Brunswick Cup 5K Races Foster Connection Between the Four Brunswicks

THE BRUNSWICKS, NJ—There are a few things that connect all four municipalities in Middlesex County that go by the name Brunswick, and for nine years, 5k races have been among them.

The 2014 Brunswick Cup is a series of 5k races that kicked off on Memorial Day at North Brunswick Community Park and concluded on November 2 in South Brunswick High School.

The series has been enjoyed by runners and walkers of all levels and was started nine years ago by Robert Tona, a resident of South Brunswick, and board member of the Raritan Valley Road Runners Club (RVRR).

Tona’s idea for a race series in Middlesex County was inspired by the Jersey Shore Grand Prix, a series of five 5k’s all in different towns.

"There is a lot of good running in central New Jersey. We just don’t promote it.”

With that model in mind, his efforts made the central Jersey series actually happen: “I went to the Jimmy D 5k in year one and there were over a thousand runners and I was like wow this is a race – my race was coming up in November, that year, so I went there to hand out my flyers; I was trying to piggy back off of [the success of New Brunswick’s Jimmy D 5k]”, he said.

Lu Ann Benson is the Director of Parks/Recreation and Community Services for North Brunswick Township, and Race Director for the 5k in North Brunswick. She is passionate about promoting fitness at all levels. She told NB Today she feels the Brunswick Cup has fostered a connection between the towns as they work cooperatively together.

“It’s a history and flavoring of home town traditions for us and I have to say I’ve been able to be a part of it since its inception,” said Benson, who actually started working for the township when she was only 16.

"I have to say the highlight for our community as a whole is the volunteer spirit that is out on the course. We have our boy scouts, our cub scouts, our girl scouts, our senior citizens, and our youth council members and they are all along the course handing out water and helping set up during the day,” said Benson.

This year marked the final Jimmy D 5k on Aug. 31. As we reported, it went out in style.

However, Tona is searching for another race which would replace the Jimmy D 5k so that the series still includes four races.

“We are hoping it’s not going to be the last year [of the Brunswick Cup Series],” he told NBToday.

“The Jimmy D 5K is an important part of the Brunswick Cup.”

Tona explained how the Jimmy D 5k was the first race he went to when he conceived of the idea for the series.

“Erin Varga was very approachable she was easy to work with,” he said

Tona now needs a race in New Brunswick that would be willing to participate. However, if he cannot find another race, he would consider continuing the series with only the three remaining 5k’s he told NBToday.

He cited a couple of races he has in mind: The Big Chill; a popular RU Housing event held in December at the College Avenue Gym; and the 9/11 Survival Run, which he said is organized as a corporate event (other 9/11 Survival Run’s take place throughout the country).

The weather was 64 degrees and picture perfect on Oct ober 12 for the third race in the series, the East Brunswick 37th annual John Ragone 5k, as well as a 10k race.  193 runners completed the 5k, which was held at the Cyrstal Springs Aquatic Center on Dunhams Corner Road.

Now in his third year as East Brunswick Road Races Treasurer, Eric Saurer, told NBT: “It was a great day for a race. Great weather, really great course – nice and shady – good field of runners. It was just a great day for a race.”

He added that a lot of people from East Brunswick come out and run, but also people from the other Brunswicks run East Brunswick as well – many because they want to receive a Brunswick Cup prize after the Run With the Vikings 5k on Nov. 2.

Mike Dixon, a RVRR member, and resident of Fanwood won the 10K.  He told NBToday: "Once again, I am very satisfied with the organization of [East Brunswick Road Races]. Everybody was all smiles out there… This is a great course for a fast time and it's nice to see everybody enjoying their accomplishments in such a beautiful setting."

Now in its 10th consecutive year, held on the same Sunday as the New York City Marathon, South Brunswick's Run With The Vikings 5K rounds out the series, and all runners who finished at least three of the four 5k’s received a 2014 Brunswick Cup commemorative glass.

“Every year we have increased the number of people that are participating in at least three of the four races,” Tona said.

“I think the first year we had about 40, and last year we had close to 100.”

Dave is an award-winning business reporter who has authored over 200 articles for New Brunswick Today.