DOC SHEEHAN RETURNS FOR ANNUAL CHECKUP

sheehan-finish-2009The finish line at the 2009 George Sheehan Classic, and this year’s course, below. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

geosheehancoursemap1If there’s one thing Red Bank won’t be short on this weekend, it’s foot traffic.

As in, like, 6,000 feet stomping through the downtown Saturday morning.

Among New Jersey’s most anticipated proceedings on pavement, the George Sheehan Classic brings harriers in swishy shorts and squishy sneaks by the hundreds from as far away as Zimbabwe to the streets of Red Bank, Little Silver and Fair Haven.

A literally well-heeled borough tradition, the five-mile main event sparks the sweaty anticipation of crossing the finish line for a sweet cash prize (for the elites) and coveted bragging rights (all others).

The annual race honors a late Red Bank and Rumson physician known as the “philosopher king of running” for his writing on the subject. Sometimes seen running River Road in Rumson in white long johns and a ski mask on his lunch breaks, ‘Doc’ Sheehan must’ve spooked many a passerby.

The race, now in year number 30, started as a 10k in Asbury Park and migrated north to in ’94 to Red Bank, where it was refashioned as a five-miler.

But supposing you’re a newcomer and just so happen to be in the mood for a quick tear through downtown Red Bank and two adjoining towns: the GSC has been lauded by Runner’s World Magazine and the New York Times as one of the premier events in the running world and in New Jersey.

It’s a two-day affair with offerings for runners and viewers to the hilt: a runner’s expo and kids races on Friday night in Red Bank’s Marine Park; a two-mile walk Saturday morning; the five-mile road race at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and a music and food festival afterward, also in Marine Park.

Here’s a detailed schedule.