Runners celebrate chilly New Year’s Eve at Twilight Run

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[PHOTO BY DANIELLA HEMINGHAUS]

MANASQUAN — As temperatures plummeted into the low teens Sunday evening, nearly 300 runners took to the Manasquan Sea Walk to start the new year out on the right foot in the annual New Year’s Eve Twilight Run.

“I think you got to end the year on a good note and start the year on a good note too,” said Jackie Lewandoski, of Toms River, who ran with her sister, Jen Kosakowski, also of Toms River.

“It’s a nice way to end the year.”

While the fun run is traditionally a two-mile course, the frigid temperatures and snowy conditions forced organizers to shorten the race, restricting it to the Sea Walk, according to director Dan Napolitan.

“The runners, it’s great that they come out but it’s cold. That wind chill is down there so we don’t want to stress anyone. It’s icy conditions rather than run in heavier ice and snow we did the smart move and cut it a little short,” said Phil Hinck, a member of the Jersey Shore Running Club, who co-founded the Twilight Run.

“I don’t think anybody is going to complain.”

Despite the freezing temperatures and severe wind chill, the race had a strong turnout consistent with past races, Mr. Hinck said, an indication that people still enjoy running.

“They love it if they can come out in this cold weather,” he said.

According to Mr. Hinck, the New Year’s Eve Twilight Run was founded 14 years ago after members of the Jersey Shore Running Club grew tired of traveling to New York City for the annual Midnight Run.

“Our club, way back, used to send a busload of people up to the New York City Midnight Run so we would have one or two buses going up there,” Mr. Hinck said.

“After a while, after we’re getting older, we said, ‘Why don’t we do one down here?’ And that’s basically how it started.”

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