Thanks4Giving 5K ‘Runraiser’ Is Family Affair for Great Cause

Nov 29, 2017
Photo by: David Biggy The Thanks4Giving 5K ‘Runraiser’ gets under way alongside Veterans Memorial Park in Beach Haven on Nov. 25.

Sandra Zucconi ran this year’s Thanks4Giving 5K “Runraiser” in Beach Haven on Nov. 25 a whole 17 minutes slower than she ran it last year. But she was neither surprised nor disappointed.

“I felt really good. I was a lot slower than I’d normally be, but I expected that. I’m 6½ months pregnant,” said the 29-year-old Weehawken resident who spends part of the summer in Beach Haven with family. “So it wasn’t too bad. And I just ran a 5-mile race on Thanksgiving.”

Last year, Zucconi placed 41st overall amid a 100-competitor field, crossing the finish line in 29:22.44. In a much larger field this year – a combined 186 runners and walkers, including a dog (he didn’t have a bib number, though) – Zucconi finished in the mid-140s with a time of 46:22.81. In contrast, her husband, Anthony, was fifth overall in 20:33.71, which was some 10 seconds slower than his time from last year, when he finished second.

“My husband killed me,” Sandra joked. “I was a lot closer to him last year. This time, I ran closer to the back with my cousin, Ellie. But we’re making this race a tradition for us. We want to run it every year. It’s for a great cause and we have a lot of family running in it.”

And while the Zucconi’s first baby will be about 9 months old by the time next year’s Thanks4Giving race comes around, they say he’ll be in it.

“He’s sleeping right now, but he’ll be here in the baby jogger next year,” she said. “One of us will be pushing him, probably me. Anthony’s too fast and we don’t need to slow him down.”

One guy who wasn’t slowed down much on Saturday was Nick Trombley, who finished first overall in a brisk 19:05.94. The Rochester, N.Y., nonprofit coffee shop owner was at the front of the pack from start to finish, outracing Haskell’s Johnny De Paola, who finished in 19:21.91, despite a lull in his training after running cross-country at Eastern University in Philadelphia and graduating last year.

“I really haven’t trained for the past six months,” said the 23-year-old newlywed, whose wife, Patience, also ran in the race, albeit well behind her husband of nearly three months. “I used to run 8Ks in college and then I had a big gap in my training once I graduated. But I felt really good. I didn’t know how to pace myself since I hadn’t run in awhile. I was breathing hard, so I was happy just to cross the line.”

Patience, who sported a cool Thanksgiving turkey hat and ran most of the race alongside her twin sister, Penelope Ackerman of Barnegat Light, finished 83rd in 30:32.62 – not bad for somebody who simply runs to stay in good health.

“I run a few times a week, but not fast,” said Patience, 22, who met Nick on her first day of orientation at Eastern just over four years ago. “I just enjoy running to stay healthy and I like supporting the cause.”

Burning calories – especially two days after Thanksgiving – and staying healthy apparently is important to 49-year-old Jennifer Harvey as well. She finished sixth overall and was the first female across the finish line in a solid 20:36.15.

“I just Googled if there were races this weekend and found this one,” said Harvey, whose daughter, Michaela, spent this past summer racking up points for the Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol competition squad. “I wanted to try and burn off some of the food I ate the other day, and it was a lot. I was feeling it, for sure.”

Harvey’s 14-year-old son, Liam, also competed in the race, but he finished a few minutes behind his mom (24:05.08) in 22nd place. Michaela, who sprinted through the final 100 yards, was 42nd in 26:49.15

“I’ll be 50 in May, so I’m not bad for an old lady,” Jennifer joked. “But give it a few years. Liam will pass me and Michaela might be right behind me.”

Proving she’s definitely not an “old lady,” Beach Haven’s Caroline Labin walked most of the 3.1-mile course but gently jogged the last 70 yards.

“I’m just here to get some exercise and give to a great cause,” said Labin, who didn’t cite her age on the race application, but as a teenager danced on the famous Dick Clark show “American Bandstand” a handful of times. “I’ve done this race a few times before and it’s worth the time to participate to help those in need.”

Proceeds from the race go to the Hunger Foundation of Southern Ocean.

— David Biggy

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