Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

This Tradition Is Picking Up Speed

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

This Tradition Is Picking Up Speed

Article excerpt

UPPER SADDLE RIVER -- Thanksgiving Day traditions come in many forms, usually climaxed by a large dinner with family and friends.

Thanksgiving Day sports traditions usually begin and end with football, either at a high school game in the morning, a touch football game in the afternoon or by watching NFL games on television each year.

But with Thanksgiving high school football games dwindling to a handful this year, a new tradition has grown in North Jersey and elsewhere, the Thanksgiving Day road race.

Fifteen years ago, after well-known Upper Saddle River resident and coach Dick Meighan lost his life in a tragic accident, his friends and family, together with the Upper Saddle River Recreation Commission, established a race in his memory that drew 287 finishers in a pouring rainThursday, more than 2,000 runners entered the 16th annual race, rechristened the Upper Saddle River 5K Run, with the same spirit and tradition the much smaller race had achieved from its first running until now.

Unlike the traditional football games, which provide a homecoming each year for alumni from just the two schools in action, this race has become a homecoming of sorts for North Jersey cross-country runners from all over. They run with family and friends, sometimes seriously, sometimes in costumes, like a group of Don Bosco alumni and current runners do every year.

Athletes who have starred from more than 15 North Jersey high schools filled the result sheets Thursday, although the men's winner, Kevin Cooper of Providence, R.I. (by way of Ireland and Brown University) never had run in Bergen County before.

But even Cooper has a North Jersey running connection. His roommate in Providence, former Bosco and Fairfield University standout Steve Flanagan, had invited him down for Thanksgiving Day dinner and the chance to do a little running.

"I loved coming here," said Cooper, who won easily in 15:03.00. "The music, the people, the course all combined to make it a great event."

Providence College sophomore Christian Costello, the former All- North Jersey star from Don Bosco was second with Princeton senior Bradley Paternostro, the former state 800 meter champ from Ramapo third. …

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