RED BANK: 5K TO RUN AGAIN IN 2018

Runners head down Branch Avenue in the 2015 edition of the George Sheehan Classic, which was cancelled a year later. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Filling a gap left by the departure of the George Sheehan Classic a year ago, Red Bank will again host a 5k race in June, 2018. And this one will be run entirely within the town’s borders.

The borough council gave a green light Wednesday night to the event, which is being organized by the Red Bank Business Alliance.

The route keeps the race within the borough’s borders, unlike its predecessor, the George Sheehan Classic. (Click to enlarge)

While the approval gives would-be participants plenty of time to train, it raises the question: why so far in advance? Organizers began the planning effort last September with the aim of holding the event this June, but couldn’t pull it all together in time, said Ayca User, owner of Antoinette Boulangerie.

Now, the business alliance, which has partnered with the Community YMCA, has ample time to nail down sponsorships and other logistics for the event, dubbed the Red Bank Classic, User told redbankgreen.

“It’s a fairly big program, and obviously we’re new to this,” User said of the alliance, which formed last year to fight for a parking garage and promote the central business district. “So we obviously needed help.”

The Y, she said, will handle many of the race logistics, while the alliance will focus more on fundraising, she said.

The race is slated for Saturday, June 16, 2o18, with a night-before registration event and other activities at the Y’s health facilities on Maple Avenue. Post-race events, including kids’s runs, are expected to be held at Marine Park.

Like Sheehan race, the main event will start and end on Broad Street, though a bit farther north. It will also confine itself to Red Bank streets, User said. Still, “we have to make sure Fair Haven is okay with it, because it’s right on their border,” she said. “Their traffic is going to be affected, so these things come into play.”

Also like the Sheehan, the race is schedule to go off at 8:30 a.m., with an organizer’s pledge of getting the streets cleared for downtown merchants 10 a.m., a goal that Sheehan organizers also consistently met that event’s later years.

An outside vendor will employ remote-chip timing technology, User said. Information about fees was not immediately available.

The event marks the return of a start-of-summer fixture on Red Bank’s calendar. In 2016, a year after what turned out to be its final edition, the Sheehan Classic ended a 22-year run here, citing rising costs, declining participation and difficulty attracting sponsors. The race was moved to Asbury Park.

Named for the late Rumson resident and Red Bank physician/author Dr. George Sheehan, who popularized the sport through books and newspaper columns, the classic was launched as a 10k, or 6.2-mile race, in Asbury Park in 1981, and relocated to Red Bank in 1994. But its popularity waned, and the course was shortened, first to a five-miler, and then, in 2012, to a five-kilometer main event, or 3.1 miles.

The change eliminated a nearly two-mile stretch of course through Fair Haven, curtailing the race to Red Bank and Little Silver.