By JOHN T. WARD
And this year’s George Sheehan Classic, scheduled for Saturday in Red Bank and shortened for the first time to a five-kilometer distance, from five-miles, offers organizers a chance to smash their post-race personal-best post-race breakdown time
“My goal is to open Broad Street by 10 a.m., before any of the stores open,” racemaster Phil Hinck tells redbankgreen.
The current record for reopen after the 8:30 main event is 10:25 a.m., said Hinck.
While no shortage of hustle will be required, as always, to break down the electronic timing gates, stage and other amenities, the Sheehan crew this year will benefit from a tailwind in the form of a race that’s now just 3.6 miles long.
That means nearly all the runners and two-mile walkers should be across the finish line by about 9:40, he said. Which should reduce carping by merchants who complain the race cuts into their Saturday receipts.
Named for longtime Rumson resident and Red Bank physician Dr. George Sheehan, who popularized amateur running through books and newspaper columns, the Sheehan Classic was launched in Asbury Park in 1981 and relocated to Red Bank in 1994, when it was shortened from a 6.2-miler to a 5-miler.
The latest trimming, announced in March, means the main race of the day won’t include the nearly two-mile stretch that took place in Fair Haven. Instead, it will follow its traditional course from downtown Red Bank into Little Silver. But instead of heading east on Harding Road into Fair Haven and back, it will turn west on Harding from Prospect Avenue, directly up the dreaded Tower Hill, and on to its customary finish.
Hinck said the move was made to reflect changing tastes for shorter races and events in which more family members could participate together. He expects 1,500 to 2,000 participants, based on early registration numbers, he said.
The curtailment came with a reduction in fees. Early registrants paid $23, down from $25, and signing up as late as Friday night will set runners back $28, down from $32. Day-of registration, though, remains at $35 to encourage earlier sign-ups, Hinck said.