By Jamie Kempton
Who knew back in 1983 that a cross country race launched at Bear Mountain for former high school runners would endure for three decades? Probably not many, but the Bill Markiewicz Rockland Alumni Cross Country Run indeed celebrated its 30th renewal on Nov. 24. A cast of 235 runners braved extremely blustery 40-degree temperatures to re-enact a ritual as anticipated on their calendar as the Thanksgiving feast two days prior.
The Rockland Road Runners co-sponsored the popular event, which has a distinctive reunion-type feel with post-race celebrations at the Bear Mountain Inn, the Merry-Go-Round Carousel, and outdoors on the sprawling playfield between those two landmarks.
Carlos Jamieson, a 2005 North Rockland graduate, claimed his first Alumni Run victory by touring the hilly three-mile course in 15 minutes 59 seconds. Jamieson, who was runner-up in 2010, battled much of the race with David McCarey, a 2008 Middletown alumnus, and defending champion Nick Roosa, Tappan Zee class of 2003. Jamieson lost the lead to McCarey on the steep ski-slope hill midway through the race, then recaptured it in the last mile to post an 80-yard win over McCarey, who finished in 16:14. Roosa, who won the race in 2005 and 2011, ran 16:17, one second off his winning time last year.
Jamieson was the 2003 Rockland schoolboy champion, and later starred at American University. He was one of seven runners chosen to the Rockland County All-Decade Cross Country team for 2000-2009. Jamieson is pursuing a master’s degree in physical education at Columbia University.
Cailé Kohlbrenner, a 2011 Tappan Zee graduate, salted away her second consecutive women’s title with a wire-to-wire triumph in 19:12, one tick slower than her winning time last year. Seven-time champion Julianne Littmann-Viscardo, Monroe-Woodbury class of 1995, was runner-up in 19:32.
Kohlbrenner is a sophomore biology/pre-med major and runner at Providence College who hopes to become a pediatrician. Providence recently placed second at the NCAA Div. I cross country championships. Kohlbrenner’s father, Andy, Pearl River class of 1981, is a four-time Alumni runner-up and 2008 Rockland Track & Field Hall of Fame inductee. He jogged the race this year due to a longstanding knee injury.
Monroe-Woodbury made it a clean sweep of the team titles. After just missing the past two years, the Crusader men outdueled eight-time champ Clarkstown North, 72 to 86, to win their third team crown. The women’s team won for the sixth time in eight years and a record ninth overall, scoring 23 points for a convincing victory over runner-up Tappan Zee, which tallied 78. Monroe has held a monopoly on the team participation championship and this year was no exception. The Crusaders won for the 12th time with 39 participants, far ahead of runner-up Pearl River’s 23.
Runners representing 67 high schools from 14 states – including California, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and Oklahoma – took part in the race, and entrants’ ages ranged from 18 to 70.
The annual Bill Markiewicz Award was presented to Chuck Sommerlad, a 1985 Monroe-Woodbury graduate and St. Thomas Aquinas College alumnus. Sommerlad organizes the Monroe-Woodbury team at the Alumni Run each year and is chiefly responsible for the Crusaders’ team participation success.
Markiewicz was Clarkstown North’s successful cross country and assistant track coach for 11 years (1978-89) and perhaps Rockland cross country’s most enthusiastic supporter. When he died of cancer in 1991, the race was renamed in his memory and an annual award was established to recognize those who have made a significant contribution to the sport.
Janet Markiewicz, Bill’s widow, made the award presentation as always. Members of the Markiewicz extended family gathered for the event, including nine participants: Bill’s brothers Mike (Albertus Magnus class of 1970) and Peter (Clarkstown South class of 1975), sister Margaret (Rosary Academy class of 1976), son Dan (Goshen, 1996), and five other family members.
Six previous Markiewicz Award winners competed in the race – Albertus Magnus alums Pat Chambers, Larry Beckerle and Jamie Kempton, former Clarkstown North runner Jason Friedman, ex-Pearl River harrier Ray Sussmann, and Mike Collins, formerly of Mepham on Long Island. Five other previous recipients helped coordinate the race – meet founder Tom Doherty, co-organizer Ralph Coleman, officials Kevin Stewart and Lou Hall, and Clarkstown South coach Ray Kondracki.
In addition to Jamieson, other former Rockland County meet champions who participated included Mike Colangelo, Albertus Magnus class of 1975; Jim Dinan, Nanuet class of 1987; and Pete Modafferi, Clarkstown South class of 1995.
Chambers, the inaugural Alumni Run champion, and Beckerle, Albertus Magnus class of 1973, maintained their streak of never having missed an Alumni Run.
30th annual Bill Markiewicz Memorial Rockland Alumni Cross Country Run
Saturday, November 24
Bear Mountain State Park, Bear Mountain, N.Y.