Barnegat Bay Challenge. On Sunday, Oct. 7, he delivered an encore.

“It’s been a good year for me, that’s for sure,” said the 35-year-old athlete, who narrowly won the Long Beach Island 18 Mile Commemorative Run with a time of 1 hour, 53 minutes, 17.43 seconds.

“I had a real blast, coming back to lifeguarding for the summer and now winning this. My Uncle Gerry passed away in August; and my dad was here today. So I wanted to win it for him.”

Bigos, who is training for the New York Marathon, got out to the front early on, and started pulling away from the lead group during the fourth mile. Yet he wasn’t ever comfortably in the lead. Margaret Vido made sure he didn’t get far away.

“She ran a great race,” Bigos said. “At the beginning, I heard somebody behind me, and I could tell it was guy talking her through the first few miles and setting her up. For the first nine miles, I was trying to stay around a 6:05 pace. And when I looked back, around mile 14, she was still there. I was hurting at that point, but I had to go that last four miles and fight through it.”

At the six-mile mark, Bigos held a slight lead of about 15 seconds. At that point, Vido was running alongside her husband, Michael, who she said was running for the first time in several months since an injury. Eventually, Bigos and Vido left the field behind; she trailed him by less than a half-minute through the 11th mile.

By mile 12, the gap was 27 seconds. At mile 15, that lead had dissipated to 17 seconds and Vido’s leg speed was slightly quicker as the leaders headed toward Barnegat Light.

“Having him right in front of me helped a lot,” said Vido, 27, who was training for the Philadelphia Marathon and running the 18 Mile Run for the first time. “He had the bright orange hat on and the police car in front of him, so that helped me stay focused. During the 16th mile, I was creeping up on him. It was tough keeping that pace at that point. I was hoping to catch him, but I fell off at the end.”

Not by much, though. When Bigos cut the winner’s tape at the finish line, Vido was just making the turn into the Barnegat Lighthouse State Park entrance. She finished about 17 seconds behind Bigos, in 1:53:34.73 – the fastest finish for a female winner since Compuscore began computerized timing of the race in 1999. Whether Vido’s time is a women’s course record is a mystery.

“My parents have a house on the Island and I’ve done the Dog Day Race in the past,” she said. “But I’m usually not around for this race. I was able to be here this year, and I’m really happy with how it turned out.”

As she should be. Vido, who is also attempting to qualify for the Olympic trials, is at the top of the leaderboard of women who have cracked the overall top 10 during the past 20 years. In 2003, Philadelphia’s Abby Dean finished ninth overall in 1:59:57, but another female runner didn’t hit the top-10 until eight years later.

Interestingly, in 2011 – when Kelly Ciravolo of Shavertown, Pa., took seventh in 1:58:42.94 – Bigos, who was 28 at the time, finished third overall in 1:52:31.81. Since 2011, a female runner has finished among the top nine every year, with Parsippany’s Chelzea Crytzer reaching the previous high of fourth in 2014, when she finished in 1:55:12.31. Besides Dean, Ciravolo, Crytzer and now Vido, only two other women have cleared the course in less than two hours: Colleen Tindall, who did it twice (2012, 2015), and former Jackson Memorial High School distance star Amanda Marino (2013).

Behind Bigos and Vido, finishing in third-place with a time of 1:56:52.27 on Sunday, was Martin Rodriguez of Selbyville, Del., who just happened to bring a friend to the race for the first time. Kelly Tingle finished 21st overall, but may have had the most heartwarming finish among the 460 who completed the race.

“My mom is terminally ill and on hospice, so she had to cross the finish line with me from home,” said Tingle, 30, from Delmar, Md., who switched her cell phone to FaceTime with about a half-mile to go. “She usually goes to my races and is at the finish line when I get there. This time, she couldn’t be here. She has stage IV cancer pretty much everywhere in her body, but she’s still with me. And so she crossed the finish line today, too.”

Tingle, who completed the race in 2:21:21.97, called her mom right around the fork in Barnegat Light that separates Broadway from Long Beach Boulevard. As she cruised up Fourth Street toward Broadway – before making the final turn into the park – she told her mom to get ready for the big moment.

“She was in bed and I told her to try to get up and walk a few steps,” Tingle said. “We were going to cross the finish line together. I had the camera on me, and as I approached the chute I switched it so she could see us cross the finish line. We did it!”

Michael Vido finished fourth, behind Rodriguez, in 1:57:39.49, with Montclair’s Thomas Stults in fifth at 2:07:17.92. Paul Davis of West Lawn, Pa., was sixth in 2:09:29.62, followed by Hoboken’s Tim Cheuw in 2:10:02.97; Waldwick’s Justin Casenta in 2:20:39.87; Belmar’s Joe Rooney in 2:11:25.29; and West Windsor’s Kevin Foy in 10th place with 2:12:05.18.

Behind Margaret Vido, Chesterfield’s Jessica Hart finished 11th overall in 2:12:32.60, while Annebeth Huy of Doylestown, Pa., finished 15th overall in 2:18:06.09. Maggie Kanak of Newtown, Pa., took 19th overall (2:20:34.05) and Tingle was the fifth female.

The top local runners were Long Beach Township’s Jonathan Wert, who finished 13th overall in 2:14:44.49, followed by Tuckerton’s Arturo Villanueva in 17th (2:19:54.72) and Barnegat’s Rob Goglia in 26th (2:23:41.53).

Of course, many of the runners would not have finished the race if not for the many volunteers providing water and others fluids throughout the race. One of the many crews along the Boulevard hailed from the Barnegat Light VFW Post 3729 Auxiliary, which is located on 79th Street in Brant Beach and open to all veterans.

“This is our first time here and we’re prepared,” said auxiliary president Carl Ayres, who led a team of about a dozen volunteers who set up their water station between 79th and 80th streets. “We brought three 20-gallon containers and we can go right down the street for more when we need it. We just reorganized (the auxiliary) and we’re trying to do our part out in the community. So, today, we’re helping the runners out.”

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