By Kayla J. Marsh
MIDDLETOWN – A new race coming to the Jersey Shore will bring together runners of all abilities at one of the state’s most iconic sites.
Peak Projects, a new full-service event management and production company founded by two Monmouth County natives, will hold its inaugural “Run The Hook” race May 15 at Sandy Hook National Park.
The race will feature 5K and 10K distances for runners of all abilities.
And founders Daragh Kneeshaw and Joey Garofalo said they hope it is the start of a new tradition for years to come.
“Monmouth County and Ocean County have races that have been traditions for years … but Sandy Hook has yet to have a race that has become a true staple open to runners of all abilities all over,” Kneeshaw said. “I think we found that niche here and I think it is only going to grow into a true tradition to kick off the summer in the Jersey Shore area.”
Proceeds from every registration fee will benefit race partner Clean Ocean Action, a local nonprofit whose mission is to improve and protect the water quality of oceans along New Jersey and New York coastlines.
“With ‘Run the Hook’ we saw an opportunity to bring a really great 5K and 10K race to the Jersey Shore, so we went ahead and did it and we found a great partner in Clean Ocean Action,” Garofalo said. “They are really excited to work with us and it really is the perfect charity to partner with on a race like this in this area.”
Aside from offering participants a view of one of the Jersey Shore’s most scenic areas, Garofalo said he hopes the new race will add and contribute to already vibrant local running community in the area.
“Our goals are really to build on the already existing running community here and just bring people together and have a great day and create some really great experiences for people,” he said.
“We would love to increase the exposure of the park to people who don’t live in the area [and] we have been really excited about the initial response to the race over the last few weeks.
“This event is unique … [and] is great for us because with this being our first event with Peak Projects, we proved to ourselves that we were able to pull an event of this size together … and it feels good to have that response being there and rewarding for the work we have put in so far.”
Registration for the race is open at http://www.runthehooknj.com/register/.
Runners can register for the 10K race for $40 and the 5K race for $30.
Registration includes access to the race, custom t-shirts, gift bags with products and coupons from race sponsors, timed chip results and entry for a party at a nearby bar after the race.
Local food trucks will also be on the grounds for spectators to enjoy.
“I think this is the start of a great community tradition in the area and we’re more than excited to build our inaugural event on our home beach,” Kneeshaw said. “We both come from the area and our families still live there and we take a lot of pride in being able to bring our communities together for what is sure to be a long-standing tradition in the race world and Jersey Shore area.”
Both Kneeshaw and Garofalo were born and raised along the Jersey Shore and are excited their new company can bring their inaugural event to Monmouth County.
“Joey and I have known each other for over 10 years now,” Kneeshaw said. “We went to college together … and we kind of always joked about starting our own thing together and just kind of always had that entrepreneurial bug and … a year ago it kind of just hit us that there was no better time to do this.
“We’re both in a position where we can kind of take that risk and see what happens and I think for a while we were looking for reasons why it wasn’t the time yet to start it and we decided we might as well give it a shot and see what happens.”
Peak Projects was borne from a desire to create and cultivate unique experiences built on a few basic principles — accountability, artistic integrity and community.
“We want to work with people who are like-minded, who share the same values as us and work on projects that we believe in and Run the Hook is a perfect example of that,” Kneeshaw said.
“Our goal with this race is to build upon it every year and create a tradition and right now … as a brand new company there are so many moving pieces that go into executing any type of event … but at the end of the day it is about putting the pieces together and I think that will stand to the company we want to build and to the events we want to produce.
“I think our blood, shed and tears will really show it is coming from these two guys who have built this thing from the ground up.”
Garofalo said it is exciting to have the company’s debut event right in their own backyard.
“One of the main reasons we started the company was because we really just want to create ways for people to come together and I think events are a great way to do that,” he said.