Running: N.J. run part of a revival of the mile road race

Posted: August 19, 2013

On Sept. 14, Long Branch, N.J., will be host to another big race. But it's not nearly as long as a marathon. Not even a 5K. No, the race held on that Saturday morning will be just one mile, which is as hard or as easy a run as you make it.

The Ocean Avenue mile is part of a revival of the mile road race, which is longer than the 1,500-meter track and field race, and, obviously, not done on a track. In 1999, the United States had 330 road mile races. Now, according to RunningUSA, there are more than 600, and the "Bring Back the Mile" campaign is in its second year.

So is the Ocean Avenue mile race.

"When we train for marathons, we do a lot of mile repeats. When we do the 5K, we always start with the mile," said Levine, director of the race. "Running in general revolves around the mile and how you can compete with that distance."

Levine, 33, lives in Long Branch and has been running for nine years, and he has seen the benefits of training for mile racing in his own results. He has dropped 23 seconds off his 5K time and five minutes off his time for the half marathon. His personal record in the mile is 5 minutes, 55 seconds.

The race will start on Ocean Avenue in Long Branch, and finish on the boardwalk in front of the Ocean Place Hotel - the same finish line of the Long Branch Half Marathon and the New Jersey Marathon.

"If we have a nice north wind, which we should have that time of year, the course is extremely fast," Levine said. Winners in the men's and women's open races will win $500 each.

Last year's male winner, Christian Hesch, finished in 4:16.23, and the female winner, Melissa Salerno, ran 4:47.03. But Levine stresses that this isn't a race just for fast, competitive runners.

"If we have our elite runners run in the low four minutes - these are the people we like to watch in awe - but everybody should be able to come out and run the mile," he said, adding that children are welcome, too.

That's because there isn't just one race on Sept. 14 - runners can chose to run in one of eight heats. For example, the 8:30 race is for children 12 and under; the 8:50 race is open to walkers. A corporate challenge goes off at 10:05, and runners looking to win a cash prize of $500 run at 11:05 (men) and 11:20 (women).

Last year, about 230 runners competed, and Levine said his cap is 1,000, "though I don't think we'll get anywhere near that." At least not this year. But in the future? Maybe.

Running: Running Calendar

Browning Ross Summer Sizzler Series: 5K, Rowan University, Every Thursday through Aug. 29. 7 p.m.

Fee: $5, $3 for students. Age group prizes.

Hot Diggity Labor Day 10-Mile Trail Run and 2-Mile Fun Run, 9:30 a.m. Mercer County Park, West picnic area, West Windsor, N.J., sponsored by the Bucks County Speedsters.

Mayor's Labor Day Race, Ocean City, N.J. 9 a.m. 23d Street beach. 5-mile run & 1-mile fun run/walk. Ocean City Recreation.

Patriot Day 5K, Exton contact Mia Toschi at

Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, formerly known as the Philadelphia Distance Run. Free Health & Fitness Expo at the Convention Center, Sept. 13-14. Registration and information are available at

New Britain Twp. Business Alliance 5K: North Branch Park, 207 Park Ave., Chalfont. Cathy Scanlon, race director, at Registration:

Ocean City New Jersey Half Marathon, 5K & 10-mile non-competitive walk/run, 9 a.m. Start and finish by the Ocean City Music Pier. Ocean City Recreation.

Crusader Classic 5K Run, 11th annual, 9 a.m. Father Judge High School. Contact Dennis at 215-333-7648.

Please e-mail date, name of race, site, time and fee, plus registration information to sports editor John Quinn at

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