Hazlet Running Club Welcomes Members

Hazlet Running Club members, Aug. 4, 2019
Members of the Hazlet Running Club at Thompson Park, Middletown, August 4, 2019. From left, Jim Higgins, Dave Suma, Adam Garcia, Greg Calhoun, Sean Calhoun, Steve Owens, Paul Henry and Mike Christopher. Photo by Christina Johnson

The Hazlet Running Club is gaining momentum.

Twice a week, a small group of Hazlet friends meets for exercise in different parks. Several of them have remained friends since Raritan High School cross country and track days. Recently, a photo showing off their new branded t-shirt, designed by founder and chief motivator, Gregory Calhoun, brought attention and an influx of new members to their Hazlet Running Club Facebook Group.

David Suma running in Thompson Park, NJ
Hazlet Running Club member David Suma, 52, who grew up in Hazlet but now lives in Brick, returns regularly to run 3-5 miles with old friends on the trails to stay in shape. He is wearing the club t-shirt. “I don’t belong to a gym. This is my gym,” he said. Photo by Christina Johnson

On Sunday, Aug. 4, eight members of the Hazlet Running Club gathered at the Thompson Park playground in Lincroft at 8 a.m. while it was still cool. Some ran and some walked the 1-mile shaded track loop. Last Sunday there were 12. Sometimes they tackle the hills at Holmdel Park, or the wooded trails at Hartshorne Woods in Middletown and Manasquan River Reservoir in Howell. During the week, they get together at different places close to Hazlet. They joke around, encourage each other and talk about their common Hazlet roots. On Sunday, the light banter was about their paperboy delivery routes and high school cross country training runs at Natco Lake Park.

Calhoun, 50, who has been inducted into athletic halls of fame at both Raritan High School and Rider for his running achievements, started the club in 2016. “I’ve run my whole life. I grew up in Hazlet, I live in Hazlet. I saw people running. I thought, why not start a running club?” he said.

He started by gathering friends he knew from school days, and it grew from there. The club runners are mostly male and in the 30-52 age range, and recently some women have been coming out. Sometimes they all bring their kids, and sometimes they all bring their dogs. Calhoun wants to encourage anyone, at any level, to turn out. Everyone is welcome.

He has big dreams for Hazlet Running, which he says is still “in its infancy” with potential to grow. A father of three, he wants to inspire everyone to experience the joy of running like he does, especially younger kids. “I do want to open it up to younger kids. I want to develop it to have kids join and promote good health,” he said. He is thinking about having a table at the upcoming Hazlet Day on Sept. 28.

Hazlet Running Club, July 7. From left: Jim Costigan, Gregory Calhoun, Greg Realmuto, Paul Henry, Rob DiLaurenzio, Adam Garcia and Chris McGreevy. Photo courtesy HRC

In years past, some of Hazlet’s running community were involved in hosting a town 5K race, and it brought out runners, joggers and walkers who raised money for charity. But the last 5K races, organized by volunteer Joe Marques, were held 2009 through 2012. In that final year, 319 runners turned out of Green Acres Drive to run towards Airport Plaza along the county road and returned to the Hazlet swim club parking lot to cheers and cut-up oranges. (See my 2012 article and photos on Patch.)

It was a great turnout, very festive and “a tremendous amount work,” recalled Mike Christopher, 60, chairman of the Hazlet Recreation Commission and a runner with Hazlet Running Club. Planning took the better part of the year, he said, and it was challenging to arrange for the closure of busy Middle Road, a county roadway. “If there’s a volunteer out there that would like to take it on, by all means, we’d love to partner with them,” he said.

Calhoun confesses he’s thought about getting a 5K going in Hazlet. “I could spearhead it, but I would have to have a lot of help,” he said. He’s already working overtime as a busy financial consultant, he explained.

Meanwhile, Hazlet Recreation commissioners may decide to come about it another way, by possibly hosting a color run, in which runners are doused in powdery colors and participants can raise money for favorite causes. They are good fun, and also make for great photos.

“It’s under discussion,” said Christopher. “Absolutely, all these activities and events would be good for Hazlet.”

There are no fees to join the Hazlet Running Club and anyone can join them at the parks to run or walk together. Look for announcements on the Facebook Group page or contact Greg Calhoun by texting him at 732-567-3874.

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