Locals and Visitors Run for the River


Maria Naccarato and husband Adam Duckworth and son Sebastian Duckworth run past the Musconetcong Watershed Association’s River Resource Center on Maple Street in Asbury. The event raised a total of $11,690, which will help to further their education and outreach programs. (Photo by Elisha Stenger)

The Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) held its annual fundraising race, Run for the River, in early May to gather community together in support of the river and raise money for many projects.

The Musconetcong Watershed encompasses a large portion of our local area, and beyond. The Musconetcong River runs all the way from Lake Hopatcong up north, down to where it empties into the Delaware River at Riegelsville, PA. All that natural area needs an organization to ensure its preservation and protection—and the MWA fulfills that need.

According to Karen Doerfer, the Communications Director, and the organizer of the race for the past four of 19 consecutive years, the mission of the MWA includes not only protection of the river, but also of the historical buildings along it.

“We’re restoring the Asbury Mill down the street and we’ve removed all of the dams at this point,” she said.

This is just a small sampling of the MWA’s impact on the area. The MWA also organizes trash cleanups along the river, puts together an environmental film festival in the fall, and manages an educational summer camp for children ages five through twelve and up.

The race itself requires a significant amount of organization.

“Everything from getting all the t-shirts ordered, to all the registrations done, it takes a lot of man-hours,” said Doerfer. “But then, we also organize a lot of volunteers, so then that day we kind of pass the responsibility onto them.”

The morning of the run, the energy in the Asbury Fire Station, where the race started, was palpable. Runners filed in and out, grabbing numbers and t-shirts, stretching, and chatting.

The walkers started on their way at 9:45 a.m., with runners following shortly after at 10:00 a.m.

Some ran or walked with their dogs, and others with their children.

Maria Naccarato, for example, who has been running for 10 years with her family, ran alongside her husband and son, with her two other sons ahead of her.

“We love everything that they do. They work really hard. They’re vocal, they’re out there, their information is out there, they offer a variety of programs for kids and adults, like the camp for the children in the summer,” said Naccarato. “We love sending our sons to those. It’s fun to have all the opportunities and ways to support them and what they do,” she said about the MWA. “We live on the river, so we love to support it in any way that we can.”

Like Naccarato, most of the participants were locals. But even those who did not have a personal relationship with the river appreciated the course and its beautiful scenery.

“This is our first time being out here and especially toward the end and seeing the river down by the fields was really pretty,” said Dan Ferguson, who was visiting with his husband from New York City.

Ferguson was the first overall finisher, alongside local resident Morgan Hamler, the first female finisher.

With only about 120 participants, the award ceremony directly after the race was intimate, and a large portion of the attendees received medals or prizes. Many placed in their age categories, while others won a raffle for their awards.

Doug Borelli, 57, the fourth overall finisher and first in his age group, summarized, “I’m very involved with the environment and I like what they’re doing with the watershed and keeping it clean,” he said. “Anything I can do to help the environment, I’m all for it.”