After Sandy and Boston bombings, New Jersey Marathon perseveres

When runners take to the 26.2 mile course for Sunday’s New Jersey Marathon, they’ll persevere not just against their own fatigue and physical limitations, but natural disasters and terrorist attacks as well.

First there was Superstorm Sandy last fall, which damaged the race’s traditional course and the homes of some of its organizers. Then, just over two weeks ago, there was the bombing attack on the Boston Marathon.

But there was never any doubt that the race would go on, said Joe Gigas, the marathon’s executive race director.

“It wasn’t clear how we were going to do it, I just knew we’d find a way,” said Gigas, who has been displaced from his home, just north of the finish line in Long Branch, since Sandy.

The course had to be altered due to damage on the boardwalks of Asbury Park and Ocean Grove. It only received its certification on April 11 – “which is very late,” said Gigas. “Then April 15 happened and things changed in sporting events.”

Among other increased security measures, runners and their supporters won’t be permitted to bring a bag of any type to the start or the finish lines. (More information for runners with security concerns can be found here.)

With roughly 11,000 runners signed up, registrations are slightly down compared with last year, but Gigas said the number of people signing up each day is double what it was before Boston.

“Runners are saying we’re going to come, we’re not going to sit in house cowering because of this,” he said.

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