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Jaylin Romero after winning first in her age group and being the first woman to cross the finish line.

Nutley Annual 5k: The Town's Perspective

For the past 22 years, the Nutley Chamber of Commerce, an organization representing many businesses in Nutley, has held an annual 5K run. This event is one of the two fundraising events for the Chamber of Commerce. This year,  Jim McGuire (President of the Chamber of Commerce), Christina Rodriguez (runner), Dawn Gajewski (runner), and Jaylin Romero (runner) reflected on their experiences and goals for this run. “It was a beautiful morning. I felt confident in my training,” says Dawn, “but was actually just glad to see the race had a good turnout and people enjoying themselves.”


The Chamber of Commerce began planning this run, which took place on May 1st, in January. Alongside picking the race date, they had to schedule with the town and police, get sponsors, get people who are willing to participate, and get the trophies. 


On the day of the run, volunteers from Proponent Bank in Nutley helped with registration. Some high schoolers also helped with the water table along the raceway. Since the race began at 9:15 am, most people arrived reasonably early and were greeted with bagels and coffee. There were also oranges and bananas that people could take after the race. Boost Fitness helped runners warm up, and ProStaff Physical Therapy helped stretch them after the race. Borderline Bikes donated a bicycle for the raffle, and American Party DJ’s worked on the music. 


In the months leading up to the 5k, runners found different training methods. Jaylin, for example, ran long distances for the NHS track team. “On average, my group of distance runners completes 5-6 miles a day,” she says. Dawn mentioned that she concentrated on hills for this race because the course had a couple, and she wanted to prepare herself. Alongside the incline workouts available on many treadmills, the local course provided an advantage in training. Just a few days before the race, Christina did a run-walk along the course with her daughter to get a feel for what it was going to be like. 


Just before the race, runners found themselves anxious and excited about what was ahead. While some found themselves well rested and ready for the run, schoolwork and other commitments made it difficult for others to get out. 


However, the turnout was great and it was a beautiful morning. With support from friends and family, whether on the track or at the finish line, positive anticipation filled the air as runners stretched, chatted, and readied themselves.


Most runners, even if they started with friends or family, split up during the race. A variety of goals, skill levels, and results meant that most people focused on themselves rather than their group. Sometimes, while running, it can be difficult and tiring to push forward. However, the realization that people are about to meet or even beat their goals keeps them going. “I felt tired, but I soon realized it was possible to become first for girls,” says Jaylin, “Once I discovered this was possible, I deemed that no other woman was going to pass me. Or man, for that matter. I was committed to winning.”


Crossing the finish line is always one of the best moments of running. It means that, even if you didn’t reach a specific goal, you refused to give up. Meeting a goal or even achieving one you thought you wouldn’t, is one of the most satisfactory feelings for a runner. Many are welcomed by family and friends who motivate them to cross the finish line just a few seconds faster on a good note. “My friend who had already finished was cheering me on as I entered the Oval,” says Christina, “she gave me that extra push to finish strong.”


Reflecting on the race is also important when it comes to setting goals for the future. While some found that their previous methods worked well and they would simply push themselves to beat this record, others mentioned that they would’ve run the course a few more times. Running is a hobby that requires constant learning, preparation, and reflection. Doing so is what brings personal records and prosperity.


All of the organizations, sponsors, and runners, are what make this Annual 5k not only possible, but fun. The amount of training and organization that goes into it is often overlooked. However, crossing the finish line, achieving goals, and supporting a cause make all of that training worthwhile. Even seeing your friends achieve their own goals and personal records is something amazing that comes out of local runs like these. “The trophy served as a reminder, but it was not the source of my happiness,” says Jaylin, “I was proud of my efforts and time is more important to me.”