Nicholas Deckmejian, Contributing Writer/Marketing Consultant
2016 is an Olympic year, and the running has started already! The Holmdel Foundation for Educational Excellence hosted its 5K Race and Kids’ Fun Run at Bell Works on June 5. The rain stayed away as more than 300 people, ranging from age three to 73, got some exercise while raising money for Holmdel schools.
The day started with people putting on their official race t-shirt, designed by Kristen Striano of Lilli Design, and heading over to the kids’ one-mile fun run. Kids of all ages, and some parents, completed a circuit around the front of the Bell Works site and received medals at the finish line from the mayor and other local volunteers. The first place boy was Lance Takhtaganov, 11 years old in fifth grade, and the first place girl was Katya Yashmanov, 11 years old in sixth grade.
After the kids’ fun run, people were pumped up by local DJ Mel from Incredible Soundz and by Jordan Gilbert, Holmdel High School sophomore, who sang the national anthem. HFEE co-president Brian Kennedy and Mayor Eric Hinds took a few minutes to welcome everyone and thank Bell Works and the many generous sponsors. See www.HFEE.org for a complete list.
Almost 200 runners ran the 5K course, taking in the beautiful landscape scenery and the backdrop of the Bell Works building. Supporters handed out drinks around the course, and gave lots of vocal encouragement.
The first group of runners crossed the line in under 20 minutes, and was followed by many others, to the cheers of friends and family. The top runners in each age category were given a trophy and celebrated together. Overall winner Arun Movva, a Holmdel High School freshman who finished in less than 19 minutes, said, “The course was great. I liked the scenery and the flat running surface.” Afterwards, other runners were asked what they thought of the course. Jessica Burden, five years old, said, “I practiced running all week and want to do it again!”
Local photographer Jack Hipschman, a Holmdel eighth grader, has taken many photos of the event and you can find them at www.HFEE.org/5K2016.
Lauren Podesta, race organizer and 5K finisher, said, “We were worried people would be put off by the potential rain, but we had a great number of attendees. And we had so many age groups, next year we are considering new prize categories for 50-59, 60-69, and 70+.” Tom Minerva, HFEE co-chair, commented, “The weather was perfect, and Lauren did an amazing job organizing it, supported by many volunteers and generous sponsors.”
Brian Kennedy stated, “Last year’s 5K was so popular, people wanted to do it again. This puts a cherry on the top of our fundraising year, where we raised a record amount of money to put a Chromebook on the desk of all Holmdel Indian Hill students.”
For the list of sponsors and more information on the race, please check out www.HFEE.org.
HFEE 5K Winners by Category (Male and Female)
Under 14: William Velanzuela and Natasha Gandhi
14-18: Arun Movva* and Katie Wolff
19-29: Carly Cole
30-39: James Gillespie and Gloria Vanderham
40-49: Nicholas Granata and Catherine McCarthy
50+: John Quintana and Kathy Baker
*denotes overall winner
(Photo credits: Jack Hipschman)