More than 400 people will head to Community Park on April 7 to run a half marathon across Robbinsville.
The inaugural Star of Hope Half Marathon will take runners though 13 miles of rural Robbinsville roads. The course begins and ends at Community Park while taking runners on Sharon, Windsor-Perrineville, Bresnahan and Gordon roads.
The half marathon will benefit Thea’s Star of Hope, a Robbinsville-based nonprofit that raises funds for pediatric brain tumor programs and research. After three years of hosting a 5K to benefit Thea’s Star of Hope, president Trisha Danze said registration rates stalled.
“There are so many 5Ks around,” Danze said. “Competing against all the other ones is hard. You kind of get lost in the crowd.”
As Danze was looking for a new event to replace the 5K, Robbinsville resident Tom Eng was dreaming up another idea—a half marathon held right in his own town.
After talking to Eng about his idea for a Robbinsville half marathon, Danze decided that it would be a perfect way to raise money for Thea’s Star of Hope. While there are no shortage of 5Ks in the area, runners often have to travel outside of Mercer County to run distance races. By bringing a half marathon to Robbinsville, Eng and Danze hope they can encourage local runners to come out and support their cause.
“I think a lot of runners are happy to do something for a great cause,” Danze said. All proceeds from the race will benefit pediatric brain tumor research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Despite their previous experience with event planning—Danze helps plan the Thea’s Star of Hope gala every year and Eng previously directed the Hightstown Triathlon—the half marathon is their biggest event to date.
“From somebody that has never planned an event like this before, the logistics are tough,” Danze said. To ensure that everything runs smoothly on race day, the organizers worked out race details with members of the township recreation and police departments.
Eng worked to design a USATR-certified course with Robbinsville Police Sgt. Thomas Egan. They had to design a course that only utilized township-owned roads to avoid issues that come with getting county or state approval. Another challenge has been recruiting and training enough volunteers to sustain a 13.1-mile course. The course has seven water stations, multiple porta-jons and two medical stations.
It seems as though the organizers’ work has paid off. The race, which is capped at 500 runners for the first year, is almost sold out.
“I think the community has been really fantastic,” Danze said. “There are a lot of runners from Robbinsville that are participating. Some of them, [the course] actually runs down their street.”
Runners will receive a participation medal after they cross the finish line, which is set up to have a festival-like atmosphere with food trucks, music and vendor/sponsor booths.
Registration is $79 for the half marathon and $45 to join a relay team through March 17. If runners fundraise $150 for Thea’s Star of Hope, their registration fee is waived.
For more information about the event, including opportunities to volunteer, visit runsignup.com/starofhopehalfmarathon.