Marathon Preview With Joe Gigas, Executive Director

For many of us, this week is the Super Bowl of running here in New Jersey. The Novo Nordisk NJ Marathon will take place this Sunday as well as the Long Branch Half Marathon. The weekend also features a can’t miss Expo, the Barnabas Health Family Events and Kids Races along with the Shaping-NJ 5K on Saturday.

Joe Gigas, the races’ Executive Race Director took some time out of his busy, pre-race schedule this week to discuss the race with us at RunJersey.com. It took us (Corey and Charlie) about 10 seconds after meeting Joe to feel his unrelenting passion for this event and the sport of running in general. He proudly donned his race director jacket and his shirt respectfully saluted our fellow Bostonian runners. The second he began explaining some of the details for this weekend, Joe lit up like a kid on Christmas morning. It was truly inspiring to see such a passionate, well-intentioned individual so determined to make the race a memorable experience for every runner. Frankly, it gave us a new-found respect for a race that we already loved.

Mr. Gigas quickly made it a point to thank his sponsors, most notably Novo Nordisk and Barnabas Health. It was important to him that both companies shared his philosophy of getting people moving and to keeping them healthy. Joe also embraces this year’s mantra of “let your star shine” which celebrates the runner and his/her achievements and hard work. Joe shared lots of background about the race as it enters its 18th year, having grown tremendously from its 700 runner start in year 1.

He is a true runner-at-heart. He takes overwhelming joy in hearing the stories of the individual runners. Whether they run for their health, purely for fun, for a charity, as an elite, or simply to complete one of the races, he truly applauds everyone who will be out on the course this weekend. Joe shared a few of the stories with us that exemplified the human spirit and showed NJ athletes overcoming remarkable obstacles. It really moved him and we can not stress enough how excited he and his team are for this weekend’s activities. Throughout the year, Joe and his team also lead training runs and they work closely with local schools and youth programs to promote health and wellness in the community. Based on Joe’s insight, below is some last minute info to help everyone enjoy this weekend.  Please be sure to check their website, specifically the race updates here:  www.njmarathon.org  

By the Numbers

  • If you added up all the distances that will be completed by the athletes this Sunday, it would go around the world 7 ½  times.
  • Athletes from 17 countries will be participating including Thailand, Malaysia and many from the Dominican Republic.
  • 72% Of the participants are New Jersey-ans.
  • All 21 NJ counties will be represented.
  • Over 25 charities will directly benefit from the race.
  • More than 1,400 volunteers will be on-hand to assist.  (Please try and thank them all)
  • 3,500 Full marathoners + more than 5000 half marathon participants.
  • 40-50… Expected number of Elvis impersonators running the race. (Seriously)

Advice for the first timer, new to this race

Arrive early.  Arrive early.  Arrive early.  There will be traffic delays,  so plan accordingly to arrive early!

Carpool or take the train.

Expect a lot of people on race day.  It’s very busy and it’s certainly different from your average 5K or 5-mile race.  There is a lot to take in, so don’t be overwhelmed.

Expect corral starts and follow instructions on where you should be lining up.

Check the race director updates and the website for last minute news and info.

For the NJ Marathon + ½ Marathon Veteran

You should also arrive very early on race day.

The course, corrals, start/finish and timing are the same as last year.

New for this year is the VIP program for a special bib, preferred parking & pre-race and post race activities.

If you are a 5 year + veteran, join the ROC (Running-On-Continuously) Stars club for some special recognition and appreciation of your loyalty.

Also, be sure to check the race director updates and the website for last minute news and info.

For Spectators

The NJ marathon takes security very seriously, especially in light of 2013 Boston Marathon events. Joe and the team have worked very closely with the the Department of Homeland Security as well as local, county and NJ State police. They all have the same goal of keeping the runners and the spectators safe.

For runners, you can only have 1 bag and its only the clear bag provided to you at the expo.

For spectators, no bags are allowed at start/finish.  No backpacks, no purses, no pocketbooks, no diaper bags whatsoever. Please adhere to the directions of the Police and security personnel.

Advice from the Run Jersey team

Enjoy it! Especially the ocean side breeze, when you turn back north for the last couple of miles. Its a wonderful race; The Half is our favorite race on the globe. The crowds are plentiful. The runners are in good spirits. The bands are inspiring. And the setting takes you back to a place that we all love…The NJ Shore. Shoot us an email after the race and give us your thoughts, feedback and tales of triumph. Have fun, run hard and be safe!!!

JG Back jg and ch3 Ocean Place JG and CH

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Charlie Hoffmann

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