By Jack Minogue Staten Island Advance
The Arielle Newman Run, formerly the Pepper Martin Memorial Run, will undergo a major shift after Thursday’s 38th annual romp through West Brighton.
No, the course isn’t changing. Neither is its traditional July Fourth celebration. However, its position in the Staten Island Road Racing Triple Crown series is.
Since 1981, the run has been the third and last jewel of Staten Island Road Racing’s Triple Crown.
Starting in 2014, the Newman Run will be the middle race of the Triple Crown, as Staten Island Track, Running and Community (SITRAC) has accepted the Celic Run’s application to become the third race. The Celic, a Labor Day Weekend tradition, will replace Jeff’s Run, which had its final edition on Father’s Day.
Like the Al Ronaldson Run and Jeff’s Run, which followed the Stapleton Steeplechase in the Triple Crown series, the Celic Run’s history began after the death of a firefighter: Marty Celic was lost in a fire in Manhattan in 1977.
Firefighter Al Ronaldson perished in a fire in the Bronx in 1991, and Firefighter Jeff Giordano was one of our heroes of 9/11.
Celic also has 9/11 lineage. The race began as a way to honor Marty Celic, but Marty’s brother, Tom, was at the World Trade Center for an early morning appointment on 9/11. Hence the (Marty and Tom) Celic Run.
Adding the Celic Run is an attempt by SITRAC to stabilize the Triple Crown series.
The Al Ronaldson Run and Jeff’s Run did not take place without an emotional toll on the two firefighters’ families, tolls which eventually became too difficult to bear.
And, the torch was passed two years ago from an aging group of Pepper Martin’s friends to Arielle Newman’s family and friends. The race is now run in memory of the Notre Dame Academy track star.
The Celic Run, which has continually brought new blood aboard, brings the prospect of stability to the Triple Crown series, but it also raises a question of how spreading the Triple Crown over three months, rather than five weeks, and running all the races on holidays will affect the competition, a tradition which began in 1981.
Victoria Sanfilippo and Victoria Pontecorvo head into Thursday’s run tied for first place in the women’s Triple Crown standings after the pair switched 1-2 finishes on Memorial Day and at Jeff’s Run.
Pontecorvo has won the last two Triple Crowns, and if she repeats Thursday, she will be the first women’s runner to take three straight titles. Only Frank McConville (1986-1988) and Alem Kahsay (1995-1997) have managed a triple.
On the men’s side, Mike Caputo holds a three-point lead on Joseph Brancale, but given the Forest Avenue hills, both will have to be wary of Dan Galford (10 points).
Galford, however, also has to be wary of Jeremy Mulvey who’s only five points behind him in the men’s 15-19 category.