A Green Light for Wednesday Night

Now that Berks County has been designated “green” according to Governor Wolf’s phased re-opening of Pennsylvania, the Pagoda Pacers will resume our weekly Wednesday Night Runs starting on Wednesday, July 1st. All runs will begin at 6:15pm, and upcoming July locations are listed below.

Due to the ongoing public health crisis, however, the gatherings will be conducted somewhat differently in order to ensure adherence with the recommendations put forth by public health officials. All runners MUST SIGN A WAIVER (see below) before each run. (We recommend bringing your own pen.) Also, there will be no official, club-sponsored post-run gatherings. Please make sure to read the full list of guidelines below before attending any of our group runs.


–July 1st: Blue Marsh–Old Church Rd Parking Lot. Trail run! Run the full 7-mile ski loop, or do an out-and-back of whatever distance you feel like.

–July 8th: Exeter High School–road run with trail options on nearby Mt Neversink.

–July 15th: Jim Dietrich Park–options for both road running (Shiver course) and trail running along the river. One of our flatter locations, for those who don’t love hills.

–July 22nd: Wyomissing High School–road run with trail options throughout the scenic Wyomissing Park System.

–July 29th: Mt Penn Fire Tower–trail and road options atop Mt Penn–bring your climbing legs!


As an organization focused on the support of healthy lifestyles, we believe by following the guidelines of the CDC and local authorities there is an opportunity to safely resume the Pagoda Pacer Athletic Club organized runs. We ask first and foremost that you respect the health and safety of your fellow runners and adhere to the following code of conduct as provided by the RRCA.

  • If you are feeling sick or ill, or have a fever, or have been in contact with someone unrecovered from COVID-19 within the past 14 day, please DO NOT participate in a group run.
  • If you are a member of a high-risk group for COVID-19 complications, please consult your physician before participating in a group run.
  • Please maintain social distance guidelines before, during, and after the group run. Keep a minimum of 6 feet of separation between yourself and others. 
  • Please do not engage in physical contact (hand shakes, high fives, hugs, etc.) before, during, or after the group run. 
  • Please do not take group selfies or pictures that encourage people to stand close to one another.
  • Please do not spit or discharge mucus from your nose around others. Consider bringing tissues or a small towel or a handkerchief if you will need to get rid of mucus or spit during your run. Move away from others when doing so.
  • Please do not share personal items such as water bottles, gels, towels, etc.
  • Please bring a facemask to wear if/when social distancing is not possible or if you need to enter a building to use a restroom or for any other reason.
  • Please bring enough water to meet your own hydration needs.
  • If, within 14 days of attending a group run, you should test positive for COVID-19, please notify the Pagoda Pacers Athletic Club as soon as possible by email (president@pagodapacers.com). Do not participate in any group gathering until you have recovered from COVID-19 and have received approval from your doctor. Club leaders will maintain your confidentiality, but all other runners who may have been in proximity to you will not be allowed to participate in another group run for at least 14 days. 
  • Please familiarize yourself with the CDC’s guidelines for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html) before participating in any group runs.


All runners will be required to sign in before each group run. This is necessary both to meet the requirements of the club’s insurance through the RRCA and to facilitate contact tracing, should the need arise. By signing in, you will also be signing the waiver below. Please bring your own pen.


By signing below, I agree that I know that running in organized group runs associated with the Pagoda Pacers Athletic Club is a potentially hazardous activity, which could cause injury or death. I will not participate in any club group run unless I am medically able, and by my signature, I certify that I am medically able to perform all activities associated with this club run and am in good health. I agree to abide by all rules established by the club, including the specific COVID-related guidelines for Wednesday Night Runs. I attest that I have read these guidelines and agree to abide by them. I assume all risks associated with participating in all club activities, which may include but are not limited to: falls, physical contact with other participants/members including the potential contraction of a communicable disease resulting from contact with other participants/members. I assume all risks including: the effects of the weather; high heat and/or humidity; freezing cold temperatures; traffic and the conditions of the road including surrounding terrain. I further agree to abide by the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendations for the prevention of the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and other communicable diseases, and I attest to having read the CDC’s guidance at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html. I assume all such risks being known, appreciated, and accepted by me. 

Having read this waiver and knowing these facts, I, for myself and anyone entitled to act on my behalf, waive and release the Pagoda Pacers Athletic Club and the Road Runners Club of America, all club sponsors (including Shillington Eye Associates), their representatives and successors from all claims or liabilities of any kind arising out of my participation in the club’s activities, even though that liability may arise out of negligence or carelessness on the part of the persons or organizations named in this waiver. In addition, I acknowledge the contagious nature of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases and voluntarily assume the risk that I may be exposed to or infected by COVID-19 and/or other communicable diseases by participating in any activities associated with the club. I acknowledge that such exposure or infection may result in personal injury, illness, permanent disability, and/or death. I understand that the risk of becoming exposed to or infected by COVID-19 in connection with my participation in any club activities, and personally assume this risk.

I grant permission to all of the foregoing to use my photographs, motion pictures, recordings or any other record of the club for any legitimate purposes.

Update on Club Races

Race Directors Dan Govern and Mike Yoder announced on June 19th that the Blues Cruise 50k will not take place this year due to a variety of issues and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and construction at Blue Marsh. While this was, of course, sad news to hear, we hope everyone understands that it was unavoidable, and we hope that enthusiasm for the Blues Cruise will be fully revived when the race returns in October 2021.

The Board of Directors met on June 22nd (via Zoom) to discuss the remaining club races for 2020 (Oley Valley Country Classic, Shiver by the River series, Kris Kringle 5-Miler). While we are hopeful that, if Berks County remains in “green,” these races may happen, there is still a tremendous amount of uncertainty about what the future may bring, what modifications would be required to hold a race, and whether or not it will make practical sense to do so. (Even if the infection rate in Berks remains low, holding a race under current guidelines will present significant challenges.)

We expect race directors to make a final decision about each remaining race–in consultation with the Board of Directors–at least two months prior to the scheduled date for each race. Be sure to follow each race’s Facebook page for the latest updates and announcements.

Going Vertical

by Jim Blandford

On May 25th, I started an adventure known as the Limitless Vertical 7-day Challenge. The idea of the challenge is to get as much vert as one can for 7 days. This virtual challenge was put on by Aravaipa Running in Phoenix, Arizona. There were three divisions: (1) 100% Trail or Outdoors, (2) Indoors (i.e. treadmill, stairs, etc.), and (3) a combination of the two. I was entered in the 100% Trail or Outdoors division. The event was a perfect fit for me, as I had the full 7 days off from work, support at home and from friends, and plenty of hill training leading up to it. Most days I was going up and down the hills in Port Clinton for around 10 hours. Throughout the week, many friends stopped by to go up/down with me or to bring some awesome food and drinks. By the end of the event, I reached 100,305 feet of vertical gain over 192.3 miles. Over 6 days, 7 hours, 54 minutes I had spent 64 hours and 33 minutes on my feet going up and down those hills. It was a great experience for learning how the body feels day after day and learning how to control my pace. Most of the time I hiked up the hills and ran down. I am fortunate to be able to train with many runners from the Pacers and others in the hilly Hamburg/Port Clinton area. I cannot wait for the next adventure. 

Watch Jim’s interview with race director Julie Neisch:

Pat Heine’s video gives us some further insight into Jim’s approach:

Take a virtual tour of the Appalachian Trail as you hike with Jim up the mountain in Port Clinton:

2020 Scholarship Winners

by Beth Kohl

The Pacers are proud to announce and congratulate the club’s 2020 Scholarship award winners.

The two Berks County cross country runners who have each been awarded a $750 scholarship are Alexa Junikiewicz, a graduate of Berks Catholic High School, and Griffin Schlegel, a graduate of Twin Valley High School.

Alexa Junikiewicz
Griffin Schlegel

The two children of Pacer members who have each been awarded a $750 scholarship are Robbie Unruh, a graduate of Exeter Township High School, and Sebastian Weiss, a graduate of Wilson High School.

Robbie Unruh
Sebastian Weiss

The club received applications from many very strong and deserving students, and wishes all who applied the best in their future endeavors.

Letter from the President (June 2020)

by Steve Maguire

I’m not much of a complainer, but it is time for a gripe. This morning I turn on the PC and the pages are blank. What’s that about? Yes, there were a few beers last night, stories with friends, and the World problems had all been solved. I figured by now the newsletter would be done. Where’s the content, the poignant ramblings of our time? All I got is simply writer’s block.     

Yeah, yeah, happens to us all. You’re confused, doesn’t seem like much content, underwhelmed, can’t find it? So what’s the gripe? Well, recently I learned a little factoid that was shared on Berks County Open Mic. (FB Page well recommended). Seems a few years back, on a May night, a young 22-year-old found the record button and captured the riff of one of the great rock songs of the era. Some of you have probably slept with or at least dreamt about new running gear, so having a cassette recorder on your night stand and a guitar in your bed probably doesn’t appear that odd. Personally I know I’ve woken with the running shoes on, but that was miles into a race with thoughts of “this is a bad dream.” 

Just a few chords and a mumble was all that was captured on that tape. A moment of time frozen by tiny particles of iron suspended on plastic with the hope this alignment of effort held value in the future. Today we have software in the clouds capturing our movement such as Strava and Garmin to look back and memorialize those efforts. Similarly people have drawn with their routes, and participated in virtual challenges to share and support various goals. Big shout out to Brock Kline and Laura Yoder for some epic mileage challenges. Hope they added content to the newsletter. 

The club to date has avoided creating this new rage of “Virtual Races,” as we respect the guidelines of the RRCA to not add competing events to existing dates or where the activity level on routes would be increased. We, however, have stepped into the realm of virtual meetings first with the Race Directors, and then on May 14th with the entire club as a General Meeting. Thanks again to Karen Rule and Mike Whalen for their assistance. No segue, but I just opened a new package of coffee and will pause to enjoy the smell. Thanks, Jane. 

Around the time you’ll be reading this, our area will be moving into the “Yellow” phase. So what does that mean? Basically, my take is we’re all in a trial to see what sharing respect and not germs could look like. Wash your hands, pay attention to your circle, and if you’re sick–communicate and contain. Let’s get to the other side. If, as a society, we prove that adapted personal habits can influence the spread of the virus, we will move forward. 

As far as club races go, we’re holding out hope for Blues Cruise which we think, for various reasons, may be one of the best formats to work around the constraints prior events to date have fallen victim to. Race Directors Dan Govern and Mike Yoder have been working with the Army Corps and are proceeding cautiously with preparation for the Pacers’ next potential race.

There was concern at one point as the large spring races postponed to the fall would negatively influence participation in some of the Pacer events. With the Berlin and now Boston Marathon cancelling their fall dates, you can expect more of these big events will topple. For Boston that’s $200 million lost to their economy, and for the associated charities, it is something like $35 million. There is no crystal ball to the economic impact of the quarantine; however, the club continues to maintain a frugal approach to weather these rainy days. We intend, once stability returns, that as a club, the necessary discussions can occur as to how to assist the businesses and charities that have supported the Pacers in the past. For now, as individuals, we can think local, support local, and spend local. For instance, on June 5th, it looks like Fleet Feet and hopefully Chester County Running Store will open for more than curbside pickup.

If you’ve been on the trails, around the lake, or as many have shared on the Pacer Discussion Group FB page, Mother Nature is in her glory. If you look closely around the Justa Road area, even the gnomes are sprouting. (A shout out to the creative women of the club that may have planted them.) On the page recently you may also have seen a few Pink Flamingos. Seems Polly Corvaia and Karen Rule have a great sense of humor and have started a game of tag.   Possibly migration patterns may have started on the lawns of Barb Raifsnider and Mary and Patrick Boggs. These gestures bring smiles and encouragement to athletes like a high five or ring of a bell. 

Speaking of cow bells, there hasn’t been a race since the Shiver to annoy the neighbors, but the big one came out for a car parade which was part of the Wilson High School graduation of Sebastian Weiss, son of the proud parents Stephan and Linda Weiss.  On his way to Temple, Sebastian is one of the recipients of the Pacer Scholarships. It was a moving event as the streets lined en masse, similar to many of the road races to support these kids. They’re far from the finish line, but I’m not. 

So with finding the good things going on, what’s the gripe? Well, you see, some 55 years ago in May, that 22-year-old who has outlived every life expectancy woke the next morning to find he’d recorded 2 minutes of acoustic guitar which birthed “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”. And the rest is history. 

Time to quit typing, got to go, put on my mask, and wash my hands ……. Steve

Minutes from the General Meeting (May 2020)

General Meeting Minutes

Date: 5/14/2020

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Online via Zoom

Treasury Report – Shaun Luther—account is 130% of target. Shaun shared the monthly report with the board of directors, as copies could not be handed out in person at the meeting. He has requested an extension to file taxes—which he does every year. The finances are ok, due to the buildup of the “rainy day” fund. Ongoing expenses for the club have dropped, such as the food at the meetings and no social activity expenses. We have very few ongoing expenses; one is the cost of trailer parking. There was a questions about the expenses of charity contributions that are usually made from profits from the races. The club will wait until more is known about the COVID situation and its impact on club finances. 


  • Charlie Horse Half Marathon—Shaun Luther—Canceled for this year, as previously noted. Only about $100 has been spent. Shaun is trying to get back the music licensing fee. Some registrants chose to convert their fees to contributions to the Special Olympics, but only a few.
  • Run for the Ages 10K—Donna Hey—The race will be canceled for this year. At this time, Nolde is not allowed to have groups at the park. Donna does not want to transition to a virtual race. She only had 10 registrations, so far, and had spent about $175 for the application printing.  Donna will discuss with Ron what he wants to do. No swag purchased, or Nolde pottery prizes done. We have the airline tickets, though, and still need to decide how to handle this. Donna will discuss further with Ted Andrus.
  • Grings Mill 10K and 5K Run—Caroline Hill—Everything at Grings Mill is canceled for the rest of the year, so the race will not be run this year. They are refunding the registration fee. The only expense is for the applications that have been purchased, and the music license fee, so she will request a refund.
  • Blues Cruise 50K—Dan Govern—still planning to hold this event on October 4, 2020, and has permits from Blue Marsh. Dan will discuss in the next few weeks with the Corps about whether or not the race can occur. Mike will reach out to Blue Marsh. No money has been expended, but there is still time. Not looking good at this point, but initial planning will proceed according to the usual timeline. Dan may consider a lower cap number for registrations. Or run it as a fat-ass style for a much lower number of registrants.
  • Oley Valley Country Classic 10 mile and 5K—Len Burton—No date established at this time. Still looking to collaborate with the Motorcycle Club to host, instead of the Oley Valley Youth League. The course would be the same, with a different start/end point—perhaps with some alterations to the swag, etc. No expenses accrued at this point. Could be a no-frills event.
  • Kris Kringle 5 miler—Polly Corvaia—still planning to hold in December. About $500 spent for gnomes that have been purchased. Hoodies still not ordered. Still have a few months to really decide on this. Permits start in September.
  • Shiver by the River Series—Sue Jackson—not much has been done, no money down yet. Temple Fire Company is reserved though for the final date in March 2021.
  • Jr. High Cross Country Fall Invitational—Tom Chobot—very easy to do. Whether or not it will be held is still up in the air.

Committee Reports

Social Committee:

  • Wine and Cheese Party at the Pagoda is canceled—Dee tried to brainstorm some sort of social event. Jane mentioned people still getting dressed up and taking a picture. 
  • Still trying to maintain a connection. Ideas were a scavenger hunt, “letterboxing,” posting a flamingo(s) in someone’s yard to have sort of a game of tag. Look for more information on the Facebook page.

Communications Committee—Jon Durand—has kind of fallen off, but would like to do something. 

Community Service—no report

Charity Committee

  • Scholarship committee: Reviewed applications remotely this year. 16 applicants. Committee has made selections and announced the four recipients.

Membership committee: Dee will be added to the e-blast access on Run Signup, and Jon Durand will help to get this started for membership updates.

Old business: No updates

New business:

  • Jon Durand may try another WaWa challenge. When will be a good time to do this? He has support from Wawa when we are ready.
  • The club will watch for races in the surrounding states to see how those are opening up. The liability of the club is a consideration when deciding to restart events.
  • Karen Rule–Reading Radsport is having a virtual “uphill’ race—bike and running—to support charities. Shillington Eye Associates is matching funds. See their web site for further details.

3 Days Not at the Fair

by Tania Salaneck

2020 was going to be my year to accomplish some of my bigger running goals.  I started planning my race schedule a year ahead, since I was turning 40 and I wanted to mark the occasion with a bang. Two years ago, I did my first 24 hour race at “3 Days at the Fair,” and it was a challenge! I decided that my big race for the year was going to be the 48 hour event at “3 Days at the Fair 2020.”

The year hasn’t gone quite as planned, though, and “3 Days” was postponed until October.  A few weeks after the race director made the announcement, they decided to offer a virtual option in addition, called “3 Days Not at the Fair.”  I’d put the training in, and I was already doing some additional high mileage for the virtual race across Tennessee.  It seemed like a great way to continue to run and train for a goal while in-person racing wasn’t an option.

The race could be done at any point in May, starting at any time. Because of my work and kid schedules, I decided to start on Memorial Day.  In an effort to be true to the format of 3 Days, which is a one-mile loop through the Sussex County Fairgrounds, Brock and I decided on a 1.2 mile loop on the SRT in Leesport.  Herbine’s Lock provided an excellent place for our start/finish/aid station. The course itself was about 1/2 gravel and 1/2 road, with the road being in the sun, and the gravel in the shade.  It was also flat, which is rare around Leesport.

Herbine’s Lock on the SRT

My friend Steph was going to run with me and see how many miles she could hit.  Before this week, her longest distance was a marathon. We’d planned to start at 9am, but we were ready and impatient, so 8:47 it was!

Steph and I just before starting

The miles flew by at first, and Brock finished his 24 hour attempt, having started on Sunday.  We staggered our runs to allow us to crew for one another and cook grilled cheeses.  We were fortunate to have friends and family support us throughout: stopping by to share some miles, cheer us on, or send a text of encouragement.  Brock continued to run miles with us AFTER he finished his race, and continued to keep us going well into the night.

My plan had been to run as far as we could the first day and take some of the pressure off for the second; we would sleep each night instead of pushing through.  52 miles on Monday set us up nicely for Tuesday.  Steph now had a PR for 50k, 40 miles, and 50 miles! I felt pretty good that I could hit the 100 that had previously eluded me.

Tuesday morning, Steph needed some extra time off her feet.  Laura Yoder was just finishing her 72 hour event, and had already shared miles with us earlier in the weekend.  She came back to the course to share some more miles and finish her amazing feat! As an added bonus, Mike got there just as she was finishing to do five more miles.  In the early hours before anyone joined us, Laura and I got to see a newly-born fawn hiding in the grass for a few laps before her mother came to collect her.

Brock brought me some lunch and I took a decent break in the shade.  I was at 71 miles. My mom timed a visit to the lock perfectly and we got to chat for a bit. The sun was starting to really take a toll on me.  I decided when I started again that I would do out-and-backs in the shade as long as the sun was so brutal.  That helped immensely. I continued through the afternoon, and I took a longer break at 85 miles, which was my previous distance PR.

As a I was resting, Steph re-appeared and wanted to do more miles! Brock was also going to run again, this time to pace his daughter, Vanessa, for her virtual GOTR 5k.  Now it was a party, and exactly the energy I needed so far into the race.  After they finished, Steph and I continued on and relished the respite of the setting sun, and Brock joined us for the final few miles.  My goal was 101, which is when you get a coin at 3DATF.  Right around midnight, we stopped for the night, Steph with 68, and me with 101.3.  I wasn’t going to run another loop to change it at that point, and I knew I had a few more hours in the morning before our race officially ended.

I was pretty sore when I woke up, but moving helped.  I needed a break from the trail though.  I was tired of digging gravel out of my shoes, so I decided to finish the last hours of my race on the one-mile loop in my development, and it was slow! Meanwhile, Brock realized that he was almost at 100 miles over 72 hours from all the additional loops he’d done with us.  He was running the trail to get a 72 hour finish now!

So Wednesday morning, when everything was done, Steph had 68 miles in 48 hours, I had 105 miles in 48 hours, and Brock had 101 (enough for the coin!) in 72 hours.

I’m so hopeful that we’ll be able to race “3 Days” in person in October.  I doubted myself for a long time about being able to do 100 miles, but having succeeded, I have to see if I can push further.  Just before I headed out for my last miles on Wednesday morning, someone posted a quote that they keep on their running wall, attributed to Lazarus Lake of Barkley’s fame (and also the virtual Tennessee race I’m in the midst of):

I’ve failed at my goals before, but this time I didn’t.  It made the victory all that much sweeter.  I’ll fail again, but beyond that will come more success.  Either way, I’m just going to keep reaching for new goals.