Red Bank is a trendy town. With its quaint yet urban feel, it has been known to be a hot spot for the past few years because of its restaurant and bar scene. Day trips are perfect for strolls down Broad Street checking out the boutiques or walking down to Red Bank Reach to watch the boats sail by. Red Bank is also great for racing, home to now one of my favorite events in New Jersey, the Red Bank Classic 5k.
Held on Saturday, June 16, the Red Bank Classic 5s is more than just a 3.1-mile race—it’s an entire morning promoting fitness and well-being while highlighting and supporting the community.
Located at Marine Park, the event kicked off bright and early at 7:15 a.m. with race day registration and pre-registration packet pick up on the top of the hill. Already setting up was the local vendors and sponsors. Most importantly, for some, was the complimentary Starbucks coffee. There were bathrooms and well as port-a-potties, with close to no wait to go before it was time to go.
After pinning on my bib, it was a short walk over to Broad Street’s starting line. This was a stroller-friendly event, so of course, my little guy came along. The street was closed, so there was more than enough room for the 877 runners to line up and get started without being too cramped. The course itself took runners-up Broad Street and around to neighboring streets, giving racers a visual taste of the community.
It was a hot 80-something degree out so when it was time to conquer that big hill felt like the sun was pushing all its heat down on the runners to slow us down and make us sweat. It was a challenging course because of its hills, but nothing crazy steep and totally manageable. We all pushed through (me quite literally).
Despite it being a hilly course, all the runners embraced it and knew because of the area that this was most likely to be expected.
The entire race was on the roads, which was completely blocked off. This made it safe for runners with lots of room to breathe. We ran past tree-lined streets and I remember thinking how beautiful New Jersey is. The 3.1 miles flew by even in the heat. We circled back to be a block away from Broad Street’s starting line, turning left and left again to the finish.
Spectators stood behind barricades cheering runners for that last stretch. “Great job. Looking strong,” boomed a friendly and encouraging voice with a baritone of a man as I floored it in the home stretch. I saved enough gas for the end, even though I felt myself start to slow and struggle after that last incline. I did kick it up a gear once the finish was in sight. I couldn’t see the clock until actually crossing, but that was okay. I knew it wouldn’t be a PR, but I worked hard during this race to get it done and gave it all I had.
I finished in 30:52.2, placing 25 in my age group and 442 overall.
To my delight, all runners were awarded medals to proudly wear on their necks for the rest of the afternoon. As someone who loves race bling and wasn’t expecting this, I was thrilled. It may be a silly thing, but each time I look at it hanging with my collection I can remember the race knowing no hill or weather can stop me.
The wonderful volunteer who handed me mine also gave my toddler a medal. “You get one, too,” she said. My heart melted, and I thought that was very sweet of her. The gesture just goes to show how inviting the entire atmosphere of the day was.
After a drink—and a splash of water on my face—we had some time to kill before the kids run at 10 a.m. my son participated in. It always makes the event more special when I can include him as much as possible. We walked back to Marine Park for samples of smoothies from a local vendor. We chose the mango flavor that my little guy loved. Booths included Jersey Shore gym that opened around the block. They had runners spin a wheel for prizes like trucker hats. Runners got complimentary foot massages, there were yoga classes on the grass, and a paddle board class from Flow and Paddle Yoga.
It was now the kids’ turn, starting them off with a pre-run warm-up. The organizer did a great job showing them how to touch their toes, swing side-to-side and jump up and down. There was a decent sized amount of mini participants, which were broken up into three age groups. My little guy was in the under 5 age group, which were the last to go. It was him and another little boy just under the 2-year-old mark, making them the youngest, but all the kids did great.
Holding my hand and a toy car he didn’t let go of the entire day in the other, my son took
off following the others, running with me for most of the way. The cheering unfazed him as he ran after the bigger kids, even passing one or two. By the time we got to the end, I let go of him so he could finish all by himself. He did so tear free and seemed to really enjoy himself. He is truly getting a hang of racing. And while I would never push him to do something he didn’t want to do, my only goal is that this gets him excited at an early age to be active, run free and playfully as a kid should. And who knows, maybe the sport will stick with him.
All the kiddies were also given a medal, the same as the 5k. This was a nice touch compared to ribbons given at other events (not to throw shade, we appreciate ribbons! This just shows how they spared no cost.)
With the running wrapped up, it was time for a snack after working up our appetites. Food was delicious including croissants and mini ham, egg and cheese wraps. There was also a post-race party at the Red Rock Tap + Frill with a special brunch menu. Kids could decorate cupcakes with Sugarush. People played out on the grass soaking in the sun as kids painted artwork and played corn-hole games, and played on the jungle gym located at the bottom of the hill.
Last stop was the Fun Bus where kids climbed through and slide down and off the back racing the boats passing on the water in front of them.
Worth Running, Worth Coming Back
This was such a well put together event that allowed runners and families to enjoy a full day in Red Bank. Returning for the first time after a few years hiatus, the Red Bank Classic 5k does help bring people—thus customers—to the town. Or at least spread buzz on how nice it is.
I spoke to the owner of the deli on Broad St. that emphasized that it is a great event for the community. Some might assume its good doe business, and while it might bring more people to the area, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are taking out their wallets. At least the hope is that they will return.
“People are here for the race,” the owner said.
For this Jersey girl, I will be frequently visiting Red Bank throughout the summer, and look forward to the Red Bank Classic in 2019.