By Neil Schulman
The New Jersey Marathon and Half Marathon arrive this weekend, bringing thousands of runners, sizeable crowds to cheer them on, and some traffic issues.
On Sunday, roads around the area in Oceanport, Monmouth Beach and Long Branch, as well as Deal, Asbury Park and Ocean Grove, will be closed temporarily as the runners pass.
Police are advising residents to plan accordingly.
The races, presented by Novo Nordisk, are actually part of a three-day weekend of activities, beginning with a Health and Fitness Expo at Monmouth Park Racetrack on Fri., April 28, from 1-7 p.m. It will continue on Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Saturday brings some family activities to the Long Branch oceanfront, along the Promenade and Great Lawn. The RWJBarnabas Health Family Festival begins at 8 a.m., and a series of kids fun races for various ages will be held all morning.
But the main events will be on Sunday, when the New Jersey Marathon, Half Marathon and Relay races begin from Monmouth Park at 7:30 a.m. Last year 11,000 runners took part.
The marathon will begin in Oceanport, and head through Monmouth Beach, then Long Branch, Deal, Asbury Park and Ocean Grove, before looping around and finishing on the Long Branch Promenade.
Road closures in Oceanport will begin at 7 a.m.
In Oceanport, police have announced that they expect all roadways closed for runners to reopen by 9:30 a.m. as the races move west to east starting at Oceanport Ave. and Crescent Place, though some will open much earlier.
Cars cannot be on the roads when they’re closed, and any vehicles that are on the road the morning before the race starts will be towed. Residents who know they will need to get somewhere during this time are asked to park on a nearby street. Police say Oceanport residents who reside from Myrtle Avenue and points west can travel out of town via Bridgewater’s Drive to Oceanport Ave/Main St. Residents who reside east of Branchport Ave and south of Monmouth Blvd., can travel out of Oceanport via the Branchport Creek Bridge into Long Branch.
Those who must get out for emergency reasons are asked to contact the police department.
Local road closings
Sections of the following roads will be temporarily closed as runners pass by:
Port au Peck
Port au Peck
All roads are expected to reopen by 9:30 a.m. Oceanport Ave. from the Main Gate of the Racetrack to Port au Peck Ave. will remain closed until 5 p.m.
All roads are expected to reopen by 10 a.m.
The race will be on parts of the following roads:
Long Branch Ave.
West End Ave.
Roads marked with a *, near the finish line, are expected to be closed until 2:30 p.m. Other roads are expected to reopen by 11 a.m., with some clearing as early as 9:45.
While people are encouraged to cheer the runners on all along the course, there are several Long Branch spots the race organizers recommend.
Those include the finish area on the Long Branch promenade; the end of Broadway; Pier Village (which is shortly before the conclusion of both the Marathon and Half Marathon); and the corner of Ocean and Brighton Aves. in West End.
Due to security concerns, those watching from the start and finish areas are not allowed backpacks, purses, diaper bags, etc.
Spectators are encouraged to cheer runners on, though experts say that if you are near the finish line it is considered bad form to yell “almost there!”
Maps and more information can be found at www.thenewjerseymarathon.com.