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One Thing's for Sure:

Democrat Photo by Frank Rizzo

ERICK SELLSTROM OF Liberty struggles up the first hill in the Monster 5K, on Fraser Ave. in Monticello. Both runs started on Fraser, near the corner of Broadway.

It's Definitely a Monster!

By Frank Rizzo
MONTICELLO — August 10, 2001 – Sunday morning, as he encouraged a long string of runners heading toward the Monster 10K finish line, Tom Manza of Rock Hill could have thought himself the most popular man in Monticello.
Countless greetings of “Great job, Tom,” or “Good race, Tom” rained on Manza, who, as a member of the Monticello Striders and co-race director, was intimately involved in reviving the race after it took the year 2000 off.
“The hardest part,” Manza related in between his cheerleading duties, “was getting people motivated to pull it together.”
The running community, represented by the Striders, meshed with the Monster’s longtime sponsor, the Monticello Rotary Club, to bring back the biggest and most prestigious road race in Sullivan County.
The race wasn’t held last year, reportedly because the Rotary decided it lacked the volunteer base to pull it off.
Co-race director Orshii Boldiis never feared that the Monster was dead for good.
“It was a matter of somebody, some group, getting together and deciding it should be held,” Boldiis said. “For myself and Tom it was a learning experience. We learned as we went along. I kept good records so I’ll know what to do next year.”
“The Rotary people were very supportive and embraced us,” Manza noted. “We suggested changes to make the races more runner-friendly, and they accepted them.”
The biggest change was to the 5K course. No longer a rolling romp through Monticello, the course followed the 10K route part of the way, adding a couple of stiff hills and earning, in Manza’s mind, the moniker “Baby Monster.”
“We’ve been planning this since February and there were a lot of loose ends up until the eleventh hour,” Manza said. “We were holding our breath until the end.”
Fortunately for the organizers the presence of what Manza estimates as 90-100 volunteers plus the cooperation of Village of Monticello authorities smoothed the way.
“The Monticello Police Department and the Sheriffs did an excellent job directing traffic,” said Boldiis. “We had volunteers from the Center For Discovery manning the water stops, and we heard only positive things from the runners.”
“By and large these are serious runners,” Manza said as participants passed by, sweating in the August heat and humidity and showing the strain of navigating the five hills which dot the 10K layout.
The post-race ceremony was held at Somerville Field, complete with music and food. “Somerville was a very good addition,” Boldiis noted, and added, “next year the Monster will be better.”
In all, 278 runners signed up, and 260 finished, divided evenly between the two races.
Like “Training Runs”
For the respective men’s winners in the 5K and 10K, Joey Iatauro and Arthur Green, the race had a significance beyond itself. For both, it was part of a training plan.
Iatauro, of Grahamsville and a 2000 graduate of the running-rich tradition at Tri-Valley Central School, hopes to gain a top-five spot on the North Carolina State cross country team. The top seven figure in the team scoring.
“This kind of simulates a [college] cross country race, so I can see where I’m at,” said Iatauro. “It was a good hard tempo, like a training run.”
For Iatauro, the hardest part of the race was near the end, when he had to climb the other side of the Fraser Ave. hill he faced at the beginning of the race.
“The first two miles were kind of easy,” said Iatauro, who reported his mile (5:02) and two-mile (10:10) clockings. “We run an 8K in college [cross country], but this is probably harder than what we’re going to do.”
Green had never run the Monster before, and his 33:31 winning time compared favorably with the 1999 champ, Mike Slinskey of Wappingers Falls. Considered one of the top road runners in the Mid-Hudson region, Slinskey ran a 33:37.
“I found out about this race on the internet,” said Green, who hails from Poughquag in Dutchess County, near the Connecticut border. “I’m training for the New York City Marathon, and this was the only race around.”
Green has run a 30:30 in the Orange Classic 10K, “but that course can’t compare to this. This was more like a cross country course.”
Green said he trains on hills, and was for the most part able to slay “the Monster,” but admitted even he had a hard time negotiating the last hill, on Fraser Ave. about a mile from the finish.
In 1996, while competing in the 3000 steeplechase for Saint John’s University, Green made it as far as the trials of the NCAA Division I championships.
Michelle Wale of Pine Bush, the top scholastic distance runner in Section IX this past school year, won the women’s 5K in 18:34, good for fourth overall.
Jean Velasquez of Masten Lake, 39, fresh off her victory in the Jeff Jam 5K the day before, won the 10K in 41:56.

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