Fourth’s Firecracker race returns to Wall

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For the first time, the Wall Township Recreation DepartmentÕs Firecracker 5 has been shortened to a 5K, after more than three decades as a five-mile race. Each man who crosses the finish line receives an American flag, and each woman a red rose. [MARK R. SULLIVAN / THE COAST STAR]

WALL TOWNSHIP — Hundreds of runners crossed the finish line at Wall Municipal Complex for the reinvented version of the annual Firecracker-five mile race on a beautiful Fourth of July.

The township’s annual patriotic race, going on 33 years now, typically is a five-mile race that runs throughout the township, shutting down many busy intersections for about an hour each year. 

This year’s Firecracker race was shrunk to a 5K and held at the course at the municipal complex due to the uncertainties of the coronavirus pandemic. The race was canceled due to the pandemic in 2020.

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Fred Rummell, who has organized the race since its inception, said he only had about a month to plan this year’s race, when he typically has about six months.

Mr. Rummell said he was devastated to have to cancel the race last year, but was happy to be able to host something for Wall runners this year, even if it was a 5K. However, next year he hopes the firecracker can return to its normal course.

“It was very uneventful [switching race to 5K]. More people adapted to the 5K because that seems to be a distance that most can run. The five-miler can be a little intimidating but I plan on going back to the five-mile next year, and the mayor and committee agree with me.”

A variable that can make or break the race each year is the weather, Mr. Rummell said. He said having a race on the Fourth of July can be difficult due to heat and humidity, which is why it begins at 8:30 a.m. This year, the weather was impeccable.

“If I could bottle up that weather, I would,” he said.  “Sunday, I think at the start of the race it was 73 [degrees]. I think in other years I’ve had closer to 173. It was very, very pleasant.’

EMTs were on bicycles, and there were two water stations on the course to keep runners hydrated in case of heat.

Taking place on the nation’s Independence Day, the day gets “very patriotic,” Mr. Rummell said. Before the race, the national anthem is sung, followed by a moment of silence.

“I always say we must have a moment of silence for the men and women that cannot be here with us but give us the opportunity each year to do this,” he said.

After crossing the finish line, each woman is given a long-stem red rose and each man receives an American flag.

Mr. Rummell thanked all who made this year’s race possible, including the Police Department, Department of Public Works and the governing body. He especially thanked all of the volunteers.

“I just want to thank everyone that had something to do with it. People don’t realize it, but you cannot have an event like this without volunteers,” he said.

Check out our other Wall Township stories, updated daily. And remember to pick up a copy of The Coast Star—on newsstands Thursday or online in our e-Edition.

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