06/13/2018 9:38 AM
READINGTON, NJ --- Right from the starting gun, the Running with the Balloons 5K is not your typical race.
Participants race through the QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in Association with PNC Bank, the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America, as 100 hot air balloons fly overhead.
Before runners can take off, human cannonball and Guinness world record holder David “The Bullet” Smith will perform as the starter’s pistol when he’s shot 150 feet in the air from a 34-foot-long cannon.
The 9th edition of the annual race will take place Sunday, July 29, at 8:00 a.m. at Solberg Airport in Readington, NJ.
Just as the balloon festival has grown to International status, the Running with Balloons has grown in stature, too.
USA Today named it one of the 10 great 5K runs to build a vacation around for its spectacular scenery.
The Active Times named it one of the Top 10 5K races in the United States, citing it for its competitive field, fast course, scenic setting, charitable support and providing the unique experience of racing during one of the Festival’s early morning mass hot air balloon ascensions.
The Running with the Balloons 5K combines the elements of cross-country with a traditional road race. The flat, fast, low-impact course features a mix of surfaces including grass, pavement, gravel and dirt road. The USATF-NJ sanctioned race is worth 500 points towards the New Jersey Grand Prix.
Runners start off on a grass field near the Festival’s Family Fun Center and race past the balloon launch field while Sunday morning’s mass hot air balloon ascension takes place. The course takes them along different surfaces around Solberg Airport and finishes in the heart of the Festival.
The top male and female winners each receive a free ride in a balloon.
“We have taken great strides to make our 5K a memorable experience,” said Festival Executive Producer Howard Freeman. “The layout of the course is unique, you’re running on multiple surfaces around and through the Festival while 100 balloons are in the sky above you. And you’ll have no reason to have a false start as we fire our human cannonball to begin the race.”
The Running with the Balloons 5K is part of the Festival’s Health & Wellness activities, which include sunrise yoga led by Christine Spinelli of Sphericality in Flemington and jazzercise workouts in the Festival’s Corporate Hospitality Village. Propel Fitness Water and the SNY television network return as partners for this growing event on the area’s racing calendar.
All runners’ entries include free all-day admission into the Festival, free parking, lawn seating to Sunday afternoon’s Creedence Clearwater Revisited concert, a commemorative t-shirt, and access to both the morning and evening scheduled mass hot air balloon ascensions. The top three overall male and female finishers each receive non-cash prizes.
In keeping with the Festival’s belief in “doing well by doing good,” a portion of the proceeds benefit the Center for Educational Advancement (CEA) for people with special needs in Flemington and the Children’s Miracle Network.
The 36th annual QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in Association with PNC Bank, July 27-28-29, 2018 features twice a day mass ascensions of more than 100 sport and special shaped hot air balloons from around the world, live concerts, and 39 hours of family entertainment and attractions. Upwards of 165,000 people are expected.
To register or learn more visit www.balloonfestival.com/entertainment/5k.
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