Every year I get to participate in the Run O’ The Mill in Clinton, New Jersey, and this year was cold like most other years, but one of the more unique ones I have got the privilege to run and compete in. A storm was expected to hit all of the Garden State, but Clinton and the surrounding towns may have had the worst of it. It started off with a moment of silence for Chloe Gonzalez father who passed months ago. Chloe Gonzalez was one of the best female track stars local high school North Hunterdon had to offer and now is running at Georgetown. The national anthem was after, and then the start line was made for the race.
I myself stood right in the front, dropping back significantly after, but got to watch the top runners at the start. At this point at around 8:05 AM it was raining and in the low 30° area, not the ideal running condition, but still doable. As I ran away from the library and towards the bridge on Halstead Street, the town I grew up walking across was in full view. Making the left on Lower Center Street I got to run (really just a walk) past my fathers car and got to give him a quotable moment, saying I “chose the wrong sport.”
I turned right onto New Street and then left onto Main Street, getting to view all of the shops and even the waterfall and bridge that showcases the Red Mill. I made the uphill trek on Halstead where I hit my halfway point which passes the finish line, where I got to watch Kyle Busher, Justin Scheid, Arthur Smith lii, and Lou Palma finish the race all under eighteen minutes before I left. I kept going up now towards the loop alongside Spruce Run, and I got to see herds of humans racing to the finish, including the two youngest finishers under thirty minutes, 12 year old Dean Yager with a time of 26:37, and seven year old Louis Verdickt accompanied by his father Benoit Verdickt with a time of 29:59.
As I kept going, I passed many members of the North Hunterdon Track and Field team including Charlie Lisa, Shane Wysocki, Asa Alderman, Liah Forbes, Shelby Yager, Xavier Chlebowski, Vanessa May, Sarah Curley, Ashley Scott, Aaron Wysocki and Adelaide ‘Addie’ Coster.
While walking facing the wind and now snow, feeling near hypothermic, I met a freshman sprinter named Benny Serrani. Benny didn’t bring gloves, so in a time where I was shivering cold, ready to quit and walk to my warm car and leave, I gave Benny the gloves off my hands. In this time, I remembered why I was running this 5k, it was to make a change for not only me, but for those around me. Everyone jogging past me I offered high fives and fist bumps, and anyone me and Benny met I asked why they were running today, looking for some good stories and a chance to connect with people along the way. I decided to push through the rest, while walking to my warm car and quitting was racing through my head, I had to finish and wouldn’t be satisfied if I hadn’t.
I ended up finishing with Benny with a time of 50:37, not something I’m proud of, but most other reporters would’ve stayed on the sideline for this one. While walking and talking, I learned peoples “why’s” and heard responses like “for my general health and exercise,” or “it’s a yearly tradition,” but my favorite had to be “it was a requirement for track.” I am a Shot-putter at North Hunterdon, and this was my second time competing, but I plan to do this yearly tradition for years to come. For anyone who participated in the Run O’ The Mill this year, props to you for dealing with the weather, and I hope to see an even bigger crowd next year!