- 3 miles/5K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Relay
- Road Race
This was my first time running the New Jersey Marathon and my second time running the marathon distance. I worked hard to prepare over the past 4+ months and was hopeful to have a strong race. Fortunately, I had a great day!
New Jersey Marathon Weekend includes a 5K and Kids Run on Saturday and the half marathon, full marathon, and marathon relay on Sunday. All the Sunday runners start the race together, then the marathoners continue on after the first 11 miles.
I went to the Expo on Saturday afternoon. Bib pickup was easy but I was disappointed in the lack of vendors. The gear was sponsored by Diadora but I found most of the designs lacked style. The marathon finisher shirt is white, long-sleeved, non-tech fabric...it's just not a shirt I'll wear often, which stinks because I love to show off my swag!
Race morning was rainy, which definitely caught me by surprise. There was some traffic getting to the Monmouth Race Track but it wasn't too bad and we were able to get an easy, walkable spot. There was a refreshment area outdoors and plenty of porta-potties. The race started right on time and everything moved smoothly. Tons of photographers on-site to get those (EXPENSIVE) race photos.
The course is very flat and takes you through various neighborhoods. There was a good amount of spectators along the way, some of them blasting fun music. The course was a bit crowded, but overall pretty manageable. I actually preferred when we split from the rest of the runners because I had more breathing room!
From miles 13ish-22ish is a long out and back. The out was really fun as we passed beautiful homes and eventually made our way to the ocean and the boardwalk. Once we started turning back on mile 19, I was starting to get a little bored (LOL, and definitely feeling those miles!). There were plenty of pace groups to hang with and they all looked very engaging and supportive of their teams.
Running and seeing the Atlantic was definitely a highlight of the race. We lucked out and the rain didn't last very long - by the time we were at the boardwalk the temperature warmed up considerably with blue skies. The last 4 miles were the longest EVER and on the other side of the course you could see them breaking things down...I was just eager to finish!
The last mile is brutal as you have people tell you you're almost done but you can't SEE the finish! We had several loops and turns through construction before finally making it to the final push. I did the best I could and fought my way across the line! I ended up with a 24 minute PR - I couldn't be more proud!
After the race there was a lot of confusion about bringing in the clear bags - that seemed to be against policy. I used the changing tent which was a huge convenience. I drank my free beer and they also offered $5 mimosas but there really weren't a lot of people hanging out at the Afterparty, so we didn't stay long. I actually paid for finish line parking for $15 but ended up wasting my money since my fiance was also running the race and there was not shuttle from the finish parking lot to the start. I was pretty annoyed about that.
But overall, New Jersey puts on a nice race! I wish that the Expo had more/better gear and vendors and that the Afterparty was more welcoming. Email communication was minimal, which I actually didn't like because I appreciate those last-minute updates before the race. But where it really mattered - good course, well marked, great volunteers and aid support...they did an awesome job.
I highly recommend doing this marathon if you get a chance!