Letter from the President (November 2020)

Gobsmacked! For hours I’d been struggling with these ideas swirling about my head like autumn leaves. Must get them all on paper before they hit the ground. First, yes, “gobsmack” is a word. I learned tonight it is British slang for amazement. More importantly it pulled together this detail so missing from Pennsylvania folklore (at least from my education). 

I’d heard about the Lenni Lenape Indians from a high school classmate who had direct genealogy ties. She was a cheerleader; I probably thought…skip that…. I was in high school…..  Can’t say I remember anything in detail but I did some research and they were called something like “Delaware people” in the late 1600s about when William Penn arrived.  We know Penn’s work on the Delaware for his creation of Philadelphia, the utopian city of “brotherly love”.  The Lenape were here well before Penn and named many of the Pacer haunts.  Sinking Spring, Oley, Maxatawny, and Tulpehocken just to name a few. 

The month of November will be the 26th running of the Oley 10 miler, and thanks to a unique format of semi virtual runs, you can relish in the thought that the epic scenery of that valley has been shared for centuries. Check out Lenny and Barry’s link to the course and supporting details. 

Speaking of details, a special thanks goes out to Pretzel City Sports and their team that have been doing a great service to the Pacers communicating the adapted format for the Shiver by the River Series.  Four races, two distances, plus winter weather and Sue Jackson and her great team are prepared for another memorable year.  Don’t wait to register–these races are popular and have size limits. 

You see, slow and steady have a limit. Tulpehocken, or “land of the turtle,” is also the name of the creek that borders the old Kris Kringle course. If you were slow, you may have missed that this race hit its size limit. To compensate for outside constraints, Polly, John, and Lisa have adapted and moved the start to the adjoining property (the Reading Fairgrounds) which will allow the entire race to be under one land management. With this type of passion, no wonder this race has built such a popular following. 

This Kris Kringle location is the same site as the one where Tom and Gwyn Chobot organized the Jr High XC event held this October 24th. Where the club’s mission is to encourage healthy lifestyles, so many volunteers, coaches, and parents saw this as a gift of some normalcy to kids during these crazy times. Can’t thank Tom, Gwyn, all the Pacer volunteers, Pretzel City, and the parents for making this happen. To paraphrase Phil Lechner, “We needed to step up”.  

After the Jr High event, Polly was out on the Kringle course doing a wheel measure. The Lenape Indians, similar to the technology of the time, had a variety of linear measures, such as small units like the distance from one’s finger to elbow, or longer measures, such as the distance one could travel from sun-up to sun-down.

William Penn was considered a friend by the Lenape and brokered land upon his arrival in the Delaware Valley in 1682 that was granted to his family by King George II. The measure of the land was the walking distance of a day and a half. Roughly about 40 miles was the assumed distance. 

About 19 years after William’s death, his sons, Thomas and John, along with an official, James Logan, may have organized Pennsylvania’s first documented Ultra. It’s one of those dirty details of American history where our forefathers pulled a fast one.  

Chief Lappawinsoe signed the Walking Purchase agreement (1737) to sell part of his tribe’s land in the east using the 1 ½ day metric. Mr. Logan then arranged and hired 3 fast runners and added 65 additional miles to the earlier William Penn agreement. 

 Chief Lappawinsoe is said to have described the walk as not “fairly performed” and “no sit down to smoke, no shoot a squirrel, but lun, lun, lun all day long!” 

If I interpret the information correctly, Edward Marshall, one of the hired runners and the only known finisher did a 105 miles in 36 hours. Roughly Philadelphia to Hershey at a 20:34 pace.  Not too bad, but I think we have some club members who could have gotten Mr. Logan a few more miles.

If you’re in the Wernersville area, look for the old man at the Gristmill on Wooltown Rd. He just might have roots to more of this story.

Time to stop, got to lun, lun, lun.


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