The morning of Sunday November 16th was a chilly one, but in true Red Bank Catholic running tradition, Caseys of all ages were not deterred. The First Annual Casey 5K Run, welcomed a crowd of over 200 runners and even more supporters at Thompson Park in Lincroft for a morning of running, walking, cheering and sharing memories with friends, both old and new. Alumni from RBC classes spanning from 1955 to 2003 participated along with their families, friends, current students and runners of all levels.
The event raised funds to support RBC athletics and was held in honor of the memory of Jack Rafter, who dedicated 45 years at Red Bank Catholic as a teacher, a coach and eventually as Athletic Director as well. Rafter, considered to be the "Father of Girls Track" was according the current RBC Athletic Director Joe Montano, "one of the first people to promote girls sports." He helped establish RBC's great tradition in both cross country and track and field, and spearheaded the campaign to admit Catholic schools into the Shore Conference.
At the starting line, race committee member and RBC alumni runner Joe Freeman (RBC '69) shared a one of Coach Rafter's mantras that he "fondly" remembers with all the shivering runners: "There is no such thing as cold, or rain, or snow or anything. Get out there and run!" So with a laugh, they were off. Participants ran or walked by cheering supporters along the course in beautiful Thompson Park.
With a time of 16:09, Will Alston was first to cross the finish line. RBC assistant cross country and track coach Shannon Gillespie took first place in the women's division with a time of 18:39.29. As the first men's and women's division finishers, they each won beach cruisers generously donated by the Leys and Rogers families. RBC assistant cross country coach Joe Berardi came in second overall with a time of 16:38.54. Joe, RBC CLass of 2005, and Shannon, RBC Class of 2004, each took first place in the men's and women's RBC alumni divisions, respectively.
All were invited to relax with food, drinks and live music at the post-race gathering at Val's Tavern in Rumson, donated by Val's owners and RBC parents Linda and Chris Smith. Vocalist and musician John Rafferty volunteered to perform lively Irish music.
Overall, the inaugural event was a wonderful success. Race Director Michaela Ferrigine shared her appreciation for all the time, effort, supplies and services donated by the many volunteers who helped make the day a reality. She added, "With the help of our good friends at the Jersey Shore Running Club, Phil and Penny Hinck, who volunteer to help runs get going, we were able to put together what we hoped would be a 'feel good' RBC event that will grow over time." Judging from the faces of all who attended, they did just that. The committee has secured the morning of Thanksgiving Day 2015 as the date for next year's Casey 5K Run.