Cool idea on the part of some Princeton High athletes to take it upon themselves to join in the efforts in shore cleanup in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

What they’re doing is raising funds by running the New Jersey 135 mile coastline.

Just last summer, the thought of running 135 miles down the coastline of New Jersey seemed like a farfetched dream, but one that Julie Bond thought she might want to try.

She pitched the idea to her friend and cross-country teammate, Paige Metzheiser, and couldn’t believe her reaction.

“I wasn’t that serious about it, but Paige was so excited,” Bond said.

Metzheiser, a distance runner who also doubles as a sprinter on the Princeton High School track team, had a loftier ambition.

“After Hurricane Sandy happened, I thought, why not run for a cause?” she said.
After some deliberation, the two 16-year-old athletes decided they would do their run for charity, choosing to work with Alliance for a Living Ocean, which has helped to rebuild the dunes at the Shore following Hurricane Sandy.

On Sunday the girls began their run in Sandy Hook. Bond, Metzheiser and four other student athletes from the Princeton High School girls cross country team — Evie Bentch, Laure Hartsmanshenn, Lou Mialhe and Raakel Vuojolainen — will run together all the way to Cape May.

After Hurricane Sandy happened, I thought, why not run for a cause?

Bond, Metzheiser and Vuojolainen live in Cranbury, while the other three are residents of Princeton.

The girls will continue their journey throughout the rest of the week, Metzheiser said. They have been soliciting sponsorships from local businesses and on Facebook, and are hoping to raise $5,000.

It was easy to choose to run for Alliance for a Living Ocean, Bond said, because of its commitment to restore beaches washed away by Sandy. Additionally, Alliance’s executive director is Chris Hutch, an assistant track and field coach at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, who was very supportive of the girls’ endeavor.

For Metzheiser, the decision was personal. Her family has a bayside home in Long Beach Island, and it sustained some damage from Hurricane Sandy.

“We had a lot of water, but our whole first floor is garage,” she said. “Some of our neighbors lost everything.”

The girls have been following a running plan of 15 miles a day throughout the 10-day adventure, with each route scheduled from 7 to 9 a.m. in the morning. They have one day of rest scheduled on Thursday, Metzheiser explained. Their parents will take turns following the girls via automobile for safety, and the girls will be staying at three separate homes along the way.

Bond said that running for the cause will be a good bonding experience, and she is looking forward to blasting music, taking on the challenge, and then getting some rest on the beach.

“We are doing this as a team, and I’m really happy we’re doing it like that,” Metzheiser said. “All together.”

To donate to the cause, look online at www.livingocean.org.

Great kids, great cause.

Just another example of how “Jersey Strong” we’ve become in the face of last October’s devastation.