navesinkstartAnd they’re off: the leaf-laden trails of Middletown’s Bodman Park are the scene for the start of the Navesink Challenge, the 14th annual edition of which hits the ground running on Sunday, November 30. 

As outdoor activities go here in the greater Red Bank Green, it’s what you might call a late-season arrival. How late? Well, consider that pretty much every other open-air happening from this point comes equipped with funny sweaters, caroling kiddies, and complimentary cups of hot chocolate.

As a serious sporting event for local runners, however, the annual Navesink Challenge is a drop-everything occasion — that pursuit of the perfect gift for Aunt Hortense will have to wait. When the 13th edition of the late-autumn tradition hits the ground this Sunday, November 30, the day promises a great turnout, generous support, and funds raised for a great cause — in this case, the programs of the Middletown Youth Athletic Association.

Presented by the Jersey Shore Running Club in partnership with the MYAA, the Navesink Challenge offers two events (a 15k run and a 5k run/walk) starting at 8:30 am and finishing on the wooded paths of Bodman Park, off Navesink River Road. The main run rambles through some of the most scenic, off-the-beaten-path precincts of Middletown Township, including Cooper, Bowne and Browns Dock Road (as it bisects Huber Woods) — and the Challenge derives from the fact that it’s far from a flat course (or, as the tagline says, “It’s a Hill. Get Over It!”).

While registration is officially closed for the popular event, the JSRC is offering a couple of alternate options (including transfers of numbers and charity registrations) to prospective participants, with no further sign-ups accepted on day of race. Take it here for details on getting in the race, then take it over to Road Runner Sports in Shrewsbury to register on Saturday, November 29.