5 Best Runs Down the Shore (with Maps!)

We asked Jersey Shore runners for their favorite spots. Here are their best picks, from scenic jaunts to hidden jewels.

Confession: I may be a Philly native, but I am not your average sit-in-traffic-for-two (or more)-hours-every-summer-Friday-night-and-Sunday afternoon-weekend shore-goer. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of weekends I’ve spent down the shore in my life (okay, maybe two).

So when I found out I would be spending a week this summer in Ocean City, where Manco & Manco’s pizza, Uncle Bill’s pancakes and boardwalk fudge will be calling my name, I knew I had to find some good places to run. I decided to call on some Jersey-shore-based running gurus to find out the best routes to check out. Here are their picks:

The Ocean-Meets-Bay Run
The Expert: Mary Ponzio, South Jersey native who now resides in Philly, runner since ’07, eight-time marathoner (including three Bostons!), and blogger at Sisters Running the Kitchen.
The Place: Margate
The Run: Margate to Longport and back

Begin on any block in Margate and run along the bike path on Atlantic Avenue towards the end of Longport. Once you get into Longport and the road begins to get narrow, you are running along the bay and have views of the inlet and the Ocean City Bridge. Shortly after, you will reach the end of Longport right where the ocean meets the bay. The waves crash up on the jetties and the views are beautiful. Turn around and head back the way you came. Depending on where you begin, the distance can vary.

Go longer: On your way back towards Margate keep going into Ventnor and run up on to the boardwalk. The boardwalk runs for about five miles to the end of Atlantic City.

The Unparalleled Views Run
The Expert: Roger Lillo, 10-year triathlete, founder of the former Wildwood Triathlon Club (now South Jersey Triathlon Club), Wildwood police officer and member of Cape May County SWAT team.
The Place: North Wildwood
The Run: North Wildwood Seawall

The seawall, built in 2005 to protect the city from coastal storms, quickly became an attraction for runners and walkers when a 6,000-foot stretch from Second and JFK avenues to Anglesea was capped with concrete. Literally right on the water, the three-mile out-and-back trail boasts picture-perfect views of Hereford Inlet and is a great addition to any Wildwood run. Accessible from the Lifeguard house on 15th Street and Ocean Avenue.

The Under-the-Radar Run
The Expert: Stephen Del Monte, race director, DelMoSports, Inc.
The Place: Cape May-Lewes Ferry in Lower Township
The Run: Shore Drive four-mile loop

Leaving from Douglass park at the base of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, runners head onto Shore Drive for an incredible elevated view of the Delaware Bay.

Go longer: If you want more mileage, simply turn onto Lincoln Boulevard (Ferry Road to locals) and head out Jonathan Hoffman Road for a beautiful tree-lined run that passes through parks and vineyards and over the Cape May Canal. This extended loop is 11 miles.

The Peaceful Run
The Expert: Del Monte
The Place: Any beach along the Southern Jersey Shore
The Run: Sunrise at low tide

It’s Del Monte’s favorite time of day to run. “Generally, the beach is empty, there’s plenty of hard-packed sand to run on, and everything is at its best,” he says. “Winds are usually calm, gulls and and piping plovers line the water’s edge, and there is nothing that will interrupt you from 45 minutes of peaceful, easy running.”

The Easy-on-Your Knees Run
The Expert: Janet Schiltz, co-owner of the Sneaker Shop in Ocean City.
The Place: Ocean City
The Run: Ocean City boardwalk

Ocean City’s boards are five miles round trip. The wood is softer than concrete and easier on the knees. The ocean breeze keeps things cool. Add in the nice distraction of people-watching, and you’ll be finished before you know it. Just be sure to stay aware of your surroundings to avoid any pizza-in-the-face collisions with tourists.

>> What’s your favorite run down the Shore? Share in the comments!