Long-time Glen Ridge resident Tom Fleming won the NYC Marathon not once, but twice, in 1973 and 1975. You can see his finish-line photograph on the wall at Fitzgerald’s 1928.
These days, everyone seems to be running in Glen Ridge. Runners are almost as numerous as the town’s signature gas lamps, which dot every route. The Ashenfelter 8K Run, also known as the Turkey Trot, celebrates the achievements of town resident Horace Ashenfelter, Olympic Gold Winner of the 3000 Meter Steeple Chase Event in 1952. Last year also marked the first running of the Tom Fleming Mile. Both races took place on Thanksgiving Day.
Fitzgerald’s 1928 sponsors its own 5K Lager run in the month of June.
I’ve had conversations with Tom over the years, many of them right in Fitzgerald’s 1928. His favorite table when weather permits is out front. Between 1970 and 1987, Tom ran 63 marathons. In addition to the two NYC wins, he came in first in Cleveland, Toronto, Los Angeles, Washington, DC and Jersey Shore (3 times). At one point, he held five national records; this many years later, he retains one – the Junior 30K, the oldest and his most treasured.
Performance athletics by nature puts the individual in an extreme condition. To experience these conditions repeatedly, and to win at least some of the time, is one thing, but it’s quite another to be able to use this experience to articulate to the rest of us, lacing up our running shoes, how to get the most from our workouts. As coach, teacher and friend, Tom has always exceled at this. Transferrable life lessons are unavoidable, like Tom’s insistence that winning happens not on the day of the race but in the preparation.
Google Tom and you’ll find several meaningful, in-depth interviews, or just approach him the next time you see him in Fitzgerald’s. He won’t mind. There’s another way he can outdistance almost anyone – talking.