PARSIPPANY — Dressed in a Pequannock track tank top and dark shorts, Kurt Hill insisted he had “retired” from cross country, even as he signed up to run a NJ Trail Series 5K last week. Part of the Golden Panthers track and cross country teams for four years, Hill already missed running.

His former Pequannock teammate, Trey Povanda, declared himself “washed up at the high school level.” But both toed the line at Central Park of Morris County Wednesday afternoon, along with several dozen other ambitious amateurs.

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Hill had run his personal best (17:02.69) on “probably my favorite course” at the Morris County Championships almost a year earlier – and hopes to earn a spot on the cross country team at Embry-Riddle this fall. Povanda, in a Pequannock lacrosse T-shirt, was looking for 5Ks to prep for the cross country season at West Chester.

But the entrants included families, couples, and individuals into their 70s. It was 9-year-old Sloane DeLucia’s first 5K, running in a red Parsippany Express T-shirt with her parents, Penelope and Christopher DeLucia, and older brothers, Julian and Vincent.

“I want to get out there and run again,” said Hill, who plans to study meteorology. “Not only is it a longer distance, but nature is all around you, and you have time to think. Track is more intense. Everyone’s around you, and you have to compete and win.”

Founded in 2008 by Rick and Jennifer McNulty of Mount Tabor, NJ Trail Series hosted its first race at Watchung Reservation in January ’09 because Rick “couldn’t afford certain races, but I wanted to be around racing.” The self-described “mom-and-pop operation” has evolved into a full-time business. They organize two races per month in winter on average, and a 14-Wednesday 5K trail series at Central Park of Morris…