The Newport Liberty Half Marathon has a special place in my heart. It’s where I smashed my sub-2-hr half marathon goal in 2012. It’s the race where I cheered for my husband and friends and used as a tune-up for other races. If you were a runner in Hoboken/Jersey City, it’s the fall race that you HAD to do because everyone was doing it. Every fall we look forward to the Newport Liberty Half because it felt like a running block party because we constantly bumped into people we knew and afterwards, we got together to celebrate with a massive brunch. Plus when we lived in Hoboken, it was wonderful waking up a half hour before the start time, putting on our clothes and casually strolling to the start line because we lived *that* close.
Now that we live 8 miles away in Brooklyn (this may not seem like a far distance to non-New York friends, but trust me, it’s an epic journey through Manhattan traffic in rush hour), Ben was worried that we would no longer do the Newport Liberty Half. I stared at him in disbelief and reassured him, “Of course, we’re going!” It’s an annual tradition that we go and that was that. So it was with great pleasure that I received an invitation from the Newport Liberty Half Marathon to be one of their official bloggers. (Disclosure: I will be receiving a free race entry. I have also blogged for them in 2013 and 2014. The opinions expressed are my own.)
Why Run the Newport Liberty Half
The Newport Liberty Half Marathon is one of the biggest races in the state of New Jersey. It’s the USATF-NJ’s Mens’s, Women’s, & Master’s Half Marathon Championship. It gives away over $3000 in prize money. As such, it attracts a number of elite and sub-elite runners. Even if you’re aren’t as accomplished as a runner, many New Jersey running clubs use the Newport Liberty Half as their big fall half marathon. When we lived in Hoboken, all summer long we chattered with our friends about running goals and fall races, and inevitably the Newport Liberty Half came up in our conversations.
The Newport Liberty Half is a great course to set you up for a PR. I did it in 2012 with an 11-minute improvement from the HM time I set earlier in May. The course is flat, except for an incline over an on-ramp early in the half and another gentler incline later while approaching the waterfront.
The beautiful Jersey City waterfront with its view of the Manhattan skyline and Liberty State Park’s view of the grand dame, Lady Liberty are often given as the highlights of the course’s scenery, but the rows of stately brownstones in the neighborhood of Paulus Hook and the striking warehouse, The Powerhouse, in the Powerhouse Arts District also should be noted. The course of the Newport Liberty Half winds around the gems of Jersey City.
For those not looking to PR, an early fall half is great timing for later races. By mid-September, the weather usually cooperates by cooling down and whisking summer’s humidity away. An early fall half is a great way to test all the hot summer training. For those training for an October marathon, many training plans prescribe a long run of about 13 miles around this time. Using a race as a supported long run helps break up the tedium of training alone. I, personally, also find running a race to train to be more fun. It’s a great way to simulate race day situations and make final tune-ups so you’re race ready for your big day.
I’ve noticed that many New Yorkers, particularly those of the Manhattan variety, wonder how they would get to New Jersey. The Newport Liberty Half is incredibly easy by public transit because the start line is just outside of the Newport PATH station. There are several stations in Manhattan, particularly in Midtown. Just know that there is no direct weekend train to Newport from the World Trade Center location. The PATH trains are cheap, fast and clean. A single ride is $2.75. A metro card can be used to get on the PATH; unfortunately if you have an unlimited metro card, you must buy a separate ticket.
If you are driving to the race, free parking is available in the North Garage at 561 Washington Blvd (enter on Washington Boulevard). Please do NOT park at the Modell’s parking lot across the street. It’s really tempting, I know, but we’ve seen runners get tickets.
We love hanging around after the race. There’s a jovial post-race atmosphere. A live band plays music. We nosh on bagels. We cheer for our friends. Once everyone has crossed the finish line, we have a very important and serious decision to make – where to go for brunch. There’s a plethora of choices and here are a few notable ones. If you don’t have a car, you can use the Light Rail in addition to the PATH to get around town.
For the traditionalist, I recommend either going to Brownstone Diner & Pancake Factory (426 Jersey Ave, Jersey City; use the light rail) or Stacks (506 Washington St, Hoboken; use PATH and get off at Hoboken Station) for post-race pancakes. Both serve many different varieties of light and fluffy pancakes. We have a slight preference for Stacks over Brownstone because the pancakes are fluffier and they have the most incredible complimentary corncakes.
One of our favorite places for brunch is Los Tres Chilitos in Jersey Heights (car or light rail). It’s a small family-run Mexican restaurant. We’re absolutely crazy about their huevos rancheros and their lovely friendly service.
If burgers and fries are what you’re looking for post-race, I recommend 1 Republik in Hoboken (PATH to Hoboken Station). They have a patio area in front of the establishment and it’s not uncommon to see runners wearing their finisher medals while wolfing down their enormous burgers.
Be sure to check out the other official blog partners for the Newport Liberty Half. They’ll be sharing training tips and hosting a race entry giveaway.
Come run with me at the Newport Liberty Half Marathon!