The third annual Superhero Half Marathon will take place on Sunday, May 20 at Ginty Field. Crossing the finish line isn't the only goal participants have in mind; event organizers are hoping to break the Guinness World Record for the most superheroes in one place.
The race kicks off at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, and participants are invited to dress up as superheroes as they run through Morris Township, Chatham and Harding.
Chris Russo, one of the event organizers, said that in past years he has seen people dress up in everything from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to Superman, Batman, and Robin. Some dress up in really extravagant and flamboyant outfits, he said.
In previous years, Russo said, about 30 percent of participants dressed up, but he thinks it will be closer to 80 percent this year because of all the excitement in breaking the world record.
The current record is from 2010, when 1,580 people attended a gathering to promote the film Megamind—a 2010 animated film starring Will Ferrell and Brad Pitt.
"We're looking to break that with 1,581 or greater," Russo said.
More than 1,800 people have registered so far, and organizers are anticipating over 2,000 on race day.
Peggy Kenney Simmons of Florham Park has been training for 18 weeks with two of her co-workers, Christine Burke and Sal Tromonda, and is eager to participate.
"I'm very excited, it should be fun, and I want to finish in less than two hours," she said.
Although she's never participated in a half-marathon, Simmons ran a full marathon back in 1993, and has done several 5K and 10K races.
Burke, of Hoboken, said she hopes to finish under 2 hours and 15 minutes. She has run some 5Ks over the years, but never any long distances.
"I'm looking forward to having a good time running with friends and finishing the race," she said.
Registration is still open, and it costs $70 per runner. The price started at $50, but increased as it got closer to the event. Participants can sign up on Friday and Saturday at the Morristown Running Company, and can register on race day at the site.
The proceeds will go to two charities, the American Cancer Society and Meals on Wheels. Some of the money will also go to Ridge High School, as a donation for a college scholarship. The high school sends about 80 students to volunteer at the race.
In the past two years, the race supported the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation for spinal cord injury and paralysis research. Last year Russo said, the race raised $11,000 for just the foundation, not including Ridge High School, and he has seen an increase since the first race.
"Every year we're able to raise more money for the organization," he said.
Prizes will be awarded to both the best costumes and top finishers. The top three overall male and female, top relay teams—including the top male, female, and mixed relays—and the top age group will receive awards.
Kicking off at Ginty Field, racers will run towards Woodland Avenue to Loantaka Park, up Spring Valley Road, and back down toward Blackberry Lane and South Street. They'll do that loop twice to complete the half marathon.
Police are warning motorists to look out for detours and delays on these streets starting shortly after 8 a.m. and lasting for about three hours.
Russo and his partner, Heather Gardiner, manager of Morristown Running Company, founded the company Superhero Events three years ago. It holds other events such as the Randolph Lake Triatholon and the Run 4 The Seeing Eye.
For more information about the event, visit the race's website at www.superherohalf.com.