MORRISTOWN – Brian Zeller approached the starting line at the Verizon Corporate Classic 5K on Thursday night in a bright red T-shirt with, “I don’t sweat. I leak awesome.” printed across his chest. It wasn’t exactly the regulation attire for the Toys ‘R’ Us team, but his wife, Staci Zeller had made it for the race.
A project manager with the IT team at Toys ‘R’ Us’ corporate headquarters in Wayne, Zeller was celebrating after losing 60 pounds this year. A former runner when he and his wife met 10 years ago, Zeller had to “teach my body how to run again.” Staci Zeller and the couple’s 4-year-old triplets — Xander, Jaxson and Cami — were a boisterous cheering section.
Zeller and coworker Ruby Scotland may have set a record for the most pounds put to rest this year.
Scotland, a data architect from Pompton Lakes, has lost 110 pounds since last April. The Corporate Classic was her first 5K, and her goal was “to finish with dignity,” crossing the line “triumphant.” Scotland and another colleague trained using the Couch to 5K app, texting each other when they’d completed each day’s assigned mileage.
Said Scotland, “There’s no reason to volunteer for diabetes or heart disease or hypertension just because I like cake.”
Zeller’s weight-loss advice was even simpler: “No shakes, no pills, no nonsense. I just put the fork down.”
That’s exactly why Tracy Blum of Cedar Knolls was back in the Morristown streets on Thursday night.
She and her husband, Charles Blum, ran with their three young children. Six-year-old Noah Blum and his younger sister Lily, 4, had both been part of the Corporate Classic last year. Blum ran holding his mother’s hand, while Charles Blum pushed the stroller. This year, 15-month-old John Blum, and Tracy’s father Richard Gip joined the family team.
“You have to show them fitness early, so they’ll understand that’s what we do,” said Blum, a process and efficiency manager at Verizon’s Basking Ridge headquarters. “We exercise to stay healthy.”
Chris Nocera, an engineer at Stryker Orthopaedics, was the male winner in 16:23. Diana D’Achille of Denville, a 23-year-old visual web designer at Verizon’s Piscataway office, was the first woman across the line in 18:17.
“I wasn’t expecting it,” said D’Achille, who wakes up early to run and lift before work. “There’s a lot of competition. I just run my best.”
Sarah Daly helped to set up thousands of cups for water before the runners dashed away from Headquarters Plaza. An incoming freshman at West Morris, Daly is a veteran distance runner at age 13. But volunteering at the Corporate Classic gave her a new perspective.
“It’s fun to see what you look like,” Daly said. “When I do a 5K, I never get to see how I act when I get ready. But I can’t see the race from here.”
Verizon donated $10,000 to the Jersey Battered Women’s Service in honor of the more than 5,000 participants from 140 companies in the 5K on Thursday. The race sold out more than a week ago, led by the title team’s more than 1,500 entrants. L’Oreal USA had 110 participants, all wearing a neon green team T-shirt with a bottle of gold nail polish on the back, and the slogan, “We don’t sweat. We sparkle!”
“The main objective is not to win. It’s to get moving,” said Kelly Zanczewski of Randolph, Verizon’s associate director of health and wellness in Basking Ridge. “It’s a team-building activity, coworkers encouraging coworkers, to convey a healthy message and a healthy culture. It’s to promote physical activity at all levels.”