September 21st was the 21st Annual BATS Global Market Newport Liberty Half Marathon in Jersey City, NJ in the neighborhood of Newport. The Newport Liberty Half has a special place in our heart because this and the spring Newport 10K, there are no other races that are closer. The start and finish line for both races are blocks away from our condo building.
We left our condo at 8 am for the 8:30 start and Ben still had to pick up his bib. This is how close it is. There’s something really nice about rolling out of bed and then tumbling a few minutes later to the start. Not to mention it’s home territory for us. The race course is on the streets and paths of Liberty State Park and the waterfront that we train on every week.
Although we had several days of lovely crisp fall weather leading up to race day, Sunday, race day itself, was an overly warm humid day. Summer’s last hurrah before autumn arrives I suppose. I wasn’t racing myself, but several runners from our running club, the Jersey City Runners, were doing the race. I stood by to cheer.
The first few miles of the half aren’t much to talk about. Many non-locals disparage this part because the neighborhood can be a bit dreary looking.Ben and I simply like it because the route is along the streets we walk on every day and just about past our condo building (see, I told you we lived close). The scenic nature of the half marathon route really picks up once the runners enter Liberty State Park. The park is right along the Hudson and it has a stunning view of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. You see Lady Liberty at around the halfway point, which perks up a runner’s fatiguing spirit. Then the path hugs the Hudson River. Say what you want about Jersey, but the best views of Manhattan are in Jersey. It’s a really beautiful pathway. There’s a bit of a zigzag, back-and-forth course going in this section because there’s an effort to maximize the miles in the park. Some people get tired of all the turns, but when I do the race, I don’t mind much because I look for other runners I know to cheer them on.
The course exits Liberty State Park and there’s a few more blocks of Jersey City before hitting the waterfront walkway, where there are more spectacular views of Manhattan. At this point, Ben and I know it’s just a couple miles til the finish line. We run this section all the time. Because I know the course well, I hopped around the city to cheer on people at different points along the course.
It was a humid, humid day, despite the low hanging clouds that obscured some of the Manhattan skyline. I did my own 10-mile run and I had to run a very easy-relaxed pace of 9:30. Even that felt hard at times.
I ran into Ben near the finish line. After the race, we hung out a bit with our friends to see how everyone did. One of our running club members did his first half at Newport Liberty and he did it in 1:42 (an amazing time for a first half on a humid day). He’s quite psyched and excited to do other races.
The first male overall winner was Kenneth Goglas of Port Reading, NJ, who won in 1:11:26. Mike Anis, who is someone we used to run with in our club, came in 5th place overall. The first female overall winner was Jodie Robertson of Melville, NY, who won in 1:18:35.
As always we had a good time at this terrific local half marathon. I hope we can make it next year.