We hit the ground running—quite literally—as runners. And as much as we do it for ourselves we often do it for others. We aspire to be a role for our children and families. We also run in honor of those who can’t. And as much as we sign up for races for our own agendas, at the heart of these events is its charitable aspect. All the races I’ve competed at served as fundraisers for worthy causes, Stomp the Monster stood out to me this spring/summer race season.

We all have been affected by cancer—whether it’s losing a loved one, or knowing survivors, or being a survivor ourselves. So I dedicated this run to family members I have lost to the disease, celebrating their lives in my memories and finding solace knowing they were there with me during the run—and always.

Stomp the Monster is a charitable organization that provides financial and other support to cancer patients and their families. It also promotes exercise and healthy lifestyles as part of preventive care. It was created by Ironman Triathlete Seth Grumet. The husband and father of three, despite being in great shape, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. After a long road with lots of surgeries and setbacks, Grumet lives cancer free.

Each year the organization hold a 5k in the spring that consists of the race and a festival. It’s a great event for competitive runners and families alike, with so many people coming out to support the good cause.

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There I am running with the stroller!

The Location

Held on Sunday, June 3, the 8th Annual Stomp the Monster race took place at the Marlboro Recreation Center in Marlboro, NJ. Not only was this race for a cause that hits close to home personally, it was also located close my home making it the closest race I ever had to travel too in just the next town over. This made it super convenient when it came to getting my toddler up, fed, and out the door for his kids’ race (which I will get into later).

Check in started bright and early at 8 a.m. and there was race day registration. This was all set up inside the basketball court where children ran around circling each other in anticipation of the event. Runners chatted and stretched. Others gathered right outside the building, parking their strollers and popping a squat on the curb.

There were volunteers directing runners where to go, which was easy to find since the starting line was right ahead. To the left was a jungle gym and booths already set up for the post-race festivities.

The Kids Runs

To the right of the recreation center in the open lot space volunteers held signs that broke down the kids by age groups. The kids’ races kicked off the morning, and this was among the most organized kids’ event we have attended. We knew exactly where to go and was explained what to expect, where the little ones would start from, and were encouraged to take pictures at the end near the finish.

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My little guy was part of the last group to go, the 3 and under crowd. Holding my hand, I knelt down to give my mini-me and mini pep talk and it wasn’t long (thank you race organizers since toddlers get antsy) before the kids were off. There were crowds to the right and left of the path, cheering on the pint-sized racers. Now more comfortable at the whole racing scene, my little guy kept trucking on unfazed.

I am so happy race photographers were on hand to capture the moment of my little runner. I have watched him improve so much which sounds a bit crazy considering he is so little, but it is so true that he is getting into the sport. He did not want to stop during this one, super determined and chased after those in front of him. Towards the end he even let me let go of his hand and I stepped ahead so that he could finish all by himself. I couldn’t have been more proud.

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All the kids got medals with Stomp the Monster on them, and there wasn’t a child in sight without a smile.

The Main Event

It was then time for the mile fun run/walk that started at 10 a.m. This gave us time to stretch and get warmed up. A short half hour later it was time to line up. What I really liked about this 5k was the fact that there were pacer signs at the starting line held by volunteers. This allowed for an organized start without being overcrowded. It also meant that I didn’t have to be the back of the pack with my stroller.

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The gun went off and we were off. I felt fast and strong and the course was well defined and consisted of running passed the elementary school, throughout the neighborhood a bit before looping around and heading back to where the starting line was.

Overall, it was a good race for me. I pushed myself and tried to fly on this one. I finished in 31:21. My overall place was 307, and even though I thought I could almost place for age group, I fell way shy. This is still a major goal for me, but I am shelving this to now focus on longer distances and kill time off my half marathon time.

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Festivities

Following the 5k was plenty of festivities that included food, massages, a bouncy house for the kids and even a dinosaur that roared at the crowds. Post-race food was on point with sandwiches and lots of snacks. There was even a beer garden for those looking to quench their thirst with a victory beer.

The energy at this event was contagious. It was all about the community coming together and sharing their love for running. It was one of the most smoothly run races in terms of the event itself, so hats off to the organizers. It was fun and very family friendly. We can’t wait to return next year.

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