Skip to content

Mother Nature wins again: lightning storm halts HS runner’s bid for state record

Jun 11, 2011, 4:10 PM EDT


Muhammad Ali once famously said that he was so fast, he could flip the light switch off and be in bed before the room got dark.

Joe Rosa of West Windsor-Plainsboro North High is so fast, that the only thing that could prevent him from setting a New Jersey state record in the 3,200-meter race was the sky opening up above him and lightning pouring out. In fact, Rosa was so fast that he actually looked like a blur out there– that is before you realize that the second-place runner at the time was Joe’s twin brother, Jim.

Joe was one lap (out of eight) away from finishing the long jaunt and was on record pace to do so when state officials halted the event in Old Bridge, NJ because lightning had been spotted in the area, the fans in attendance were seated in stands made of aluminum, and nobody was particularly interested in witnessing a re-enactment of Ben Franklin’s kite experiment.

You’re probably not going to believe this, but the father of the Rosa boys didn’t exactly take this news well.

“The race should never have been started,” [Larry Rosa] said. “Once it started it should have been completed. This is just atrocious. My boys are running one of the biggest races of their lives and this is how it ends. I just can’t believe it.”

Translated: Safety, schmafety, my boys are trying to COMPETE out there, damnit! How am I supposed to live through their successes now!?

Mr. Rosa’s consternation at this terrible miscarriage of justice aside, there was one key factor agreeing with the officials who stopped the race: science.

Kristin Kline, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Mt. Holly, N.J., just a few miles from where the meet was taking place, said the NJSIAA did the right thing.

“If lightning was sighted, they definitely made the right call,” she said. “As soon as you see it, that’s when you need to take shelter. You can’t say, ‘We’ll be OK for another five minutes.’ That’s not a safe thing to do.

The race has been rescheduled for Monday, although it’s uncertain if the Rosa twins will compete as they’re scheduled to take part in a mile-long race this weekend in New York City, where presumably Thor will abstain from interfering long enough for them to finish.


Runner, on verge of record, stopped with one lap left [Rivals High]

  1. marcus158 - Jun 12, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    Only one lap away from finishing? Ah…c’mon. That’s only what? Another 40-50 seconds?

    Hardly worth stopping the race for.

  2. goforthanddie - Jun 12, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    If it had to be stopped, it never should have started.

  3. cerowb - Jun 13, 2011 at 9:47 AM

    Mr. Rosa needs to get a life. Grow up, big guy