NJ Half Marathon vs. RunAPalooza: Which Race Is Better

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NJ Marathons NJ Half Marathon vs. RunAPalooza: Which Race Is Better www.runnerclick.com

Those who are looking for flat and fast half marathons with great views and even better crowd support need to look for further but their own shore. New Jersey is the home to many great racing events, its spring half marathons among the most anticipated. But when looking to run a half marathon it can be hard to decide which race is better, the NJ Half Marathon or RunAPalooza?

The short answer would be both are great races and should both be experienced. Different and unique in their own right, both NJ half marathons are perfect for a personal record. Along with flat courses, they both include great scenery along the 13.1 miles. The problem is that they are typically held in the same month, making it unrealistic for runners to compete in both for various reasons.

There are pros and cons to each New Jersey race. But we are putting the Novo Nordisk NJ Half Marathon vs. RunAPalooza, the Asbury Park Half Marathon to give runners a clear picture of which race to run when they can only choose one.

Photo: Lauren Keating

The Novo Nordisk NJ Half Marathon

Turn Out

This is one of—if not the biggest—half marathon in New Jersey in the spring. This year there were more than 3,000 runners for half marathon. That is not including all the runners who did the marathon, marathon relay, and 5k the day before.

With some many runners, it’s hard to feel alone on this course. And since it is such a popular race, chances are friends are running too. This makes it a great option for those in a running group looking to run their first or their next half marathon.

Because of the large turn out each year, this also means lots of supporters with signs, cowbells and cheering along the way.

The only downside is the amount of traffic to get to the starting line that morning. It is absolutely crucial to leave even early than normal in order to have enough time to get in the parking lot at Monmouth Park Race Track, actually park, waiting in bathroom lines and then get to the start.

Photo: Lauren Keating

Course

This course is perfect for those looking to shave off some time from their last half marathon. It starts at Monmouth Park Race Track and takes runners through towns like Ocean Grove, Allenhurst, Deal, Loch Arbour and ends in Long Branch. This means runners are taken along the heart of the Jersey Shore, ending on the boardwalk. However, expect lots of running through the neighborhood where all that is seen is houses. Even still, loved ones line the streets giving runners a boost along the miles.

Medal And Swag

The NJ Half Marathon has one of the best medals. The design changes every year, and it seems like every year keeps on getting better. This year’s medal was circular and spins. It was retro to look like a vinyl record, but also modern. It was a great addition to New Jersey medal collections.

Photo: Lauren Keating

Racers also receive race t-shirts, also the design and colors changing every year. This race also has a big expo where participants can purchase even more race shirts and other apparel, as well as last minute gear and other goodies.

Pros And Cons

The cost for the half marathon is $130 when waiting for the last minute. While this price is a con, early birds who register in the fall only pay $75. This makes it an affordable price for this distance race. The price continues to increase as it gets closer to the event.

Pros:
  • Affordable early bird pricing for a large scale half marathon
  • Large turnout means lots of racers and lots of supporters
  • Great race bling
  • Great afterparty with lots of places nearby to celebrate after
  • Flat course
  • Lots of aid stations for water and sports drinks
  • Scenic views of the beach towards the end of the run
Cons:
  • Lots of traffic race morning
  • Spring weather near the beach could mean cold and rainy
  • Most scenic parts towards the end of the race
  • Must purchase professional race day photos

RunAPalooza

RunAPalooza, formally known as the Asbury Park Half Marathon is organized by the Jersey Shore Running Club. Being put together by the local running group, it has a more homey feel to it where many runners know and support each other. The race typically early April, making it a short time away from the NJ Half that is held in late April.

Photo: Lauren Keating

Turn Out

There were just over 1600 runners who participated in the 2019 RunAPalooza. This makes it almost half out of a turnout as the NJ Half Marathon. But that doesn’t make it a bad thing. Even though some might think it’s smaller scale, it really isn’t that far off. It simply doesn’t feel—and is not—a small scale race. There is something about the atmosphere of the race that just makes it so warm, welcoming and exciting. There are lots of spectators, especially at the start, the first two miles, halfway through and the end. But there are people all along the course cheering on runners.

Course

Also very flat and fast, this is another half marathon that is perfect for a PR. Those who ran the NJ Half might notice some course similarities, especially near the boardwalk. This especially rang true this year since the NJ Half Marathon expo was held at the Asbury Park Convention Hall, where RunAPalooza takes place.

Runners run through Deal, Loch Arbor, and Ocean Grove, just like the NJ Half although these are not the exact same courses. RunAPalooza also takes runners down to Bradley Beach and Avon before running along the boardwalk to the finish in Asbury. The only challenge of the course is running the boards if it is windy or slippery from the rain. Still, it’s nice and flat.

Medal And Swag

RunAPalooza finishers all receive a medal. In comparison, the NJ Half Marathon has a more elaborate design when it comes to the medal. These are typically large and stand out. RunAPalooza has great medals as well, worthy of being worn and shown off that day. The 2019 medal was just as flashy. It featured the iconic shore mascot on a surfboard. It takes its place on the sand as a wave is rolling in behind it. It has a great look and definitely has its own unique design.

Finishers also received a tech t-shirt. This year it was grey in color with the same medal design on the front. The expo was smaller in scale, but also located at the Asbury Park Convention Hall. There wasn’t the option to purchase other swag like for the NJ Half.

Photo: Lauren Keating

Pros And Cons

The registration for this half was around $70 if memory serves right. There is race day registration for $100. This makes it cheaper than the NJ Half Marathon but without as many bells and whistles.

Pros
  • Large crowd enthusiasm
  • A flat course with scenic and iconic views
  • Great race swag
  • Lots of afterparty options
  • Perfect for a first half
  • Great way to support and be part of the local running community
  • Plenty of parking
  • Fewer runners, less traffic and dodging on the race course
Cons
  • Spring weather can be hot or cold
  • Not as large scale compared to NJ Half
  • NJ Half Marathon vs. RunAPalooza

 

Winner of the better course: RunAPalooza

Winner of better swag: NJ Half Marathon

Winner of beer crowds: Tie

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