By Robert Cavanaugh
Was Saturday a perfect morning for the 21st Annual George Sheehan Classic or what? Whether you were there to run the 5k or cheer on friends and family, the weather was just about perfect.
This year’s race meant a lot to me with it being Father’s Day weekend. Over the past 12 years, I have participated in this race many times alongside my father, but this year was the first time my 8-year-old son, Colin, ran the race.
Being sick and not able to run for more than a week leading up to the race, nothing was going to stop me from being alongside of him at the starting line on Broad Street in front of my alma mater, Red Bank Catholic.
With more than 1,200 runners lined up for the start, I gave him a little pep talk about pacing and reminded him about the infamous Tower Hill, which he was going to run for the first time. Seconds later the horn sounded and everyone started to head south on Broad Street in Red Bank.
Pre-race favorite and defending champion, Andrew Brodeur, 24, of Bethesda, Md., took the lead from the start and never looked back, finishing in 15 minutes and 18 seconds. Toms River’s Noel Whitall, was the overall female winner with a time of 17:46.
Going into the Sheehan, most people realize they are not going to run a personal best because of the hilly conditions, but everyone has a story about making that left-hand turn from Prospect Avenue after the 2-mile mark to Ridge Road where Tower Hill awaits.
Just like the other 1,200-plus runners, my legs were sore climbing Tower Hill on Saturday morning, but hearing the trumpet music played by Dave Demonico gave me the extra push needed to get to the top and begin the descent toward the finish line.
After finishing the race in 5th place overall, I skipped the water at the end and jogged back to find Colin running at the bottom of Tower Hill.
Running alongside Colin down Ridge Road and then cheering for him as he completed his first, but not last, Sheehan Classic in 26:14 was the best moment for me.
Following the race, the event finishers and their family enjoyed food in the park, sponsored by Jersey Mike’s, Johanna Farms and Sickles Market. There was also a popular post-race block party with music followed by the race awards.
At stake this year, was more than $2,500 in prize money that was distributed in the 5K run to the top five overall finishers and age-category winners.
Rounding out the top five male finishers were: Brian Quilty, 24, Brick; Cory Smith, 35, Philadelphia, Pa.; Matthew Turlip, 25, New York, N.Y.; and me, Robert Cavanaugh, 36, West Long Branch. Rounding out the top five females finishers were; Maeve Evans, 23, New York, N.Y.; Tina Morrison, 29, Washington, D.C.; Jennifer Nelson, 24, Barnegat; and Caitlin O’Hare, 14, Middletown.
The race is part of the Jersey Shore Golden Grand Prix, sponsored by McLoone’s, a series of races that offers prize money to overall and age category winners. The five events are: Spring Lake 5, George Sheehan Classic, Belmar 5, Asbury Park 5K and Pier House 5K.
Robert Cavanaugh is an elite runner and the owner of RTC Training.