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Semper Five race in Seaside Park won’t be rescheduled after NJ, NY bombings

The FBI’s ongoing investigation into the weekend bombings in New Jersey and New York has led organizers of the Semper Five race in Seaside Park to not to reschedule the event this year — and a second charity 5K planned for this Saturday along the same route to be canceled.

Ocean County Sheriff's patrol vehicle
(Dianne DeOliveira, Townsquare Media NJ)

Semper Five race director Frank Costello said he never considered rescheduling the 5K, following last Saturday’s garbage can explosion during the event’s one-mile fun run.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” he said in light of the events that have since followed.

Authorities have since tied that explosion and others to Ahmad Khan Rahami of Elizabeth. He was apprehended Monday.

“The main thing is everybody is safe, and we were just lucky that there were so many sign-ups,” said Costello. He clarified that it was the long line of registrants that prompted him to delay the 9 a.m. start of the one mile until about 9:22. It wasn’t until the pipe bomb exploded in a garbage can on D Street during the end of the run that an unattended back pack became significant and delayed the 5K start, and ultimately led to its cancelation.

Costello announced that some 3,000 Semper Five registrants will have an opportunity to run this Sunday in New York City instead.

“The real nice thing that has happened, is the (Stephen Siller) Tunnel to Towers has offered us free entry for all our registrants,” Costello said.

The message is included on the Semper Five website, and Costello said individual emails have been sent to those who registered for last Saturday’s event.

“All they have to do basically is just say, ‘I’m coming,'” said Costello. “I think it’s a good thing. It gives them an alternative to get another thing where the military is involved. They’ve got free entry for active military, they’ve got the segment where they have the wounded military go first. I know the West Point Cadets will be there, and of course we’ll be there.”

Costello said plans on participating in Sunday’s race.

“I can do this one because I don’t have any race director responsibilities. I’m really looking forward to going,” he said.

Meanwhile, this Saturday’s planned Race for Respect to benefit the Ocean Cares Foundation has been cancelled. Foundation President John Tweed said the decision was made after a meeting Monday with borough officials and the various law enforcement agencies involved in the bombing investigation.

“They said there’s still a high presence in Seaside Park and the surrounding area for the continued investigation and they would rather not have more things to worry about, and they thought it was in the best interest if things would be able to go along as normal without the big race and the other additional confusions,” Tweed said.

Tweed said more than 20 pre-registrants contacted the Ocean Cares Foundation Monday to express concern about not wanting to participate in the race in light of the bombing investigation.

The Foundation uses funds from The Race for Respect to support programs provided by Ocean Mental Health Services, according to Tweed, which he pointed out have suffered financial cuts from the state and federal governments.

The event attracts about 130 participants, Tweed noted. “Certainly not as big as the Semper Five, but it’s something that brings in a wonderful amount of sponsors and those people who back all of the events that we do, and it’s going to put a little dip in our fundraising,” he said.

Tweed said a final decision on whether the Race For Respect will be rescheduled is pending, but may not be possible with other events already planned and the change in upcoming change in seasons.

He added that those who pre-registered are being contacted and will have the option of getting a refund or putting the entry fee toward a donation.

Contact reporter Dianne DeOliveira at Dianne.DeOliveira@townsquaremedia.com.

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