Girls Want to Run, Too

by Tom Chobot

This article is submitted to coincide with INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY, March 8th, and is intended to address several topics related to female runners including safety, body development, and simply acquiring a healthy and passionate love for running in a way that works for women and girls.  Please bear with me if I seem to jump around as they are all interconnected. 

For decades, I would run through the hills of Pennsylvania, sometimes with a group, but mostly by myself, without a care in the world, the least of which for my personal safety. As a guy with a little bit of meat on him and carrying no valuables, I just figured that the bad guys wouldn’t waste their time on me. If I couldn’t hold my own, I could probably outrun them anyway. For my wife, daughter, and every other female runner that I know (and don’t know), the harsh reality is that they run in a different world than I am used to. Like a gazelle on the African Plains, they must always be vigilant. They choose their routes and schedules wisely, and run with a partner or group whenever they can. Last fall in Tennessee, Eliza Fletcher’s life violently and tragically ended during an early morning run at a time and place that she felt safe. Her story received an abundance of media coverage and sent shock waves through the running community. A few weeks later, we heard nothing. 

Lecturing runners about personal safety is preaching to the choir. We are well aware of the risks and hazards of our passion for both men and women. We constantly discuss the issues among ourselves, and watch each other’s backs. Some might even argue that this is the most important benefit of belonging to a running club.  

There was another story in the news about the same time that barely got noticed. Dina Asher-Smith, a British sprinter, had just lost a major race because of cramps. In her interview, she blamed her performance on “girl stuff” and proclaimed that more research needs to be done on how female specific physiology affects athletic performance. Nearly all of the news outlets simply quoted her as saying she had calf cramps and left it at that. 

Notice the contrast between the two stories. Eliza could have been any one of us. Dina, on the other hand, was dealing with something that only concerns her gender. Hence, her appeal was all but completely ignored. This of course is generally par for the course and adult female runners have learned to limit their discussions to within their own gender or figure things out on their own. To be fair, there is plenty of published material out there (mostly written by females) to educate women on how to work with their physiology as they train and compete.   Guys generally stay out of the conversations. Some because it doesn’t affect them.  Others, out of respect for women’s privacy and dignity, and are just trying to be gentlemen. Most because society has programed us not to talk about that stuff, so we, including many coaches–both male and female–avoid the subject like the plague.  

Female (and male for that matter) runners who are beyond the college years seemed to have adjusted or at least accepted the fact that things probably won’t change any time soon. It’s a whole different ball game with regard to adolescent and teen girls, and college-age women on multiple levels (those who are still going through developmental stages). There are many physiological, psychological, emotional, biological, metabolical (you name it) differences between females who are older than their lower twenties and those who are younger. The most critical is bone development, as it tends to end in one’s early twenties. What they have by this time is what they get. If adequate and healthy development has not occurred by then, the door is open to a wealth of bone issues in mid-life and beyond including osteoporosis or other variations. Bringing it closer to home, I wonder how many women within our own club have lost interest in running because of aches and pains they have accepted as part of the aging process, when in reality, it was because of how they trained during their developmental years. 

Taking it a step further, as girls go through their teens, bone development, female physiology, and diet are more closely related and interconnected. So, for example, a 15-year-old girl (who is already fit) is told by someone (friend, parent, coach) that if she loses a few pounds, she could be faster. She attempts to do so on her own. She ultimately becomes undernourished and under-fueled. This leads to physiological dysfunction, which leads to less-than-ideal bone development at the most critical time in her life (the Female Athlete Triad or RED-S). It’s much more complicated than that, but you get the idea.

Bottom line, training and coaching strategy become a balancing act between short term versus long term objectives. Sure, we can make them faster for awhile, and the temptation is always there, but at what cost? To be fair, most coaches work very hard at finding that balance, but they can’t always control the societal and cultural pressures that come with the “win-at-all-costs” mentality we are surrounded by. On top of all that, think about the 16-year-old girl who is being considered for a full-ride scholarship at the college of her dreams (one that her family couldn’t possibly afford) …IF…she performs at a certain level. These are not highly paid professional athletes. These are children in the middle of their most critical phase of growth and development. How easily we forget that when money becomes part of the equation. 

I learned all this through trial by fire when I took a position as the assistant coach of our school’s girls cross country team 16 years ago. Years later, I eventually became the head coach after spending a few years with the junior high team as well. The thought of coaching young people became a goal once we became empty nesters. My feeling was that when you invest a lifetime into your passion, whatever it is, what good is it if you don’t share it with anyone? I went into it with one goal – share my love for our sport with the next generation. In that short time, I came up with more questions as to how to accomplish this than I had answers – more problems than I could fix. Performance-wise, they did great. Still there are questions I couldn’t answer that continued to keep me awake at night. How can I keep them healthy and uninjured? How can I keep them happy and proud of themselves and see their steady progression? How can I instill my own passion into them and get them to see that running can improve their quality of life for the rest of their life? How can I retain them so they stay with it, and help them navigate through the endless list of obstacles, some gender-specific and some not, as they go through their high school years. All this while getting them to reach their potential, be competitively successful, and satisfy the pressures from parents, peers, school, and society to perform. Many of them were successes. They did well in school and continue to run today. Far too many did not. For the girls with whom I directly worked, that’s on me, at least in my own mind. But these problems aren’t isolated to one coach or one school. They are systemic, far-reaching, and societal. 

Our teams had many successes, and I was fortunate enough to get plenty of positive support from parents, yet the most common complaint I got was that we weren’t pushing the girls hard enough. One mom told me how she was pushed a lot harder as well as encouraged to watch her weight and diet during her high school years, and she didn’t have any problems. Now in her early forties, she still runs recreationally, but no longer races. When I asked her why not, she said, “Oh, my knees are shot”. It was the way she said it, as if it was perfectly normal and expected for female runners to retire from competitive running by age 40, like an NFL player. I don’t need to tell you how many women in our own club have proven how incorrect this notion is.  

Nothing scares me more than the dad who is jumping out of his skin because his 11-year-old daughter just won a race. When he says, “You made me so proud today,” what she hears is, “If you perform well, you’ll get my love and approval.” In 2 years when she is no longer beating the boys she once did, how do you think she is going to feel? Often, young athletes are taken out for ice cream or dinner because they ran well.  Perhaps they should be taken out because they RAN. This is where it starts. And, we need to talk about it. Clubs are the leading edge of the running community. Whatever we do, the rest will follow. 

There was a 7th grade girl on our junior high track team who was showing some real potential. She was already exceptionally thin even for her age, but she loved running and her dad had stars in his eyes. At one meet, she didn’t win the mile and her dad, a big gruff man, was clearly not happy with her. As he was talking to her privately along the fence, it was clearly evident that he was voicing his displeasure over her performance. As everyone was leaving, he made her go out on the track and run the mile again to better her time. She stayed with track and cross country right up to graduation, but hardly ever competed as she was almost continuously injured.  

I have personally spoken with countless women in our club who are thriving now, but didn’t have the high school or college experience that they had dreamed of. Some even stopped running for years. Even some men in our group have done the same thing, telling me that they got burned out in high school and didn’t acquire a true love for running until after they joined the club.  

One lady I know, now in her 50s, has struggled her whole life with bone issues, depression, addiction, you name it. An elite runner and fierce competitor in her prime, she shared with me that at one point, she went 6 years during her late teens and early 20s without her female cycle. She said no one ever told her it was a problem. 

What are the root causes? There are as many theories as there are people, but probably the most general and widely accepted one is that most sports and their respective training techniques are designed around the attributes of males. Girls generally are athletically on the same level as the boys before puberty, but once the onset hits, Mother Nature takes them on very different paths. However, society stubbornly can’t seem to wrap its head around that concept. In other words, sports are still predominately a male’s world, and we keep trying to fit girls into it. It’s not just the coaching; it’s society as a whole. It’s the peer pressure and body shaming. It’s the expectation that girls will progress linearly just like the boys. It’s the assumption that girls will become leaner, stronger, and faster in proportion to their efforts and work. Even the best coaches who truly understand how to work with girls can’t control everything. I’ve seen it all. I’ve heard spectators, peers, even parents talking about a girl who “choked” because of “female issues” as if that were a hinderance or weakness. We avoid discussion about female specific functionality as if it didn’t exist, yet there are still far too many girls who fall victim to Amenorrhea, Female Athlete Triad, RED-S, undiagnosed anorexia, anemia, or other gender-related concerns. Never heard of these terms? My point exactly.  I could go on and on, but all these examples beg the question, “How can we say that we’re doing it right?” 

This brings us to the whole point of this writing. How do we bring young girls into the wonderful world of running and keep them? Is this a club concern? It is if we want to think about the future of it.  

So, what can we do about it? 

Everything starts with education and dialogue. We have plenty of members with young children. We also have members who may choose to coach one day as I did. They need to be mentored BEFORE the girls under their care acquire an interest in running. We need adults who view things from THEIR perspective–their hopes and dreams as well their attributes and limitations–as opposed to lumping both genders together. A program called GIRLS ON THE RUN for elementary-age girls might be on to something. Their emphasis is on building confidence and self-esteem through running while also making running fun. I have often wondered why we can’t continue that philosophy all the way through.  

In the summer before my last year as a coach, I tried something that didn’t necessarily sit well with everyone. We called it “Ladies night out”; a panel discussion where the audience was our team and their moms, our (female) assistant coach, and the (female) athletic trainer. The panel was made up of a nutritionist, a PA with specialization in orthopedics, a licensed counselor, and an accomplished local runner who had her share of struggles in high school. All of them were females and current runners. There were two rules: there would be no males in the room, and all discussions would be directly related to the teen female distance runner. The attendance was modest at best, but those who were there expressed plenty of appreciation and approval. Audrey, our trainer, told me enthusiastically, “Tom, we need more of this!” A few dads expressed some resistance, but most didn’t seem to care or didn’t see any value to it. I don’t know if this practice was continued, but I have great respect for the coach who followed me. He and I thought very much alike.  

To the club’s credit, the membership has been very supportive in many ways, probably more than they realize. In 2009, Phil Lechner (a junior high coach himself), my wife Gwyn, and I approached the club about supporting an annual Berks Junior High all-county cross country championship race. The emphasis would be to give the kids a first-class event with a well-designed course, along with a festive atmosphere and tons of awards. In most dual meets in junior high, the girls and boys run together.  In this specific race, we have separate races for the boys and the girls – giving the girls their own race to compete against their peers.  The club instantly embraced the idea and has supported the race ever since. To this day, the runners and the coaches will tell you that it is the highlight of their season. More importantly, we are giving them a reason to fall in love with running and that’s the whole idea. 

There is much more to be done, but as I said before, everything starts with discussion. Just as in politics, it’s a long slow process to change people’s thinking and attitudes. Before we can fix anything, we must first bring things to light. I’m not asking members to do anything. I’m asking you to think about it and talk about it. The next generation of runners, male and female, are counting on us.  

In the essence of space, I’m not listing my references here, but I will gladly share a mountain of books, articles, and other materials to support my claims with anyone who asks. 

See you on the trail. 

Race Results (February 2023)

Want to see your race results in the next newsletter?

Email your race results to Amy Bird at

Icy 8 hr Trail Race

Lou Donofrio46 miles2nd place overall

4 Chaplins 4 Miler

50:38Rick Showers
51:48Beth Consugar
55:00Bruce Cronrath
56:46Rose Hagy1st Female 70+

Shiver by the River 10k (Race 3 of 4)

35:49Mihai Sanchez1st Overall
41:53Curtis Musser
43:53Matt Brophy
44:14Raine Fussner
45:50Jeff Fussner
46:05Nicholas DiMascio
59:35Tania Salaneck
1:01:21Joanne Beard
1:07:17Ellie Alderfer
1:10:27Scott Scheidt
1:30:56Amy Bird
1:30:59Michael Oetting

Shiver by the River 5k (Race 3 of 4)

20:39Curt Minich
22:59Ray Ingaglio
23:13Carl Kerchner
27:34Tony Agentowicz
27:52Janine Beidler
29:43Andrea Thrush
30:33Larry Drogo
32:56Joann Patti
33:24Yuriko Beaman
36:10Heide Moebius
37:23Diane Gilbert
37:26Julia Hager
37:28Michelle Henry
39:03Rick Showers
39:13Beth Consugar
40:15Colleen Fitzpatrick
41:29Rose Hagy
43:18Bruce Cronrath
43:59Judy Anttonen
50:14Karen Lohin

Green Lane Triple Dam Trail 10k

1:33:50Diane Gilbert

Denver Training Grounds Trail 10k

56:50Jess Gockley1st F Overall

Ugly Mudder 6.55 mi Trail Race

51:38Mihai Sanchez3rd M 30-39
55:42Brian Stoltzfus1st M 60-69
58:27Dale Wiest2nd M 60-69
1:19:53Mark Gillette
1:20:31Fred Foose
1:25:46Shawn Weller
1:34:51Brian Krantz
1:37:23Julia Hager
1:37:44Joanne Patti
1:44:24Paul Makurath3rd M 70+
1:48:52Scott Scheidt
2:23:26Amy Bird
2:24:11Michael Oetting

Frozen Knight 5k

21:28Matt Brophy1st M 40-44
26:37Elaine Cook1st F 55-59
29:09Tania Salaneck3rd F 40-44
31:40Mark Mazurkiewicz
33:08Joanne Patti1st F 65-69
34:07Diane Showers2nd F 65-69
40:53Rick Showers3rd M 65-69
41:03Bruce Cronrath
42:42Rose Hagy2nd F 75+

Final Shiver on Sunday, March 12

Thank you to the 146 5k runners, 68 10k runners, and the many volunteers who helped us have another successful Shiver by the River on February 12th. Congratulations to the top M/F 5k runners–Aiden Konetsky (17:28) and Kahlin Giresh (19:36); and the top 10k M/F runners–Mihai Sanchez (35:49) and Mikaela Smith (40:47).  Thank you to ALL runners and volunteers who continue to support us!!!!!!

New for February, we had someone “sweep” – our esteemed President Michelle. We hope to continue this each race, so volunteers can continue to direct and cheer on the runners, without wondering if the last runner has passed.    

Shiver #4 will be held March 12th.   Take note – this is the beginning of Daylight Saving Time! Get to bed early the night before!  

As always, we need more volunteers for this race. Specifically, we need 3 or 4 people willing to take results off of the board, so that the race directors can calculate results as soon as possible.  We also need the usual help with parking, registration, on the road, at the finish line, clean up, water stop, and within the house serving soup. Anyone helping with registration should arrive at Jim Dietrich Park between 8:15 & 8:30; anyone helping during the race, should arrive by 9:30; either way, look for one of the race directors and we can find something for you to do.  However, for as much as we need volunteers, we would really like to see more Pacers RUN the race!!!!   

The awards ceremony will be held immediately after the 4th race, at the Temple Fire Company, 4963 Kutztown Rd, which is about 3 miles from Jim Dietrich Park. This is the same location as the last couple of years. We are looking for more door prizes. If anyone can donate personally, or secure a door prize, please bring it to the 4th race or the March Pacer meeting. Donations can be given directly to any of the race directors or dropped off at the front table where we are selling old swag, etc. To be eligible to win a door prize, simply complete the survey at the awards banquet. A cold buffet, including a hot vegetarian item, will be served starting around 11:00, followed by door prizes and then the awards. Due to the costs associated with the party, we will follow the guidelines we established a few years ago.   

The party is FREE to everyone who has either:

  1. Finished 3 or more races in this year’s series – please bring your race number from the 4th race to the party; it will be your ticket for free entry.  We will place an additional label on the back of your number which will indicate your eligibility.  
  2. Assisted with any of the races.
  3. Paid for the series.  

We will be charging all others (including Pacers who do not fall into one of the above categories) a $13 fee to help cover some of our costs.

Remember, to help us maintain accurate results, DO NOT COMPLETE ANOTHER REGISTRATION FORM if you already ran this year. If you paid for the series, registration is in the front room of the house.  If you are paying race by race, we have a number for you at the “single race registration” table in the 2nd room.  If you have not previously registered for the 2022-2023 series, registration is at a different table, also in the 2nd room.  

Thanks for all the support we have received! We hope to see many of you at the Shiver, either running or volunteering!!!!!

Sue, Georgine & Tiffany

Monthly Membership Meeting: March, 2023

March’s Monthly Membership meeting will be held on Thursday, March 9th, at Mohnton Fire Company Social Quarters, 100 E Summit St., Mohnton, PA 19540.  The meeting is upstairs. Enter the front door and go up the stairs to your left. There is no need to ring the buzzer for entry. 

Click HERE to see the location on Google Maps.

Food and drink at 6:30pm | Meeting starts at 7:00pm. All members are welcomed.

* Members are responsible for purchasing their own beverages. Please bring cash.

** Please remember to RSVP by Monday (the week of the meeting) if you plan on coming so we can have an accurate headcount for food & seating. 

RSVP can sent by selecting your correct response on the Facebook event page or via email to

Minutes from the General Meeting (February ’23)

General Meeting Minutes

Date: February 9, 2023

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Location: Mohnton Fire Company

Treasury Report – (Shaun Luther not present) – Michelle passed around copies of the expense report. No questions/concerns raised.


  • Run for the Ages 10K Trail Run (Sunday, June 25, 2023) – Blair Hogg – Swag this year is a pair of commemorative socks. Run, volunteer, or both. Registration will go live soon.
  • Shiver by the River 5K and 10K – Sue Jackson – Third event is Sunday, February 12; the fourth, and last, event is on Sunday, March 12. Registration opens at 8:30 and race starts at 10:00. Buffet and award ceremony to follow after the March race. Sue is looking for door prizes. The cost for the buffet for a non-runner, non-volunteer is $13.00. There will be a sweep at the February race – Michelle Henry, accompanying the last runner to let volunteers know they are done. Mike Whalen will get the trailer.

Committee Reports

Social Committee

  • Brad Sinnen – Wallyball went well in February. Next date is Friday, March 17 (also St. Patrick’s Day – he is aware). Watch for the Facebook event posting.
  • Manayunk bike ride proposed. Karen & Brad Sinnen willing to organize, if there is interest. Karen will check with Caroline Hill about the details, since she previously organized the rides.
  • Tiffany – proposing a roller skating activity at Skateaway, if there is interest. Michelle will do some sort of poll to gauge interest & date/time preference. Rental for the rink is $300 with the food service area open; it is $350 if the club elects the bring-your-own-food/beverage option.

Communications Committee – no report

Community Service

  • Wednesday night runs – Matt Brophy isn’t going to be around this summer to lead the WNRs, so he is looking for someone(s) to fill in and assist Steve Vida. FYI – volunteering to lead a run will count as ‘volunteer’ check off on the Passport.
  • Race Mates—May 7, Laney’s run. March 18, IM Able Bash at Alvernia University: The Chariot drivers will be giving demonstrations. If interested in participating, register at the event page online (which is free) and put ‘Pacers’ in the comment box, so you will get VIP access. 

Scholarship Committee: 2/28/23 is the deadline for the application.

Old business – none

New business

  • Start & Finish line inflatable arch project: Mike Whalen presented this to the race directors, and now is presenting to the membership.
    • Would be branded with the Pacer logo
    • Blues Cruise, Grings Mill, & Charlie Horse are self-timed races and could benefit from this, but the arch could be used at any of the races.
    • Deflated, the arch will fit in trailer
    • Weighs about 50 pounds
    • $2500 with 3 year warranty
    • Inflated, it is about 10 feet tall by 15 feet wide, and some questions raised if this might be too wide
  • Matt Brophy – as part of the monthly newsletter, he has started a member profile to briefly highlight a few people every month. Andy Styer and Raine Fussner were profiled in the January newsletter. He is looking for a few people every month, so that new (and existing) club members can get to know each other. If interested in participating, there is a form with a few questions sent with the newsletter.

Pacer Profile: Blair Beard

What are my other interests, hobbies, and passions?


Music – I play clarinet, saxophone, oboe & flute, and I perform in 3 community bands.

(I retired after teaching music for 42 yeas.)


Wood working & gardening


Joanne & I fly hot air balloons. This is Nightstar, one of our two current balloons.

Our chase crew members are the “Star Chasers”.

We participate in festivals up and down the east coast.

I also fly for Lancaster Balloon Rides during the summer months.

How/when did you first start running?

This has happened twice.  I first started running on the track team in jr. high and continued through high school. I ran while in college, but just to stay fit. Then came the first job and running ground to a halt.

Around 2002 my wife, Joanne, decided she was going to start running, and after a year, she started dragging me out. We’ve been running together since then.

What are your most memorable events?

Without a doubt it would have to be the Broad Street Run. The crowd and encouragement stretch all 10 miles.

Thanks for asking,

Blair Beard

Want to introduce yourself to the club in the next newsletter? We’d love to feature YOU in an upcoming Pacer Profile. Click HERE to find out how!

Pacer Long Run @ Middle Creek (March ’23)

This month’s group long run will take place at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area on Sunday, March 5th.

We will meet at the White Oak Picnic Area on Millstone RD (Millstone Trailhead)

The longer option is 13.6 miles with 2700ft of gain:

The shorter option is 10.3 miles with 1600ft of gain:

After the run, some of us will get lunch at:
Pour Man’s Brewing Co
284 S Reading Rd, Ephrata, PA 17522

Let us know if you plan on joining us and coordinate car-pooling via the Facebook Event for this run!

See you Sunday!

Wednesday Night Runs (March ’23)

Our mid-week group runs have at least two different distance options (3-4 miles and 5-6 miles) with an appointed leader for each route. Each run will have its own Facebook “event,” and the routes will be posted a couple days before the run. After each run, those who can will stick around for food, drink, and good conversation, either at a nearby restaurant or a club member’s residence. Come for the run; stay (if you can) for the fellowship. (If you don’t have time to stick around, no worries–just come run with us!)


March 1: Stoudts Ferry Bridge Park — Post-run at Tlacuani

March 8: Brentwood Trailhead on SRT/Thun Trail — Post-run at Mimmo’s

March 15: Antietam High School — Post-run at Klinger’s on Carsonia

March 22: Trout Run, Exeter — Post-run at Liberty Tap Room

March 29: Bartram Trail, Hamburg — Post-run at Copperz

All runs start at 6:15 p.m.

This is the end of the March 2023 newsletter. You can read older posts by continuing to scroll down.

Wednesday Night Runs (February ’23 Locations)

Our mid-week group runs have at least two different distance options (3-4 miles and 5-6 miles) with an appointed leader for each route. Each run will have its own Facebook “event,” and the routes will be posted a couple days before the run. After each run, those who can will stick around for food, drink, and good conversation, either at a nearby restaurant or a club member’s residence. Come for the run; stay (if you can) for the fellowship. (If you don’t have time to stick around, no worries–just come run with us!)


February 1: Cumru Elementary School — Post-run at Mangia!

February 8: Wyomissing Quarry Soccer Fields — Post-run at Paolo’s

February 15: Exeter Township Senior High School — Post-run at Liberty Taproom

February 22: Reading Muhlenberg Career and Technology Center — Post-run at Shirley’s

All runs start at 6:15 p.m.