Sunday, August 07, 2011

A Race of Their Own: The First Ever Ladies Only JRunners 5K

A Race of Their Own: The First Ever Ladies Only JRunners 5K
Martin Bodek

Yes, the flyer said rain or shine, but rain was absolutely nothing to worry about. The first ever JRunners women’s 5k was run in positively pristine conditions on a beautiful sun-dappled race course with nary a cloud in the sky.
55 women turned out for the race in Loch Sheldrake – exactly the same amount as there were finishers in the first ever NYC Marathon in 1970. They came from far (Houston, TX!) and near (Monticello, NY). They were young (9!) and sage (77!). They were fast and faster.
At 10:30 AM they were off, and at 10:53:02.5, Judith Sambol crossed the finish line with the fastest time ever recorded by a female in a JRunners event.
Devorah Levin followed shortly thereafter with her silver medal performance and offered that “It was a great race, and it felt great being a part of a group of fit Jewish women.”
In 3rd place was a “PR”ing Rivky Tepler, who was effusive in her praise for the event, saying, “It's always fun to see everyone come together and give it their all. It’s always enjoyable to see my running friends and to meet more women with the same interests/obsessions that I have.”
The top three finishers beamed with their glass trophies in hand. As each runner streamed in, the smiles grew wider as they earned their finisher’s medals and showed them off to their cheering supporters.
Steve Holmbraker, director extraordinaire of each and every one of the JRunners races, was pleased with how the event turned out.
“The race was great,” he said. “The weather was perfect. The runners were happy and appreciative. It was all good.”
Shana Friedman took great pride in her performance. Having sustained a worrisome injury earlier in the week, she was unsure up until race time if she could actually partake. Partake she did, and placed 2nd in the 20-29 age group.
Even more pleased was the youngest participant of the day, Mimi Gornish, all of nine years old.
“I can't believe I did it!” said Mimi. “Even though I was the youngest, there were still some ladies behind me when I finished. I definitely had fun and want to do this again!”
Rivky Orlow and Tzipora Hornstein offered a joint summary of the race that encapsulated many of the sentiments offered by all the runners nearly to a man, or in this case, to a woman.
It said, “The race was lots of fun! Last year at this location, it was exciting to watch our husbands finish their JRunners race and come in first place! So when we heard JRunners was organizing a women’s race we were excited to participate. The mapped route was great without too many hills. It was so nice to feel the camaraderie of a diverse group of women who are all serious about the sport, and there to enjoy the race. We enjoyed the competition and of course it doesn’t hurt that this was both of our best 5K times yet! We look forward to more JRunners events.”
Competitive spirit was on display in the forms of Masters division racers Baila Miller and Miriam Wielgus. Both ladies have been trying to outdo each other in every JRunners event they’ve run so far. In the first JRunners 5k winter race, Miriam beat Baila by a hair. In the 5k race in April, Baila outran Miriam. This time, Baila emerged the victor again. Advantage Baila, and the Masters crown.
Miriam was nevertheless buoyant after bowing gracefully to her victorious competitor. Said Miriam, “The race was a blast! Looking forward to the next JRunners event.”
That would be the JRunners crown jewel relay race on August 17-18. Eight ten-man teams will run 30 legs totaling 143 miles in support of the Ohr Meir foundation.
Onward and upward it is for the non-profit JRunners organization and their message of promoting health and fitness. Their de facto slogan, Vive Currere, Curre Vivere (“live to run, run to live”), seems to have taken hold in the Jewish community.

Martin Bodek is co-founder of, beat reporter for, surname columnist for, and author of "Bush II, Book I" and the recently released, "The Year of Bad Behavior: Bearing Witness to the Uncouthiest of Humanity," both available on

Originally published in The 5 Towns Jewish Times on August 3, 2011.


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