Ryan Rafferty and Amanda Huneke took the men’s and women’s crowns in the 59 th
edition of the Asbury Park Carnaval 5k run on December 31. Rafferty went right to the
lead at the start of the race with runners Justin Scheid and Riley Maher hot on his heals.
At the midway point all three were close together, but Rafferty pulled away on the return
trip to Asbury Park’s Convention Hall to break the tape in a fast 15:47.92. That time
placed Rafferty as the 11 th fastest runner in the history of the event. Scheid, a two
time winner of the event landed a close second in 15:53.28, while Maher clocked
in with a 16:08.89.
Amanda Huneke established a strong lead throughout the race, finishing in a fast
18:26.44, but well off the record of 17:35 set by Kerry Dyke in 2019. Runners
Erika Flores and Casey Hopkins battled it out for most of the race, with Flores
pulling away to land second in 18:42.75, with Casey taking third in l8:51.21.
Over 300 runners and walkers entered the event this year. The Polar Bear
races were again conducted by the Shore Athletic Club, under the direction
of Erin O’Neil, a former winner of the women’s race, assisted by Coach Joe
Compagni. Running in 59 th edition of the race was Dr. Harry Nolan, who has
not missed running in any of the Polar Bear races over the years, having won
the event nine times.
Many who attended the awards ceremony were privileged to hear Shore A.C.
member Bob Bazley read a Congressional Presentation awarded to Elliott Denman,
the founder of the Polar Bear races, as well as founder and long time President
of the Shore A.C., and a 1956 Olympian. Denman could not be present
at the event for the first time due to illness, but there was much clapping
after the award reading as well as from tributes by club President Walter MacGowan
and other club members.