As parents, it means a lot to me and my husband to show our kids the importance of health and wellness and make it a priority for our family life. So on a sunny spring morning, we were excited to check out RWJBarnabas Health’s Family Day in Long Branch. RWJBarnabas Health runs this event as a part of New Jersey’s biggest running weekend; the New Jersey Marathon and Half Marathon. With a 5K, kids’ races, and tons of activities for the family, all right along the beach in Long Branch, we knew it would be a perfect way to get our weekend started.
Racer and mini-racer ready to run at RWJBarnabas Health Family Day & New Jersey Marathon
Since having some pretty severe back issues this pregnancy, I had to stop running, so I couldn’t race myself, but it gave me and my boys a chance to cheer on my hubby in the 5K. My 3-year-old wants to do EVERYTHING his daddy does, so it didn’t take any convincing when we asked him if he wanted to do a race of his own.
The morning kicked off with the 5K, and I don’t know about you, but there’s always something about even watching the start of a race that just gets me. The anticipation, the adrenaline, the accomplishment that’s pumping through the crowd is just so moving to me. Add in the national anthem and the sparkling ocean and it was just electric. I can only imagine the feeling the hundreds of runners for the New Jersey Marathon had at the starting line.
Despite a really windy day, these runners got it done and my husband, who’s a pretty avid runner but certainly not an avid racer, was pretty happy with his time. Seeing him cross the finish line and watching my boys cheer him on with such excitement was so heartwarming and fun. It also gave my son an idea of what to expect and got him even more excited about his first race.
Family fun time at RWJBarnabas Health Family Day at the New Jersey Marathon
But first, it was time to check out the festivities, which we knew the kiddos would love. In addition to informational and sponsor tents, RWJBarnabas Health set up a variety of games for families to enjoy together. My toddlers loved kicking around the soccer ball, hula hooping and being introduced to cornhole and the ring toss. It was so cute to see parents and their kids playing together and watching the littles make new friends through the games. Mascots like the Rutgers Scarlet Knight roamed around and were a clear hit with the kids. Therapy dogs who work with patients at the hospitals were also on hand for families to pet and interact with, and my one-year-old couldn’t get enough! He kept following them around saying ‘woof!” Unfortunately, the bounce houses had to come down because of the intense winds, which led to a temporary toddler situation. But, it was quickly remedied with a spider tattoo and popcorn snack, courtesy of a sponsor tent. We also got to talk with the RWJBarnabas Health team about the goal behind this event and much of what they do: to promote health and wellness at every chance they get. And this event really did just that, and in such a fun way.
Ready, set, race with RWJBarnabas Health
Before we knew it, it was time for the kids’ races. With everything from a 1.2 mile for bigger kids to a 50 yard dash for the really little ones (like mine), there was something for every age and ability, which was great. They lined the kids up by age set and it was the cutest thing watching the older kids break through the banner. The pure joy and excitement on the kids’ and parents’ faces was priceless.
Then, it was our little guy’s turn. Despite a rough start (he didn’t want to run without us), but once his daddy tagged along, he was off! He got a kick out of the police officers cheering him on and helping the kids through the course, and of course, when he crossed the finish line and saw a medal just for him, he was all smiles.
All in all, it was an awesome morning of getting out and active together showing our kids that it’s important to put health first, and that there are a lot of enjoyable ways to do it. We’re already talking about next year’s RWJBarnabas Health Family Day and New Jersey Marathon, and mommy (pushing baby girl in the stroller) and our one-year-old joining in on the races. And let’s put it this way, after such a full, fun morning, it was a zonked out car ride home for our boys and a really good night’s sleep for all of us!
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