Atlantic City Marathon Weekend 

Since the Milton & Betty Katz JCC took over operation of the Atlantic City Marathon in 2009, it has grown into 
a multi-faceted, weekend-long event that now sees about 4,500 competitors.

By Ray Schweibert
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Hopefully the Atlantic City Marathon will one day serve as a microcosm for the city whose name it bears — an entity that fell on hard times only to reverse its fortunes and recover stronger than ever. 

Back in 2009 the United States’ third oldest marathon (behind New York City and Boston, the latter of which is held each April and uses the A.C. Marathon as a qualifier) almost disappeared, a year after its 50th birthday. Like a knight on a white horse, the Milton and Betty Katz Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Margate came to its rescue, growing its combined participation from about 1,000 runners that first year to over 3,000 in 2011 and nearly 4,500 this year, including participants in shorter-distance races. It did so in a fashion similar to what Atlantic City itself is attempting to do — steer itself away from the image of a niche town for gambling to one of diversity. 

The event saw declining enrollment as merely a marathon, so the JCC incorporated such enticements as a two-day sports and fitness expo, a variety of distances and offshoot races to attract a wider variety of runners, it tweaked the main marathon route and dotted the course with entertainment and “cheer zones,” and treated all runners in the two longest distances (marathon and half-marathon) to a pasta dinner at Bally’s the night before the race. The race committee also created in the Dennis Courtyard a “Finishers Village” where completers of the race can celebrate (or commiserate) with one another about what they’ve just achieved. 

Click the video below to see highlights of the 2012 A.C. Marathon Weekend


The JCC also used its collective heads to work toward its humanitarian causes. The Atlantic City Race Series (including springtime events like the April Fools Half Marathon, 11K and 7K races) supports local community charitable works as well as the JCC’s own Early Childhood Scholarship programs. The fall section of the series includes, along with Sunday’s (Oct. 21) marathon and half-marathon, a Kids Fit Final Mile and One-Mile Run, and 5K and 10K races on Saturday (Oct. 20). Additionally, the 26.2-mile marathon course (which goes through the A.C. Connector tunnel and traverses areas like A.C.’s marina district and Margate’s Amherst Avenue dining/entertainment district) stays open for 6.5 hours to allow runners of all levels adequate time to finish.

And with so many runners competing in so many events, A.C. Marathon Weekend represents a cross-section of society hailing from many different areas, and competing for a variety of reasons. Among them are Tommy Waszaj, age 24, of Princeton and Jayden Nogueras, 6, of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. 

Waszaj will be competing in Sunday’s half-marathon as a partner with the organization Dribble the World. The former collegiate basketball player will attempt to run the entire 13.1 miles while dribbling a basketball in an effort to raise $5,000 for Liquid Water, a non-profit group that brings safe drinking water to parts of the world where it is lacking.

“Here in America we are so blessed — we have access to safe, clean drinking water just about anywhere we go,” says Waszaj. “However there are many people in other countries who don’t have that same privilege. It’s my goal to raise enough money to provide one clean water well to a village in need … I’m excited about the challenge and the possibility of raising this money for such a worthy cause.”

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