On the Run in Asbury Park

On Sunday, I ran the first annual Asbury Park Relay Marathon. For a new race, it has a lot of potential—but we could do without the Nor’easter next year.

The APRM isn’t like a traditional marathon. It loops eight times through Asbury Park for a total course of 26.2 miles. Participants can run solo or in teams to split up the distance. I ran on a two-person team called the Running Tillies.

“Not every runner will be able or wish to train for a 26.2 mile marathon,” said Art Castellano, long-time race director of the New Jersey Marathon and one of the people behind the Asbury Park Relay. “By staging the APRM, all can get the flavor and excitement of the marathon distance.”

I liked the set up of the race, but the weather was awful. We ran in cold, driving rain, with wind gusts up to 30 mph lashing out every time I hit the boardwalk. I ran the final 10.1 miles of the race for my team, which meant three loops through the town, each one starting and ending at Convention Hall.

Castellano was right that the format helped runners. Brian Devers of Egg Harbor Township, one person in our South Jersey crew who drove to the race, ran the full 26.2 miles. He cramped badly, but saying hello to his family each time he looped past them kept him going. Watching his kids run the final few yards with him was worth the trip.

My team’s final time was 3:41:00. We placed third in the open co-ed division. Not bad for a two-person team competing against teams of eight.

So what was the best part? The athletic achievement? The sense of accomplishment? The award for our third-place finish? No: the best part was a post-race cheeseburger at the Wonder Bar.

“I run so I can eat,” Devers said, mouth stuffed with cheeseburger, his wife and three children crowded around him.

Something tells me that he runs for something—or someone—else.

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