Ship Bottom Sprint for Life Looking for Runners to Sign Up
March is the time for people to put on their running shoes and hit the road after the winter layoff. Maria Pennisi is hoping such enthusiasts will participate in the Saturday, April 8, Sprint for Life in Ship Bottom, an event she organized 15 years ago to raise money for the National Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of New Jersey.
The sprint begins and ends at the borough’s waterfront/boat ramp park. Registration is underway for the 5K run, which begins at 12:30 p.m., immediately followed by a 2-mile fitness walk.
Fee for the 5K run and fitness walk is $22 before March 31 and $27 after that date up until the time of the race. Each participant who preregisters gets a free T-shirt.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a competitive or a casual runner or walker,” said Pennisi. “What’s most important is having fun and helping a very important cause.”
In addition, a “Kidz Mini-Sprint” begins at 11:15. It is open to children ages 4 to 11. The fee for the quarter-mile race is $10. T-shirts are given to the first 250 participants.
“One of the characters from Meridian Health’s Pawsitive Action team will be at the mini-sprint, giving high-fives as they cross the finish line,” she said.
A Manahawkin resident, Pennisi said she is hoping for much better weather than last year.
“We had wind, rain and snow,” she said. “We usually get between 700 and 800 people, but the weather cut down our turnout to around 500.”
An after-race party will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. at Joe Pop’s Shore Bar in Ship Bottom, where there will be a free buffet and drink specials. Sprint participants pay $5; those who want to attend only the party are admitted for $10.
Pennisi began the event as a tribute to her father, Vito “Vic” Pennisi, who at the time had recently been diagnosed with leukemia. After he died in 2009, she was even more determined to continue the cause.
Since the sprint’s inception, she estimated the event has raised more than $100,000. She said a small percentage of the proceeds will go to David’s Dream and Believe Cancer Foundation and the Maximilian Foundation.
People can register by calling Pennisi at 609-709-4576 or logging onto shipbottomsprint.com. Donations can be made at any time to the National Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of New Jersey by sending them to Pennisi at P.O. Box 423, Ship Bottom, N.J. 08008.
— Eric Englund