Run for JJ 5K on tap this Sunday

July 14, 2021

The Run for JJ 5K will be held Sunday, July 18, in Rehoboth Beach with an expected 200 racers lining up for the 7:30 a.m. start. The event will benefit the Joseph “JJ” Stein Foundation to support the programs for the children of West Rehoboth. Awards will be presented to the overall, masters and top three finishers in 16 age groups. Registration will be open through Saturday evening at 6 p.m., with limited registration on race day. Go to for more information.

The Run for JJ uses a USATF-certified course and attracted the overall fastest Delaware 5K fields over a span of eight years from 2000-08, when the Striders and the late Jay Stein would invite elite runners, mostly from Kenya, to the race. The course record was lowered from 14:23 to 14:15 to a blazing 13:52 right here on the streets of Rehoboth Beach. After one race, I remember treating five elite Kenyans to a boat ride in the Atlantic with my friend Danny Mac, and it was the first time they had been in a boat. It was fast times in the Nation’s Summer Capital when the Kenyans came to town, and even faster when I brought in another team from Ethiopia in 2007 when the state mark was set.

2002 flashback

Kenyan David Njuguna led 250 runners to the first mile in 4:35 and hit the two-mile mark in 9:12 to clock 4:37 for mile two. Running the third mile in 4:40, Njuguna hit the finish in 14:23 and a new Delaware state record. Junior world champion in the 10K in 28:52, Henry Kipchirchir of Kenya, ran 14:38 for second. Kenyan Grace Njoki established a new event record of 17:05 for fourth overall to win the female title. Other notable finishers included Sonja Friend-Uhl in 17:30. There were five age-group records, a female masters record, two course records and a state record set in this one race, making it a road race at the beach to remember.

2003 flashback

New Balance-sponsored Kenyan Joseph Mwai led two Kenyan teammates, Henry Kipchirchir and Sammy Ng’eno, through Henlopen Acres as residents stood on their porches and watched runners fly by their million-dollar homes. Kipchirchir held the lead until the final mile, when Mwai blasted home in 4:28 to hit the line in a new state record of 14:15. Kipchirchir was second in 14:28. Kenyan star Hannah Njeri set a new course record on the female side of the action with a time of 16:50, finishing ahead of Sonja Friend-Uhl, who hit the line in 17:13 for second. Jack Huxtable won the 65-69 age group in 22:41, while Paul Kiefer ran 25:50.

2007 flashback

Nelson Kiplagat of Kenya opened with a 4:30 mile with countryman Ruben Chebii at his side. Kiplagat threw in a 4:25 mile, breezing through the Acres to hit two miles in 8:55, and then a 4:29 mile to hit three miles in 13:24. Breaking the line at 13:52, Kiplagat shattered the previous record of 14:15 set in 2003. On the female side, it was all Florence Jepkosgei of Kenya finishing fifth overall in 16:48, just two seconds shy of the course record of 16:46.

2008 flashback

Abiyot Abebe, 20, of Kenya ran a time of 14:52 to outkick 22-year-old Dejene Nigussie and win the Run for JJ 5K. Michael Wardian was third in 15:33, while 26-year-old Mohamed Fadil of Morocco was fourth. Jane Muia, 21, ran 16:16 to win the female championship, outracing 26-year-old Daska Mamito, who hit the line second in 16:19. Other notable top finishers included Enos Benbow in 16:29 and Breck Vanderwende in 17:28.

Throwback Thursday speedwork

This week’s speedwork session was repeat 800s, as 5K times are falling and leg turnover is increasing. The combination of ability levels and ages is cool to see, and the track is a fun place to play when you are a runner. Join us at 6 p.m. on Thursday nights.  

On Thursday, July 22, we will have a mini-meet with distances of 100 meters, 400 meters, 800 meters and the long jump being contested with races based on age/ability level. More events could be added or deleted based on what/who shows up.

Maggie’s Mile

The inaugural Maggie’s Mile will be held as part of the Cape Open Track & Field nights this summer with the event opening up a track & field meet Friday, Aug. 13, and the continuation of the open meet Saturday, Aug. 14.

The Maggie’s Mile is in memory of Margaret “Maggie” Browne, who lost her life in an accident this spring and will not be forgotten. There will be sections of the mile broken up by age group with championships in the following divisions: Youth, Teen, Open, Masters, Grand Masters, Celebrity and Elite. The track meet is free to the public, while the Maggie’s Mile will have entry fees of $20 and $25 with proceeds to fund a Maggie Browne Track & Field Scholarship.

Note - For many years, we raced down Rehoboth Avenue in the Rehoboth Mile, which was one of the best events around, bringing out lots of folks trying the shorter distance. In 1988, I had the lead at the one-mile mark in just under 4:30. The only problem was that the race was 1.1 miles that year and I was still at First Street, with the finish at the Bandstand. Needless to say, I did not hang on and finished fourth overall in 4:58.

Beebe Heroes 5K

Sussex Academy’s light-footed Sadie Tunnell ran well last week and was listed in Tuesday’s Cape Gazette as the winner of the 5K; however, Sadie finished eight steps behind Sarah Bushey of Harrington, formerly known as Cape runner Sarah Popovich, who crossed the line in 21:05.4.

Although Sadie had a faster chip time of 21:03.1, she lined up toward the middle of the pack at the start, and her gun time was 21:11.6. The majority of race directors and the common rule agree to set the overall championship to gun time so that the first person to cross the line is the winner and all age-group awards would default to chip time.

Many moons ago we awarded the female championship at a large Dogfish Dash to a woman who hid in the port-o-john for 10 minutes, hopping out when the start cleared to basically run the race by herself and finish in the middle of the pack about 1,500th, but she was awarded the overall championship when it was based on chip time only. To eliminate that disaster, most race directors and timers set the overall to gun time. Congratulations to both talented runners separated by 23 years, meaning when Sarah had a Vikings uniform on, Sadie had not yet arrived at the starting line.


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