It’s the eve of the best race in NJ and thousands of runners have converged on the Monmouth Park Racetrack. Their purpose is not to hit the lucky trifecta (although not a bad idea once you are there) but to pick up race packets and meet dozens of outstanding vendors. More importantly, the Expo is a chance to build enthusiasm for the race and there is undoubtedly an aire of excitement growing amongst the participants. Perhaps this race marks a transition from this year’s seemingly endless Jersey winter and provides athletes a chance to actually experience Spring while doing something they love. We think the buzz in the air relates to the overall greatness of this event. We can not think of a better place to cross a finish line than in Long Branch, with hundreds of screaming fans on one side and a perfect ocean view on the other side.
We caught up with a handful of runners to get their take on this weekend’s events.
Lindsay Tis of Hoboken was on-hand with 3 of her good running friends. She is all set for Sunday’s half as she returns for the second time after a few year hiatus. She loves running through the shore area and appreciates the flatness of the course as well.
We also chatted it up with Deniz and Micah, a pair of running friends who arrived from Boston looking to post a solid time to qualify for their hometown marathon. Although slightly concerned about the coastal winds, the duo were also fired up for the race, remarking on its great setting.
Before leaving, we met with Bridget Pegler, a 28-year old Spring Lake resident who is planning to crush it in her first Half Marathon. Last fall, Bridget had prepared and trained for the Sandy Hook Half and her excitement never relented even after it was cancelled. This will be her first official half and we have no doubt she will do tremendously well.
The Expo’s vendors were also in good spirits. Notably, Kayla Graves of Sure-Sports Products (www.sure-sport.com). Sure-Sport offers a wide array of compression socks, braces, kinetic tape, orthotics and other products to help runners stay safe. This was Sure-Sport’s first time at the Expo and Kayla made note that our runners were very knowledgeable of the products and asked great questions. She had a few words of wisdom from the Sure Sport team, “Run hard, have fun and good luck.”
As it often does with runners, a lot of the conversations we had with folks focused on the weather. Our friends at the Weather Channel (who are never wrong) are expecting a sunny race with the temperatures in the high 40’s/low 50’s. More importantly, this evening’s rain is expected to be long gone by race time.
So, as the clock ticks closer to the opening gun, be sure to go through your final preparations. Finalize that playlist, double check your gear, eat that final meal so you can DO IT on Sunday morning! The hardest thing may be calming your excitement so you can get some sleep before the race.