Thousands of runners rock ‘n’ roll across Atlantic City – Press of Atlantic City

Thousands of runners rock ‘n’ roll across Atlantic City  Press of Atlantic City


Christopher Doyle

ATLANTIC CITY – Surmounting a two-year pandemic stumbling block, runners were finally able to rock and roll across the Boardwalk on Sunday.

The inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Atlantic City half marathon began at Bader Field, reached near West Atlantic City, went down into Ventnor and finished on the Boardwalk just outside Ocean Casino Resort.

Thousands of runners chartered their way through a dense fog for most of the 13.1-mile race, as spectators, hired entertainment and volunteers cheered them on.

Carissa Galloway, a Rock ‘n’ Roll race announcer, said she was glad to see the event finally make its way over to the Jersey Shore.

“I think it’s just important for the athletes to have that back,” Galloway said. “We as race organizers, we miss it, but what we really miss is what these races mean to these athletes.”

The Rock ‘n’ Roll race series is held in cities across the country. It was scheduled to first come to Atlantic City in 2020 before being postponed for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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A Rock ‘n’ Roll Atlantic City 5K, which is 5 kilometers or approximately 3.1 miles, was held Saturday. The half marathon had about 4,000 participants, and another 1,000 ran the 5K, according to Galloway.

Dennis Kipkosgei, a 27 year old from Kenya who now lives in Elkin Park in southeastern Pennsylvania, was the men’s winner of the half marathon, having finished in 1 hour, 4 minutes, 21 seconds, according to the race series’ Twitter acount. He said he he coasted along the flat course in the low humidity. It was Kipkosgei’s second half marathon. He placed fourth in Philadelphia’s 10-mile Broad Street Run earlier this month.

“I feel good,” Kipkosgei said after Sunday’s race.

Hirut Guangul, a 30-year-old from New York, was the women’s half marathon winner. A veteran competitive runner who won a Washington, D.C., half marathon in March, Guangul said she liked to come and run along the Jersey Shore — although, she said, most of the seaside scenery was shrouded in fog. She also indicated she was happy that pandemic restrictions on racing were being lifted. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Twitter account indicated she won in 1:14:46.

“I love running,” Guangul said. “I didn’t stop training (during the beginning of the pandemic), but it’s difficult because you need training and you need to race.”

Runners who streamed across the finish after Kipkosgei and Guangul were similarly happy about their race.

Stephen Leckridge, of Mount Laurel, Burlington County, said he was excited to take advantage of the springtime down the shore and run. He remarked that the fog had made for a cool route and “perfect running weather.”

“Working out at home, there’s only so much you can do. It’s not the same,” Leckridge, 53, said when asked about coronavirus restrictions that limited racing. “Going out and getting some fresh air and running with some other people who have some of the same goals give you a lot of energy.”

Natalie Burrowes, a 45-year-old from Baltimore, was at the race running alongside her husband Richard, 47. The more experienced distance runner, Natalie helped motivate her husband across the finish line. It was her ninth half marathon, and her husband’s fourth, but was the couple’s first on a boardwalk.

“We made it a running road trip,” Natalie Burrowes said.

“Fun, fellowship of friends and racing,” Steve Bowman, of Orlando, Florida, said when asked why he came up to the Jersey Shore to run. “I have a great time.”

Galloway, the announcer, said about 1,000 volunteers helped organize the event, with stations set up along the course so runners could stop for water. Kimberly Wooters, volunteering at a station just before the 11-mile mark, came up from Maryland. She said she regularly comes to races to run and likes to volunteer when she’s at the events as well.

“It’s fun to watch them, see where people are from,” Wooters said. “There was one lady I talked to the other day who said she was trying to do a Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon in every state.”

Karin Farkas, the acting superintendent of Pleasantville Public Schools, also volunteered at the race Sunday. She said she was there to support those running as part of a local Special Olympics program.

Otto Lam, from Wayne, Passaic County, ran the course as a “pacer” from the group Elevated Running and Pacing. He ran at a set speed during the race and carried a sign letting runners near him know what times they were on pace to achieve.

“Amazing job, beautiful day, weather was really nice,” Lam said. “We love helping runners because they always work so hard.”

Others were running in support of local business. Zack Steiner and Dave Jacobs, of Margate, were there in support of Alibi Gin, which is produced by an Atlantic City local.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll series has partnerships with several charities that runners could choose to support Sunday. Liz Falcone, of Philadelphia, ran to help benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Jude Hero program.

At several points along the course, musicians played for different passersby. Brian Johnson Sr. and his group, Legend Drum Circle, led a band that was playing on a street for the runners. He said he was happy to come out and share the group’s drumming with the community.

“We’re very socially conscious in that way, so we like to sometime drum for purpose. We’ll drum for peace,” Johnson said, who was there with his son, as well as Jeffrey Hebron from Cape May and Paul Simmons, of Stratford, Camden County.

Also playing at the race was Bruce in the USA, a tribute act for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. That act resonated for Jennifer Peterman and Catherine Rockstein, who struck up a conversation because both were wearing shirts with Springsteen album covers. Peterman, from Haddonfield, Camden County, said she was there running to as part of her local Royal Fitness gym.

Rockstein, of Cherry Hill, was running for her young son and in honor of her late husband.

“I love running and I know I had to wear this (“Darkness on the Edge of Town”) shirt for today,” Rockstein said, recalling how one of her first dates with her late husband was at a Springsteen concert. “I wanted to stay healthy for my son and be a good role model for him.”

Final results from the 5k and half marathon are scheduled to be published at www.runrocknroll.com/atlantic-city-results on Monday.

Contact Chris Doyle

cdoyle@pressofac.com

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