Art Castellano attempted his first marathon in 1980. He didn’t finish. “I ended up bailing out in Long Branch at mile 20 hallucinating about hot soup in front of the fire,” he recalls.
That marathon—the Jersey Shore Marathon—no longer exists. First held in January, it moved to the fall, and then petered out due to lack of participation and sponsorship.
In 1997, Castellano revived the marathon as a spring race; by 2005, it had a new name, the New Jersey Marathon, and was decreed the official state marathon by then-governor James McGreevey.
Castellano signed up 800 runners in 1997. This year, he expects 10,000 for the May 2 event, which will include a full marathon, half marathon, and relay marathon.
The course starts in Long Branch, winds its way through Monmouth Beach and Ocean Port, and ends up back in Long Branch. It won’t be hard to spot Castellano, a short, compact man with a bullhorn.
Castellano, 62, started running in 1977. “I turned 30 and I didn’t like the fact that I ran up the top of the stairs and was winded,” he says. He’s since run 117 marathons and four ultra-marathons.
He didn’t become a race organizer until right before retiring from his job as a teacher at Long Branch Middle School. Now he’s president of the NJRRC, which he considers a year-round job. He also organizes the Asbury Park Relay Marathon, which will be held for the second time on October 17.
Castellano relies on a tight-knit NJRRC family to organize the races. The club suffered a blow when vice president George Boscarino passed away suddenly in February. The tragedy did not deter Castellano, who quickly was back on the phone handling calls about the marathon.
“The race must still be run,” he says.Click here to leave a comment