A unique running race is taking place in Asbury Park on Sunday.
The Train Run, organized by the Jersey Shore Running Club [JSRC], consists of a train ride followed by a run or walk. Participants can choose their distance when disembarking from the train in Allenhurst or Elberon. And afterward, Johnny Mac’s will host a party with pizza and beer.
The JSRC holds Train Runs in Asbury Park each October and February. This is the sixth race in three years, Both said.
The Train Run raises money for the Mount Carmel Elementary School. The school approached Both and the JSRC, asking if they could hold a run to raise money for the school.
“They have a lot of disadvantaged students who can’t afford the tuition,” Both said. “A lot of these private schools are closing, so they need to raise funds to try to help keep the school alive.”
Around the same time, John McGillion, owner of Johnny Mac’s bar on Main Street, contacted the JSRC, saying he wanted to assist with a race.
The JSRC thought it might be difficult to create an event that focused on Johnny Mac’s, due to its busy Main Street location. But then they realized the train station is located right across the street.
“So we figured, why don’t we invite runners to come down to his place, board the train, and run back to his place for pizza, beer and soda?” Both recalled. “That’s how it started.”
At the past five Train Runs, runners boarded the train, travelled south, and got off at the Bradley Beach, Belmar or Spring Lake stops, depending on how far they wanted to run. They ran back on the towns’ boardwalks.
But now, because of Hurricane Sandy damage, a boardwalk run is no longer possible. So this year, the Train Run will reverse directions.
“This time, we’re going to go north and see how it works,” Both said.
Runners can get off the train at Allenhurst and run back along the ocean for a 2.5-mile run, or they can run back on Main Street for a 1.25-mile trip. A third option is to get off the train in Elberon and run back along Ocean Avenue for about 4.5 miles.
Walkers are welcome at the Allenhurst stops, Both said.
Guides will get off the train with the runners at both stops to tell them where to go. At the end of the race, runner scan enjoy pizza, beer and a big party at Johnny Mac’s, Both said.
“Johnny McGillion has been very supportive,” Both said. “He comes out early in the morning and sets up.”
The train leaves the station at 9:40 a.m. on Sunday. JSRC buys the tickets full-price from NJ Transit, and gives them to the runners. Usually, 150 to 200 athletes show up at the Train Run. Runners can sign up ahead of time at JSRC.org for $20.
The race usually raises about $1,000 for the Mt. Carmel school, Both said.