By Warren RappleyeaStaff Writer By Warren Rappleyea Staff Writer Defending champion Simon Wangui of Kenya will head up a field of about 3,000 runners in the five-mile George Sheehan Classic on Aug. 9 in Red Bank. The annual event, which traditionally kicks off to the sounds of strains of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” takes participants through downtown Red Bank and through the neighboring towns of Little Silver and Fair Haven. Race Director Phil Hinck stopped short of promising good weather, though he did note that the race weekend should provide plenty of fun for entrants and their families. The Sheehan Classic is the second largest race in New Jersey, second only to the Spring Lake 5, also helmed by Hinck, a fixture on the Shore running scene. Besides Wangui, other top runners include Nephat Kinyanjui, a member of the Kenyan Junior National Team; Moses Mwangi; and Catherine N’Dereba, a two-time Boston Marathon champion. In addition to the main event, another 500-600 people will participate in a variety of other events that begin on Friday evening with the Kids Classic, a variety of short races for children ages 4-13, said Race Director Bob Rosa. In addition to the five-miler, the weekend includes a wheelchair race and a two-mile health and fitness walk. The course for the five-miler remains the same for the seventh straight year. It will start and end on Broad Street after twisting through Fair Haven and Little Silver. It also includes an out-and-back aspect along Harding Road. Just past the four-mile mark, runners face the challenge of Tower Hill, after which it’s downhill and relatively flat to the finish. Runners will again be timed by computer chip, Hinck noted. All runners will be issued a chip that they must wear on their ankle. This will enable each runner to get an accurate time based on the time they actually cross the start and finish lines. Runners must pick up their chips at the race registration tent in Marine Park beginning on Friday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. or on race morning beginning at 6:30 a.m. Chips will be collected at the finish line. Race organizers will again host a Friday night pasta dinner, which begins at 5:30 p.m. in Marine Park. Tickets are $8 for adults, and children participating in the Kids Classic are admitted free of charge. The Kids Classic will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday. A five-mile wheelchair race will get under way at 8:25 a.m. on Saturday, and the five-mile Classic will begin at 8:30 a.m., with a Health and Fitness Walk following at 8:40 a.m. Other activities include a Runner’s Expo in Marine Park from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. A panel of area athletes will speak and answer questions beginning Friday night at 7:15 p.m. Participants include New York Power soccer player Christie Pearce of Point Pleasant; Harry Nolan, a nationally ranked masters runner from Middletown; and Amanda and Katy Trotter, who both starred at Red Bank Regional High School in soccer, cross country and track. Entries for the five-miler are $25 ($23 before July 31); race day entries are $30. The entry fees include a T-shirt, and all finishers will receive medals. Entries for the fitness walk and Kids Classic are $16. Proceeds from the race will be used to support the Parker Family Health Clinic, which provides walk-in health care coverage for area residents who do not have health insurance. For more information, call (732) 988-7725 or register online at www.sheehanclassic.org. Race results will be posted on the site after 6 p.m. on Saturday. The site also includes a schedule and description of the events, race information, detailed course maps, and hotel information and directions. Registrations are also being accepted at The Running Store in Shrewsbury and Miles Ahead Sports in Manasquan through Aug. 7.