Running The New Jersey Boardwalks

Every New Jerseyan has spent some time walking on the iconic boardwalks of the famous New Jersey shore.  The boardwalk has provided lasting memories for all of us…Losing all your money trying to win a giant stuffed animal, drinking beers and passing out after the prom, consuming giant pizza slices or gazing at the breathtaking views.  For so many of us, the Jersey shore boardwalk holds tons of great memories.  It is also a 100% CAN’T-MISS running location for any reader.

Undoubtedly, the best thing about running our beloved boardwalk is the view. In case you never noticed, look to the East and you will see the picturesque views of the gorgeous ocean you are running past. Its beauty & its serenity cannot be overlooked and will inspire the novice or experienced runner alike.  The whole reason you run in the first place should be to enjoy yourself and appreciate the beauty of the outdoors.  In addition to the spectacular view, perhaps the best part is the sounds the runner hears.  The endless crushing breaks of the waves on the shoreline are an melody that can put the focused runner into a trance.  The waves are consistent and endless, just like the drive and beating of the runner’s heart.

The natural and scenic beauty, although wonderful, are not the only reasons why the boardwalk is one of the best places to run in the Garden State.  The Jersey boards serve as one of the best locations on Earth for people-watching.  Sure, when running a great pace, tourists and beach-goers can sometimes be an annoyance.  It’s obviously a major frustration when they get in your way while you are focused and driven towards your PR.  We at love our state more than any other place on the globe, however even we cannot deny that we have our share of nutjobs and total lunatics, many of which migrate to the shore when we are trying to get our miles in.  People-watching the on-goings of the Jersey beachgoer is pure entertainment, better than a night of HBO.  The conversations that you will hear will overtake your fatigue to allow you to go for the extra mile…or 2.  Our advice is to embrace the craziness of the crowds and enjoy it.  It may be difficult to set a new PR while dodging our fellow Jersians, however our boardwalks are like no other place on earth. Running the boardwalks has to be incorporated into your training at least a few times during the year.

When you are racking up those miles on our boards, it is hard not to love the different personalities each of our beach communities has.  Each town has its own quirks and uniqueness.  Sometimes a 3-mile stretch can bring you through 4 different communities each with their own flavor and personality.  Our coast is unlike any other, so it should be treasured and enjoyed by all of us runners.  Even the surfacing varies from town to town including real wood (typically yellow or Southern pine), synthetic material or concrete.

To get some good history and perspective about the boardwalks, we looped in NJ’s boardwalk gurus for their insight.  Our friends Dick Handschurch and Sal Marino aka the Boardwalk Guys were happy to chat with us about their favorite topic.  Dick and Sal have published several books on the topic of our beloved boardwalks, most recently The Beach Bum’s Guide to the Boardwalks of New Jersey.  It’s a great read for an afternoon down the shore or a weekend get-away.  The men shared some great insight with us.  Most notably they pointed out their trick to park one car downwind and start running towards it.  So as runners, they can have the wind at their back for their entire run.  Dick and Sal cautioned that, from time to time, some boards can weather and as screws loosen, they can raise up, so runners should always be cautious.  In speaking further, Dick and Sal quickly agreed that the boardwalks are an exceptional place to run.  In Dick’s words, “You can’t beat it.  The fresh air, the outstanding views and the sun feels great.  It’s a perfect location for any age and should be enjoyed all year long”.

We couldn’t agree more and hope all our readers enjoy the boards as much as we do.

To purchase Sal and Dick’s book, check out the links below.  It is a wonderful & quick beach-read, but try to see them at one of their demonstrations as you won’t be disappointed.  They provide lectures at local community centers, civic organizations and libraries that we completely recommend. In the meantime, we will see you on the boards!!!


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Charlie Hoffmann

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