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:

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.

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.