Jersey Shore Half Marathon Review: What To Expect, Course Tips, And Why Run It
Humble, yet iconic. Flat, yet challenging. These are the words to best describe the Jersey Shore Half Marathon.
Held on Sunday, October 7 in New Jersey, this race is one to run for those who live in the state and looking to cross their first (or umpteenth) half marathon off their bucket list.
Just under 400 runners participated in this year’s Jersey Shore half. It was 23-year-old Jacob Schrier from New York who was the top finisher of the 2018 Jersey Shore Half Marathon. His time was 1:21:03.6. Following his heels was Kenneth Ginsburg, age 49, with 1:22:13.8. Jay McGovern, 39, finished third with 1:22:35.5.
For the women, it was 38-year-old Kiera Russo from Tinton Falls who was the top female finisher and fourth overall with the time of 1:26:38.9. Katy Trotter, 33, placed second with 1:28:07.1, and Brittany Piercy, 25, who placed third for females with 1:30:28.3.
It was a hot and humid race day, with a high of 81 degrees. It was mostly cloudy. But despite no sun in sight runners splashed water on their faces and stopped to walk throughout the race because of the dryness in the air.
The Jersey Shore Half Marathon was held by the Shore Athletic Club. With over 500 members, the Shore A.C. is dedicated to track and field, with members competing in just about every distance races and events. The club’s very own Amanda Marino placed 7th (American) with 2:38 at the 2018 Chicago Marathon.
The Jersey Shore Half Marathon is one of the two signature events the Shore A.C. hosts each year. First held in 1972, the event is one of the oldest distance events held in New Jersey and the surrounding areas.
Reasons To Run It
This is one of the reasons to run this race. It always New Jersey residents and those who live in New York and other nearby states to participate in a longstanding tradition. Specifically for New Jersey runners, it is should be on a bucket list of all home state half marathons to run at least once.
Because it is mostly flat, the Jersey Shore Half Marathon is a great option for a first timer. It also makes it a great course for seeking a personal record or attempting to place a top spot for those competitor runners.
Held in the fall, it is ideal for those training for a spring marathon. And while many half marathons are in the spring in New Jersey, this is one of the handfuls of fall options for those who are looking for a longer distance race this time of the year.
While there is always a good turnout in participants, there are generally fewer runners than the other big half marathons. There is only one distance, the 13.1 miles, no marathon or 5k options. So this further adds to the fewer crowds.
All runners receive medals at the finish line to add to their collections, a great incentive for those who run for the bling.
What To Expect On Race Day
There is no big pre-race expo or event a time to pick up the race day packet before this half marathon. This saved runners from having to make a trip near Sandy Hook to the day before, it does mean getting to the event early on race day to give enough time to get ready to run.
The good thing is that there we minimal lines to pick up race bibs and shirts. All participants received a tan colored race T-shirt. Parking wasn’t a problem and very convenient since the lot was located right next to where race check-in was. This allowed early runners to go back to their cars to place their shirt and other items in and wait for starting time.
This race started later in the morning than other half marathons. Race check-in began at 7 a.m. But the event itself didn’t kick off until 9 a.m. This meant runners didn’t have to rise super early to get there in time.
The parking lot was next to the public bathrooms which were clean. There was also portable toilets off to the side.
For those who got there at 7 a.m., there was more than enough time to eat race day breakfast, stretch, use the bathroom and warm up. The starting line was up a few feet by the road. The race started promptly and featured live music after the National Anthem.
There wasn’t much race photography along the course, but runners did get a free half marathon photo of them crossing the finish line.
Runners can expect plenty of water stations, cheering spectators and medal with refreshments after completing at the Jersey Shore Half Marathon.
The Jersey Shore Half Marathon consisted of an out and back course. This means the runner went one direction to mile 4, turned around and headed back to the start. Then the runner turned around again around mile 7 before turning for the second loop at mile 10. The good news then it was a straight shot home for the last 3.1 miles to the finish located a few yards back from the starting line.
The downside to this was that is was a pretty boring course. It’s true that the runner gets to run Sandy Hook, but there is only a small stretch with water views. This means be prepared to be looking at the same scenery for most of the race. Also, keep in mind that the course isn’t on the paved strip where one would expect to run or typically bike on. This is because the pathway is just too small for all the runners. Instead, it is a road race. The road was blocked off for runners safety, with park rangers and volunteers directing runners along the way. It’s impossible to get lost or go off course.
With that said, make sure to train mentally for long stretches of running without focusing on views. Headphones were discouraged on the course, but many runners did listen to music. Just make sure to take them off at the end for the finish and to get able to listen to directions.
The course is predominately flat, but there were a few sections with some uphill. The plus side to this is there is the downhill to pick up speed. But for this year’s humidity, this drained some runners.
There are plenty of aid stations along the way, so take advantage of drinking water. This means no handheld water bottles are needed unless the runner feels better with their own water on hand. The Jersey Shore Half Marathon didn’t have portable bathrooms on the course, but there are public bathrooms along the way. Advice is to use the bathroom before the race and only stop in case of emergency.
Keep in mind that participants won’t run past the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, so don’t plan on seeing this site.
An added bonus is there is plenty of places for spectators to watch and cheer for their runners. Some even take their bikes and ride the course to follow their runner at various points. The finish line isn’t overly crowded, so support team has lots of room for finisher videos and photos.
Pros And Cons
- (Mostly) flat and fast
- Great location
- Smaller scale race with same big race perks
- Nicely organized
- No many scenic views
- Weather varies because of the time of year
Runners won’t regret competition in the Jersey Shore Half Marathon. Completing the race is a huge accomplishment in its own right, and choosing this particular race is great for its size, flat course and how nicely organized it is. Runners can expect to really enjoy their 13.1 miles. While any half marathon is challenging, it serves as a great fall race and a good practice for doing another half in the spring here in New Jersey. Chances are many runners want to sign up for another half marathon, and specifically the Jersey Shore Half Marathon after crossing that finish line.