Running New Jersey: Belmar Beach Is The Best Course For Short To Mid-Distance Runners
It’s hard to think of the state of New Jersey and not immediately think of the Jersey Shore. But we aren’t talking about reality TV, couch potatoes. Instead, the real shore to us means going to the best spots to run along the shoreline before soaking in the sun on the sand and hitting the waves. And those who are new to exploring NJ by foot need to run Belmar Beach.
Belmar Beach is among the best places to run in New Jersey—especially for those who are looking for a mid-distance run. It is mostly flat, scenic for beach lovers, and has enough going on in the location to make it a whole day trip.
It’s best to rise with the sun and get the run in as early as possible. That’s because in the summer months (which is the best time to run Belmar) the runner beats the crowd. And the heat. The beach does get crowded so getting there when only runners and cyclists rise is the key secret to running here. It’s also because parking is free until 8 a.m. That means parking right in front before paying the meter or getting a spot across the street that won’t requiring paying for parking at all.
There are bathrooms along the boardwalk, with plenty of water fountains and stores along the course in case the runner forgot their sunscreen or needs post-run coffee. Best of all is it is very clean both when running and when laying out in the sand. This makes it a great location for a beach run.
Belmar Beach features a long boardwalk from 1st to 20th Avenues. The boardwalk itself is flat and concrete, not like the wooden planks associated with a typical boardwalk. This makes it a smooth path to run along without worrying about tripping or hurting the knees.
It is about four miles to the end and back gives or take depending on where the runners start. This makes it great for a short run like a 5k. And for those looking to go longer for a mid-distance workout can continue past 1st Avenue over the bridge and continue along the boardwalk or Avon-by-the Sea. This tends to be less crowded then Belmar (but does get packed, too).
Along the strip, the runner has the beach to their left or right the entirety of the run. Without music, they can listen to the waves crashing and birds calling out their good mornings. Watch the sunrise from the horizon or feel its warmth on the shoulders for an afternoon workout.
And because hydrating is key in the sun, this course is great because there are plenty of water fountains along the route. As mentioned, there are also bathrooms for when too much water is consumed.
The course is predominately flat, so expect to run fast. However, there is a bit of an incline here and there throughout. There is one slightly steeper section but nothing to be described as being “hilly.”
How It Compares To The Other Beaches
Forgot the crowds at Point Pleasant and instead run at calmer and more adult-friendly boardwalk at Belmar Beach. And this isn’t because runners can head over to D’Jais later. (Although a good run does call for a celebratory beer every once in a while!)
Compared to Point Pleasant, there is less of a crowd since there are no boardwalk games and rides. But expect for volume to pick up as it gets closer to lunch. It can be very hard to find a parking spot by that point. There are teenagers hanging on the beach and outside the food establishments on a hot day, as well as families taking their little ones to one of the many playgrounds located on the sand throughout the course.
This makes it a great location to bring that jogging stroller, or getting that run in while the family or friends make camp on the sand to enjoy the rest of the say at the shore.
It also doesn’t have the “party” crowd Seaside Heights tends to bring at times.
Running Belmar Beach is up there with running Sandy Hook. Belmar is more accessible when it comes to parking right up and close, as has many more bathrooms. Plus there are other things to do to enjoy a day at the beach like going for a bite to eat or laying out. Sandy Hook is better to run because it is longer in distance.
Sandy Hook also gets busy on the weekend or a nice, hot summer day. It too has parking, restroom, and food, but these are broken up at each beach section. However, it’s worth it to see the scenic views and run past shady sections. Sandy Hook is better for a long run, whereas runners should check out Belmar Beach as the happy medium distance. Those looking for more isolation should check out the Bayshore Trail in Atlantic Highlands.