WALL TOWNSHIP — After being canceled last year, one of Wall Township’s favorite Fourth of July traditions, the Firecracker race, is coming back this summer, but with some notable differences.
For the first time, the Recreation Department’s race has been shortened to a 5K, after more than three decades as a five-mile race. Also, this year’s course will be run entirely within the municipal complex, rather than on roads throughout the township.
The race, which usually draws several hundred runners from Wall and surrounding communities, was originated by Fred Rummel, who thought the township deserved an annual run of its own.
“Well, our neighbors Spring Lake and Belmar always had their big five-mile races. So 33 years ago I came before the township committee and said ‘Hey, can we have our own race in Wall that we can be proud of?’” Mr. Rummel said.
The municipal complex has a 5K course, which is utilized by a variety of organizations for races throughout the year.
“This is a new experience, having it at the complex,” Mr. Rummel said of the Firecracker event. The township’s police and fire departments will not have to be at major road intersections directing traffic.
Mr. Rummel has been a runner for most of his life, having completed 18 marathons. He was also a mailman for nearly twenty years, doing miles of walking daily before training at night.
“It took a toll on my body,” Mr. Rummel, who no longer runs in the race but continues to walk it, said. “I’m not a runner anymore. I’m a walker, but I’m committed to the running community.”
“I’m a big volunteer now. I figured I can do what so many people have done for me in the past: hand me water, stand at an intersection and turn me the right way. So that’s what I do now,” he said.
The race ties into the township’s patriotic celebrations for the Fourth of July. The township will hand out American flags to residents in the mail to wave for the runners during the race.
So far, registrants have started trickling in, and Mr. Rummel said the enthusiasm from the community so far has been great.
“This is something that I really just love to do. I’m passionate about this,” he said. “We’re going to do as much as we have done in the past as possible.”
“We’re one of the first races to come back this year,” he said.
The race begins early at 8:30 a.m. to beat the midsummer heat, and Mr. Rummel noted that in the race’s history there have been no serious issues with the heat, in part due to all the help from the township.
“The last thing is a race to look like the Bataan Death March,” he joked. “The township has just been so helpful in the past with police directing traffic, the fire department hosing runners down, EMTs on bicycles…”
Mr. Rummel said he was devastated to have to cancel the race last year, and is happy to be able to host something for Wall runners this year, even if it’s a 5K. However, next year he hopes the Firecracker can return to its normal course.
“Next year we go back to the five-miler, we get back to the roads,” he said.
The entry fee for this year’s race is $30 before July 1 and $35 after July 1. Registration begins on the day of the race [Sunday, July 4] at 7:15 a.m. with the race beginning at 8:35 a.m. Checks can be made payable to Wall Township Recreation, 2700 Allaire Road. Fees are nonrefundable.
Numbers will be distributed on race day.
Prizes are awarded for the top three male and female finishers and the Mayor’s Trophy is awarded to the top male and female.
Additionally, prizes are awarded to the top three male and female runners in each age category, separated by five years into the following: 14 and under; 15-19; 20-24; 25-29; 30-34; 35-39; 40-44; 45-49; 50-54; 55-59; 60-64; 65-60; 70-74; 75-79; and 80 and up.
For more information or to sign up, visit https://runsignup.com/Race/NJ/WallTownship/WallFirecracker5 or call the Recreation Department 732-449-8444 Ext. 25250
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