RED BANK, NJ –  The 2012 George Sheehan Classic is excited to announce the new 5K (3.1 mile) distance as its main event.  The race committee has had a great deal of community feedback over the years that running five miles was just a little too long for the everyday runner, and that sometimes the heat in June can be a factor.  In response, it was decided that the 5K distance is the right match for the entire family to participate, either by racing or walking the scenic course.

The Sheehan Classic is set for 8:30 a.m. Saturday, June 16, 2012.  More than 2,500 runners are expected to participate in what is known as one of the Jersey Shore’s most popular road races. Registration for the event opens on March 15, and organizers expect the 5K race to start filling up quickly; the race is limited to 3,000 entrants.

The George Sheehan Classic began in 1981 as the Asbury Park 10K Classic and quickly became one of the major road running events on the national calendar.  The race moved to Red Bank in 1994 and was renamed to honor the memory of Dr. George Sheehan, the prominent author, philosopher and area physician.  “The Doc” has been called the “father of the running boom” in the United States.

As part of the Sheehan Classic, the Friday evening Kids' Classic is a series of children's races of various distances, from toddler to age 13. Kids will be treated to face painting, characters and ice treats. Free entertainment accompanies the kids' races at the Runner's Expo Village, on the banks of the Navesink. On Saturday morning, event finishers enjoy a famous picnic in the park, followed by a post-race block party with live music.

The George Sheehan Classic was named one of the Top 100 Road Races by Runner’s World magazine, and the Best Memorial Race in New Jersey by the New York Times. Nearly $2,500 in prize money will be distributed in the 5K run to the Top Five overall male and female finishers, top New Jersey finishers and age-category winners. The list of previous winners actually reads like a Who’s Who of road racing: Americans Bill Rodgers and Keith Brantley, Norway’s Grete Waitz, Australian Lisa Ondeiki, Zimbabwe’s Phillimon Hanneck, Kenya’s  Veronica Kanga and Russian Olga Markova.

Lead sponsors of last year's Sheehan Classic were Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, CBRichardEllis, and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.  Other sponsors included: Chapdelaine & Co., Riverview Medical Center, Howley Financial Group,  Zais Group, Brannigan's & Miller Lite, Jersey Mike's, Wakefern, Whole Foods, and Front Street Trattoria. Sponsorship opportunities are still available for this year's Classic.

The 2012 George Sheehan Classic will continue to support worthy local non-profit charities and organizations in need.  Nearly $7,000 was contributed to charity in 2011 in a tough economy to Parker Family Health Clinic; Jersey Shore Running Club; Lunch Break; Jersey Coast Chapter of American Red Cross; Wayside Church on The Hill; MONOC Paramedic Service; Navesink Hook & Ladder;  First Aid Squads of Red Bank, Fair Haven, Little Silver, Fairview, Tinton Falls, Navesink, and Shrewsbury; High School track teams of Red Bank Catholic, Middletown South, and Red Bank Regional; Monmouth University Track Team; Neptune Soccer; St. Peter's Church and BSA Scout Pack #71.

The race is part of the Jersey Shore Golden Grand Prix, a series of races that offers prize money to overall and age category winners. The five 2012 events are: Spring Lake 5, George Sheehan Classic, Belmar 5, Asbury Park 5K & Pier House 5K.  Visit www.jsgrandprix.com for series information.

For Sheehan Classic information and registration, call the event hotline 732.571-2162 or check the website, www.sheehanclassic.org.