Brophy’s Bucket

Without races or Wednesday Night Runs or my normal commute to Downingtown, I decided to check a few things off my “to do” list this month.

(1) Beat Shaun Luther’s FKT around Blue Marsh Lake: Right after reading Shaun’s cool article from last month’s newsletter, I knew I wanted to take up his challenge of recording an FKT circumnavigating Blue Marsh Lake. If I didn’t do it soon, I thought, someone much faster than me would do it, and the opportunity would be gone forever. So I looked at a few maps, did a little planning, and went out to make the attempt on April 5th–almost exactly a year after Shaun made his FKT run.

I started at the northern end of the lake, to get the State Game Land section out of the way first, and of course–having done zero recon of this area–I got turned around and a little lost. But once I was through, it was pretty smooth sailing (not literally–boats are not allowed) around the rest of the lake. I ended up edging out Shaun’s time by 8 minutes (a 20-mile route in 3:29:22).

(2) Peak-to-Peak: Whenever we would run up to Cushion Peak on a Wednesday Night Run, someone would always mention how neat it would be to do a “peak-to-peak” run from there to Mount Penn. From the Cushion Peak lookout, you can just barely make out Mount Penn’s Fire Tower in the distance–and it’s so inviting! Finally I found a morning to actually do it.

Embarrassing side note: I spent a long time trying to figure out where to park near Cushion Peak. I was planning on asking Yuriko to drive me back out there after completing the run, so I could get my car. Why did it take me SO LONG to realize it was much easier to have her drop me off at Cushion Peak, and then I could just run home after summiting Mt. Penn?

I did this one on April 11th — the full run was just under 16 miles and just under 3 hours. Pretty clear day, so nice views from both mountains.

(3) Pacing Gabrielle: Gabrielle Minarik, a Pottstown runner, signed up for a “virtual 50k” after Hyner (and everything else) was canceled, and she wanted to do it at Blue Marsh. She was a little nervous about getting off course, so she asked for a guide and some company. I roped Steve Vida into joining us, and we three spent the morning (and early afternoon) looping around the lake (without the short cuts this time), trying to give each other support but also plenty of space. Gabrielle got her 50k PR (6:19)!

(4) Radsport Virtual Climb Challenge: The Radsport Festival has already been canceled for this year, but to raise some money for the Reading Recreation Commission’s food service program, the festival organizers decided to create a series of challenges for runners and cyclists on Mt. Penn. Since that particular mountain is my home, I figured I’d give it a shot. This week, I posted times for the Trail Running event, the Road Bike event, and the Road Running event. (I don’t have a mountain bike, so that’s the one event I’m not doing.) All routes are short, tough climbs, starting near City Park (intersection of Clymer and Duryea) that go up the mountain. All except for the road run end at the Fire Tower. (The road run ends at the Pagoda.) My times weren’t amazing (I’ve never been a particularly fast climber), but I still had a lot of fun with each challenge.

Looking forward to more new challenges to keep solo running interesting (until life gets back to normal). Rumor has it that Brandon Beane is cooking up something pretty sweet…

–Matt Brophy

Minutes from the Race Director Meeting (April 2020)

Race Director Meeting Minutes

Date: April 16, 2020

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: held via Zoom

Present: Steve McGuire, Polly Corvaia, Jane Setley, Caroline Hill, Sue Jackson, Lenny Burton, Mike Yoder, Laura Yoder, Dan Govern, Georgine McCool, Jon Durand, Karen Rule, Lisa Domeshek, Shaun Luther, Caroline Hill, John Thompson, Libby, Tiffany, and Ellie Alderfer

Treasury Report – Shaun Luther—we have enough money in the account due to reserving 3 years of baseline funds, so the club is stable for the foreseeable future with the races being on or off.


  • Charlie Horse Half Marathon—Shaun Luther—Charlie Horse and Dirty Pony are canceled this year. Registrations had essentially stopped due to uncertain conditions. There is a small amount of money available for Special Olympics. A small amount of expense has been spent on the non-refundable facility fee, and Shaun is trying to get a refund from the music licensing fee. The horse shoes are ready for painting for the 2021 race.
  • Run for the Ages—June 28, 2020, no input from the race director. Polly is questioning whether the pandemic will affect the airline tickets dates that are good for one year from the race in June 2020. Steve is not sure of the work being done at Nolde—he will reach out to Donna Hey for an update.
  • Grings Mill 5K and 10K, August 2, 2020—Caroline Hill—about 8 entries so far. Permits are paid. Caroline has not been in touch with the park about the date. The shirts will likely not have the year on them. The prizes will be a painting of the Red Bridge on slate. The logo creator and design will be changed. Not too much has been invested in the race, so far. Likely to decrease sponsorship requests for prize giveaways due to the financial status of businesses.
  • Blues Cruise 50K, October 4, 2020—Dan Govern—still in planning phase, has 51 people registered. Has the permit and pavilion reserved. Not really into his planning phase yet which starts in June. Swag will not be on the scale of last year.
  • Oley Valley Country Classic, November __, 2020—Lenny Burton—thinking of not having a race this year … with so much up in the air with the location determination and the conditions, Lenny may reconsider in June. He has not heard back from RMC about using their location. 
  • Kris Kringle 5-miler, December 27, 2020—Polly Corvaia—hold on ordering the hoodies. There is time to make decisions later in the year for the race.
  • Shiver by the River Series, December thru March 2021—Sue Jackson—Has already booked Temple fire company for the 2021 date, due to foresight of all the event cancellations that will need to be rescheduled.
  • Berks County Jr. High Cross Country—no update on this currently.

Other updates:

RRCA emails and guidance: Question—Have people been getting the monthly email from RRCA? Mostly no, we are not. RRCA recommended to cancel runs and races at least for the next 60 days—thru the end of May. Also recommended to avoid a virtual race, as to not have people congregate to popular places.

The club will consider when to get the runs back on, and, separately, when the post-run social dinners or gatherings will resume once the runs have started.

Steve McGuire recommended having “dateless” swag for this year, and move the swag to another year if not used in 2020.

Charity support issues: find out something creative that people are doing to continue charity support, and try to be creative with ideas if races must be canceled in the traditional sense.

Thanks to Mike Whalen for allowing the club to host this meeting via his personal Zoom account.

Laura Yoder’s Big Solo Miles

The stay-at-home orders and COVID-19 caused many of my races to be canceled, as it did for so many of us. But I have been honoring the new popular saying: “Running is not canceled!”

It all began so innocently with a course being marked on local trails by fellow Pacer member Brandon Beane. His creative course design and dedication to getting it marked motivated me to run my first “race replacement.” I followed his carefully marked trail to complete a 50k solo run, as a replacement for the HAT 50k, which had been scheduled for March 21. (Well, most of that run was solo. My husband Mike ran the first 15 miles with me.) 

Next up was a way to replace a 12-hour run that was also canceled. I was not sure where or how to run a solo run that long and practice social distancing since local trails were becoming very busy all of sudden. I decided on an epic treadmill day! Just how long and how far could I go on my treadmill? That is where Mike came in again, as my all time favorite crew person, always there to support my crazy adventures. He kept me fueled and hydrated for my run. Well, 10 hours later, I had completed 50 miles! Yes, 50 miles on my treadmill. He even made me a finisher medal for my run! 

Then the challenges really started appearing online. I was hooked. Next up was the Personal Peak Quarantine Backyard Ultra on April 4th. Run 4.167 miles every hour on the hour for as many hours as you can. Over 2,000 people from all around the world competed in this virtual challenge where we checked in on a Zoom meeting to know when the bell would ring to begin the next lap. Mike made me my official race bib, and off I went. I lasted 15 hours, completing a total of 62 miles. Again, 50 of those miles on my treadmill, and the remaining 12 I ventured out on the roads near our house. Michael Wardien, from Virginia, the winner of that event, made my run look like a warm up, since he completed 63 hours worth of 4.167 mile laps in his neighborhood giving him just over 262 miles. 

I was still eager for more, and since I am a member of the  Berks County Solo Runner group on Facebook, organized by our local running store Fleet Feet, I saw a new challenge within the next week. It was the “Solo Break-the-Tape Finish Line Photo Challenge.” Well, this just happened to coincide with the original date for the Boston Marathon, which had to be postponed to September. I decided I wanted to run a solo marathon in honor of those having to wait a little bit longer for their chance to run. I had the extreme honor of completing the Boston Marathon in 2017. I have to say it is truly an indescribable, once-in-a-lifetime experience for a runner. I also wanted to honor all of the healthcare workers and front line people keeping our country safe and healthy. So I left for my solo marathon run and returned home to an incredible surprise. Mike created the best finish line ever. I was beyond surprised and excited to Break The Tape! 

I have other challenges lined up and am very thankful for my health to be able to complete them. I am also very lucky to have such an amazing and supportive husband!  What is most important is that we all are doing what we can to keep each other and ourselves safe and healthy. We need to be there for each other however possible. I am, as we all are, eager to be back running with my friends and racing again.  I only hope my crazy running somehow motivates others to get out there and keep moving forward. Running is not cancelled!

–Laura Yoder

Andy Styer’s Triple Peak 50k

A little background: this year’s racing schedule was going to be Phunt 50k in January, HAT 50k in March, Coopers Rock 50k in April, and Worlds End 100k in May. With that agenda, lots of training miles and vertical gain would need to be sandwiched in there.

I first bagged Phunt and went to Mexico instead–no complaints there! I ran a 50k at Blue Marsh in February as my replacement run. 

HAT 50k was canceled, so I ran a 50k that day anyway on the Horse-Shoe Trail.

Coopers Rock was postponed, so on April 25th, I put together a route which involved a 3 mountain tour (Mt. Penn, Neversink, and Guldin’s Hill aka Copperhear Hill). Having grown up in St Lawrence, I was up on Neversink and Guldin’s all the time, so these places are like home to me. There are several road connectors, so it’s about 85% trail, 15% road. This course boasts over 5000′ of vertical gain and more turns than can be explained. As I told my friend Kyle Benjamin, who ran the majority with me, the course map is up here in my 47-year-old brain, which is scary in itself.

 So, with Worlds End 100k being postponed, you can guess what I’ll be doing that day anyway  🙂

–Andy Styer