The leaders near the turn onto Rumson Road during the 2011 edition of the race. Below, race co-organizer Dawn Wilcox at the RBR track. (Click to enlarge)


All along, even as the higher-profile Sheehan Classic has gradually shortened over the years from a 6.2-miler to half that distance, the Little Silver Classic has always been what it is today: a five-kilometer (3.1-mile) run.

Back when the first edition of the race went off, in 1993, “it was a more realistic distance, and more popular,” said borough resident Dawn Wilcox, who co-directs the event with Karen McCormick..

That’s not only because the shorter event is something more casual runners can tackle, but because it’s more family-friendly, enabling parents to run with their teenagers or even kids as young as nine years old, she said. And that’s in keeping with the atmosphere of the event, a fundraiser for the Little Silver PTO.

But make no mistake, said Wilcox: “It’s a real race. Legitimate racers want to do it.”

The course – which travels west along Ridge Road/Harding Road, south on Prospect Avenue, east on Rumson Road and north on Hance Road before turning back to RBR – is relatively flat, fast, chip-timed and USA Track & Field certified, for those runners accumulating points.

There’s no prize money, but local merchants have donated oodles of gift cards, running shoes and other rewards for the top three male and female finishers, as well as the top three in each age group.

The race is scheduled for Sunday, October 7, rain or shine, starting and ending as usual at Red Bank Regional High. In addition to the main race, there’s a one-mile run on the school track, plus dashes for tykes. A number of local vendors will be set up at the track, including –  for those who need a pre- or post-race caffeine jolt – Rook Coffee Roasters, which plans to open a java bar in the borough train station.

Aftereward, there’s a party with food, beer, wine and music by local band the Honey Badgers at the borough firehouse on Prospect Avenue.

It’s a big deal in a little town. “The PTO really banks on the run,” which typically draws about 500 runners for the main event, Wilcox said.

Running coach Robert Cavanaugh of Red Bank plans the second of two pre-race running clinics for kids next Monday night from 5:30 to 6:30 at Sickles Park. The clinic is free.

Registration for the classic is available online, with fees at $25 for the 5k and $12 for the kids’ one-mile through September 30; after that, the fees rise to $28 and $15, respectively.

Here’s an entry form for those who prefer the old-fashioned ways: LS Classic 2012