After getting a break from traveling last weekend to cheer on a race in Prospect Park, it was once again time to hit the road! The last time (and first time) I cheered the New Jersey Marathon was in 2015 with a group of TMIRCE runners. The course is flat, but the temperature is often slightly higher than ideal due to the late April/early May timing of the race.
One nice feature of the course is that it finishes on the boardwalk, which is great for both runners and photographers.
Below are the maps of the half and the full marathon, which diverge roughly at Mile 11.5. I encountered one full marathoner who accidentally turned with the half group and had to run back to complete the rest of the course. Whoops!
The crowd support was been a bit thin, as it had been the last time I cheered in 2015. But it may just be the particular spots I’ve chosen (I’ll promptly add these to my page of “dead zones“). I’ll get more into the journey + choice of cheer spot in the coming sections.
The choice of cheer spot was dictated by the schedule of the North Jersey Coast Line to Long Branch. The first train from New York Penn Station leaves at 6:07 AM. Because the marathon crosses the railroad tracks at some point, the train terminates early at Red Bank, and free shuttle service is provided to the next two stops (Little Silver and Long Branch). The journey is a bit long, but pleasant. Train traffic isn’t particularly crowded at that hour, especially on a Sunday morning.
The Long Branch station was closest to the action (somewhere between miles 10 and 11), so I took the shuttle to the end. By the time I got to Long Branch, it was around 8 AM, and the race had already started at 7:30 AM. That gave me about 25 minutes to get to the cheer spot and set up.
Mile 11 is on 2nd Avenue, which is quite residential. Spectators were sparse here.
I think it’s also because Mile 25 of the full (which is also Mile 12 of the half) is closer to the finish, on the water, and just two blocks east of Mile 11. There were more definitely more spectators along that stretch.
I brought two speakers this time around!
In my last cheer report I mentioned that you could sync two of these speakers to your phone to get stereo output. I wanted to see how loud they would get when used together and test the audio quality. I found that if you made the audio too loud, the quality of the bluetooth connection degraded and the sound would briefly cut out from time to time (something we definitely don’t want!). However, I do think that using the two speakers together was quite effective. Because I had to keep the volume lower on my phone to preserve the quality of the connection, I’m not sure how much louder the sound experience was. I’ll have to run some tests to evaluate whether or not it’s worth lugging two of these around every time.
The playlist I used was called Can’t Stop Won’t Stop – Funky House & Disco – an appropriate name for a running playlist.
The pace team leaders were especially cheery at this event!
Side note: I’m not sure how race organizations go about recruiting pacers, but I noticed some NYRR pacers were also pacing the NJ Marathon. Example:
I did get sick on the way home. All of the sudden my legs became achy as I was waiting for the train. I knew immediately that I had the flu. I started to heat up on the train, but luckily the symptoms didn’t explode until I was back home.
Want some more cheer in your life?
Next race: NYRR Japan Run