This year's race will bring well over 4,000 runners, volunteers and spectators to Jersey City on Saturday, Sept. 24. The event is co-sponsored by the Hudson Reporter newspaper group.
"This is a big event," said Richard J. Bonsforte, the medical director of the Children's Hospital of Hudson County. "It is becoming more and more of a centerpiece for the hospital and Jersey City. What makes it so great is that with so many different distance runs, there is a chance for everyone in the community to participate."
Race history and impact on Jersey City
The Liberty Waterfront was founded in 1994 by a small group of employees at the Jersey City Medical Center who wanted to promote and raise funds for the hospital's services. The idea behind the event was to bring positive attention to city's rapidly growing waterfront community while raising much-needed money for the Children's Hospital. The race route was created to display the city's business community and its parks with views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.
"We want to show off Jersey City as an economic engine," said Liberty Healthcare CEO Jonathan Metsch. "So many people don't realize what Jersey City has to offer."
A race for everyone
The Liberty Waterfront Run caters to the athletic ability of everyone in Hudson County. From the beginning, the race had always attracted the elite in the running community. In its inaugural year, the race was given "championship status" by New Jersey Track and Field for its half-marathon race. It presented cash prizes to overall race winners.
The race is known in running circles as a good tune-up for the New York marathon that is annually held in November. Because of its timing, the half-marathon has always attracted some of the most elite runners from the New York and New Jersey areas.
But the run is not only for the gifted athlete. "The run is for people of all ages," said Run Chairman Dave Pospisil. "You don't need to be a professional. It's a fun day for the entire family. Both young and old." Other than the half-marathon, there is a 5K race that is geared to the "health runner." This race can either be for the person who strives to post a good running time or for individual who wants to see the sights while getting some exercise.
There is also going to be a 1/2-mile youth fun run where every participant receives a medal. "Parents love this event," said Bonsforte. "It allows the entire family to get involved. This race as a whole is such a terrific event. There are all kinds of different distances and levels which makes for a wide array of participation."
Benefits Children's Hospital
All of the proceeds from this year's race will go to The Children's Hospital of Hudson County. Currently housed at the Jersey City Medical Center, the hospital will move to a new space on Jersey Avenue and Grand Street, which will open in 2002. With almost 3,000 admissions and two dozen outpatient clinics, the hospital is among the largest pediatric programs in New Jersey.
The money raised this year will help buy such equipment as a cardiac respiratory monitor, a baby warmer and parent rocking chairs. "This is the singular most important fundraiser for the hospital," said Bonsforte. "It is a big event for us."
New for this year
Earlier this year, the Waterfront Run received a national designation. It is now the 2000 USA-East Region Men's & Woman's Open Half-Marathon Championship, a prestigious award by the United States Track & Field Association.
"In the past we mostly had only runners from New Jersey and New York," said Pospisil. "But with the new designation this year we will have over 150 out of state runners. They will be coming from West Virginia to Maine."
In addition to the race's designation, the Children's Hospital is also getting noticed. Within the last month, the State Department of Health granted the New Jersey Medical Center's request for the Children's Hospital's designation, joining only 5 other designated hospitals in the state.
The hospital earned the state's recognition because of its pediatric specialties and strict staffing requirements. "It is great that our pediatric program is getting recognized," said Metsch. "We are all very proud."
Registration will begin at 7 a.m. on Sept. 24 at Harborside Financial Center. For more information call 915-2040.