Letter from a Lovable Lame Duck

by Steve Maguire

This is my  last entry as the lame duck President given the Pacers’ Christmas Party is now on Michelle’s tab. First order of business is to thank Michelle Henry for stepping up and to offer my support and congratulations. I strongly believe she has the talent and backing to increase participation and continue the path of community engagement set by so many members before us. 

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President-elect, Michelle Henry

In my first letter to the club, I shared the guidance disclosed by one of our members–simply put, “Don’t F@#$ it up.” I think my three years pushed that metric. This wasn’t limbo, however, and I’ve set the bar as low as possible. Figure at some point we cancelled all the races, social events, group runs, post-run gatherings, monthly meetings, and discouraged socializing in general. We had a flood, a few earthquakes, a mass emergence of cicadas, a pandemic, and that still didn’t stop our support of other local organizations and businesses. 

The world has thrown at this group of runners, bikers, and motivated people a flurry of hardships, and in the words of Tom Chobot, aka “Ultra Runner,” we simply continued to move forward. This wasn’t singular, as the entire lot of us moved forward. The product of our relationships. A friend penned the epitome of that thought today which is worth sharing. 

To have friends – who truly care about one another, who help each other, who look out for one another and who laugh and cry and play together, well, there are few greater things in life.

I would like to thank all the race directors for their tireless work organizing and executing events in what were unknown and constantly changing conditions. How about race day morning in 2019 when Blue Marsh dam flooded out the Gring’s Mill course or when COVID protocols forced Kris Kringle to go virtual and the Shiver series postponements only days in advance. 

I would like to thank the volunteers that came out to each of the races and events to support both the race directors and the participants. Yep, we dealt with rainstorms marking courses, total changes to logistics and venues, and the uncertainty of how to gather, hydrate, award, and disperse participants while keeping everyone as safe as possible. Teamwork at its finest. 

I would also like to thank and apologize to those extended families of these volunteers who put up with the late nights, early mornings, boxes everywhere, wet clothes, dirty cars, and likely some cursing.

I’m not sure if it’s pride or thanks, but the individuals that brought the idea and execution of the Race Mates program went above and beyond. This is the program where we’ve teamed up with IM Able, creating an opportunity for adaptive athletes to participate in some of the local events.   

Lastly on this train of thanks is the runners. Yes, you are the ones that have put the bibs on and provided the parade of motivation set by example and perseverance. To the age group 70+, you show the rest of us there’s no limit, no time to stop, no excuse. To the youth, we see at the JR High Invitational among other races, this is the investment we’ll be thankful for later. To those between those two fence posts, continue doing your best.   That loud onerous cow bell has always been ringing “thank you for running” because I’m a page behind on my training plan.  

Hope to see you all at the Christmas Party and all the other events Michelle and the new team have planned for the club.   

Thanks again for your support and friendship during my tenure as Pacer President.  

Got to run, 


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Minutes from the General Meeting (November 2021)

General Meeting Minutes

Date: November 11, 2021

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Tino’s Restaurant, Wyomissing

Treasury Report – Shaun Luther—112% of target; some income from the upcoming races is coming in; and then some income from expenses of the ending races is going out. Members should expect to be seeing the membership renewal emails. FYI—if you aren’t getting the Pacer emails, you may have unsubscribed by some means. Contact Shaun to check about your status.


  • Charlie Horse Half Marathon (date to be announced for 2022)—Shaun Luther—registration goes live on Sign Up on December 1. The course will be the same course as last year—i.e., no bus to the start at Rustic Park. Shaun is trying to change the date of the race due to the traffic conflict with the large annual event at Maple Grove.
  • Run for the Ages 10K Trail Run—Donna Hey—June 26, 2022 (Sunday) at Nolde Forest. Nothing going on yet. Nolde is doing seeding this Saturday, and need volunteers (must be pre-registered).
  • Grings Mill 5K and 10K (August 7, 2022)—Jason Karpinski—Ron Horn, of Pretzel City Sports, is booked for August 7, 2022.
  • Blues Cruise 50K (First Sunday in October, every year)—no report
  • Oley Valley Country Classic (completed for 2021)—Lenny Burton—profit was a little lower than expected. Will re-look at expenses. May go back to the original day in November. But might have a venue charge on a non-festival day. Motion made to make a $1000 donation to the Oley Valley Ambulance Association, seconded, and passed by the membership.
  • Kris Kringle 5-Miler (Sunday, December 26, 2021)—Polly Corvaia—156 runners registered so far. Looking for 500. Day-of registration is offered. The start time has changed to 10 a.m. (previously has been 11 a.m.). An e-blast will be sent from Run SignUp. Volunteers between 7:30 and 8:00; registration opens at 8:30. Hoodies (550) are ordered, but not printed yet. Will tailor the printing to the number registered. Gnome design. All the permits are in. Advertising being done. Will be still at the 4H center. Pre-wrapped snack foods, and some fresh fruit. Must wear masks inside (per Penn State). Kim Lewis is doing the design of the hoodie. Fleet Feet web site has offered a banner advertisement. Polly described the volunteer process for the new people who were present at the meeting. The race is clockwise this year – i.e., major hill in the beginning.
  • Shiver by the River 5K and 10K (First race is Sunday, December 12, 2021)—Sue Jackson—first race coming up; will have packaged food and soup, but no bagels. Depending on the weather, the registration may be in the pavilion or possibly inside. Masks may be required. Registration starts at 8:30—Volunteers needed, as always. Temple Fire Company is currently reserved for the after-party on March 13th. 115 currently registered. Will have day-of registration. Runners can still choose the 5K or 10K on race day. Both races start at the same time this year.
  • Jr. High Cross Country Fall Invitational (completed for 2021)—Tom Chobot—described the event for the benefit of the new folks at the meeting. Senior high cross country event – 17 Pacer volunteers this year. Managed by Tom and Gwen Chobot, with support from the Pacers. Numbers of runners still a bit low, likely due to the Covid conditions. Phil Lechner’s junior high girls won the county championship, and Tom’s team won the senior high county event.

Committee Reports

Social Committee:

  • Christmas Party—Michelle Henry—Friday, December 3, Grill Fire Company, 6 to 11 p.m., raffles, and DJ this year. (Still offering the membership renewal, raffle tickets, and can credit card payments accepted).

Communications Committee—Jane Setley—The Facebook “Pagoda Pacers Athletic Club” page and the Club’s Web page are the two official communication pages, and both have restricted access to post information. The “Pagoda Pacer Discussion Group” on FB  is considered unofficial communication, but it is  open to all who want to post something. John Durand is always looking for more help to add to this information

Community Service

  • Weekly runs—Great turnout for new runner event. The group is getting back to gathering together at a food/beverage location after the run. Suggestion made that walkers post that they will be walking, in order to give some reassurance to people who might want to walk, but don’t know if there will be someone to walk with. Also, don’t hesitate to put up an inquiry or notice about a mile/hour time, to see if others will be doing the same.

Charity Committee

  • Scholarship announcement will be announced in December newsletter, with the end an February application deadline. The scholarships are 2 for Berks County Senior High runners and 2 for children of Pacer members.

Old business: None

New business

  • Next adaptive runner race—Mike Whalen—“Run for Riley” 5K on November 14, local third grader who is suffering from brain cancer. Next race will probably be the Shiver in December.
  • Donna Hey worked an agreement with Deiffenbach’s to ‘potato chip’ every Pacer race. If we agree, we will advertise their logo in some way – maybe on the web site. They will also be offered 4 entries per race for the exchange. Donna will order the chips and deliver them to the race director. (Estimated 3,000 bags of chips to cover all the races). 
  • Club elections – winners are president- Michelle Henry; board members are – reelected Karen Rule, Ellie Alderfer, & Beth Kohl, and new member – Steve Vida. 97 votes out of 360 members.
  • Sincere thanks expressed to Steve McGuire and Mike Yoder who are ending their tenures as president and board member.

Race Results (November 2021)

Email race results to Race Results Coordinator Karen Rule at raceresults@pagodapacers.com.

Tyler Arboretum 10K
9Lou Donofrio46:013rd M40-49
Conestoga 10 Mile Trail
Paul Makurath3:44:451st M70+
Philadelphia Trail Half Marathon
208Paul Makurath2:50:081st M70+
Fitzy’s Halloween 5K
4Ben Hatt18:101st M35-39
8Dee Koutsourais20:041st Female
19Steve Maguire21:201st M55-59
23Karin Tursack21:313rd Female
26Michael Reinhart21:403rd M40-44
49Jon Durand23:48
70Zeb Ganster24:59
74Beth Kohl25:131st F35-39
115Janine Beidler26:53
120Todd Phillips27:03
178Sorita Averill29:141st F60-64
186Andrea Adam30:02
187Lauren Massaro30:03
192John Thompson30:06
206Jim Borden30:47
234Joanne Patti32:263rd F 60-64
373Helene Horn42:31
JFK 50-Miler
247Andy Styer9:13:52
Tiadaghton Trail Challenge
(Half Marathon)
28Jess Gockley2:48:412nd F 40-49
31Joanne Van Horn2:53:111st F 50-59
32Elaine Cook2:53:262nd F 50-59
41John Thompson3:12:26

35th Kris Kringle 5-Mile Race Set for December 26!

The 35th running of the KRIS KRINGLE 5 MILE RACE is Sunday December 26th at the Berks County Agricultural Center, 1238 County Welfare Road, Leesport, PA 19533. Registration opens at 8:30, race starts at 10:00. This is an important year for club events to get real racing back after a virtual year.

Race-day registration will be available and we need as many volunteers as possible to get the race off smoothly. If you are racing, consider helping at the registration table. We also need help parking cars, manning road intersections, directing runners at the finish line, presenting awards, and cleaning up afterwards. Volunteers should arrive at the Ag Center between 7:30 – 8:00. Sign the volunteer list at the registration table and let Polly know you are there to help. Masks are required inside the 4H building as per Penn State Extension.

Proceeds benefit high school runners through the Berks County Cross Country Coaches Association and provide college scholarships, free running shoes to students in need, and sponsorship of the Junior High Cross Country Invitational Race.

Click HERE to register for the best winter race in Berks County!

Christmas Party This Friday!

Don’t miss the Pacer Christmas Party this Friday, December 3rd!

Put those running shoes away for the night and gather for some delicious food and good vibes. Remember to bring extra $ for the raffles.

Date: Friday, December 3rd
Time: 6pm-11pm
Location: Grill Fire Company – 739 Mountain View Rd. Reading, PA 19607
Price: $10 Pagoda Pacers members in good standing, or $20 for non-member guests.
Includes: Food, beer, wine, and soda.
*Pacer membership for 2022 can be renewed at the party.

Wednesday Night Runs (December ’21 locations)

‘Tis the season to run at night and check out the lights!

Post-run feast

Here’s where we’ll be this December:

December 1–Exeter High School — Post-run gathering at Liberty Tap Room

December 8–Wyomissing High School ***Bring a new runner out!!!! Post-run gathering at Sly Fox.

December 15–Hampden Park, Reading (next to RHS)—Christmas on the Mountain Lights!!!! Post-run gathering at the Pike Cafe.

December 22—The Home Depot, Wyomissing — Gring’s Mill Christmas Lights!!! Post-run gathering at Tino’s.

December 29–Oley Valley High School — Post-run gathering at Bella Italia.


The How, Why, and True Reason for the Naming of the Charlie-Horse

by Charlie Crowell

I started running in the 1980s, going to local races through the 1990s with the realization early on that I enjoyed trail running over road courses. I trained and ran at home on the Horse-Shoe Trail, doing short out-and-back runs, but thought a point-to-point run would be more interesting. My favorite run was from from Hopewell Furnace at the Chester County line to Plowville which was approximately 17 miles. My Dad, a great hiker of the Horse-Shoe and many other trails, would drop me off. There I was, all alone, with a couple of water bottles, a power bar, no aid stations, and no cell phone. There was no other option but to make it home.

In the Spring of 1997, I went to New York and did Ed Hart’s “Make Your Mother Proud.”  
This was a point-to-point ultra trail run with a one-way ride in an old Greyhound bus somewhere out in the Finger Lakes. In September of 1997, I did the Conestoga Trail Run, first of twenty. This was similar to Ed Hart’s, but with school buses and only ten miles instead of thirty.

Another interest I enjoyed during this time was coaching Special Olympic athletes, year round in all sports. I did this for thirteen years with a ten-year tenure as head basketball coach. All Special Olympic sports were at no cost to the athletes and so there was always a need for funds for equipment, uniforms, venues to practice, and many other things. A light bulb went off – a fund raiser for Berks County Special Olympics!

I had a favorite run on a good trail with no roads (that changed).  Shorten the distance a little. Find a start and finish. My neighbor is the school bus contractor for Twin Valley School District. We had a great cause. Let’s do a trail run. No problem!

I kind of knew everything that had to be done, so in the Fall of 1997, I planned a trail run with a small group consisting of relatives, friends, and Pagoda Pacers, to try out the course, explain what I had in mind, and see if they had any suggestions. Mike and Denise Yoder were the Pagoda Pacers who joined us that day.  On a warm Saturday morning, we ran from French Creek to Sleepy Hollow, and then back to my home in Plowville. After a good run, we gathered around outside to talk, come up with some final plans, and drink some cold Yuenglings. Just as we started, someone in the group doubled over, yelling out in pain with a major leg cramp. Denise calmly said, “You have a Charlie-Horse!” I immediately said, “That’s it. We’ll name the race The Charlie-Horse.”
That was the final missing piece we needed: a name.

People often ask me if I ever got a chance to run the race. The answer is yes; I ran the 8th, 9th and 23rd Charlie-Horses and finished in first place over all. For the rest of this story, you’re going to have to wait for the movie to come out.

I have always enjoyed running with the Pagoda Pacers and now enjoy volunteering at their events.

Run, Santa, Run!

Mrs. Clause won’t let the Grinch steal this year’s Run Santa Run! This run, sponsored by Fleet Feet West Reading, is all about having fun and sharing cheer…and this year that includes staying safe! 

Run Santa Run will consist of several small group fun runs this year! Each run will take place on weekends in December with limits of 20 people per group. We also ask that you respect all traffic laws during your group run.  Fleet Feet will have a gathering tent set up behind the store for pre-run warm-ups.

This year we will be running for fun with no timing, so run for fun!  Wear your most festive holiday outfit, and take time to smile and make others smile! 

We are collecting funds as a donation to the Bethany Lutheran Church’s Food Pantry to build Christmas Meals for those in need. This local West Reading church has hosted our post race party in the past so let’s show our appreciation and help them out!


Holiday Specials at Oley Valley Organics

Remember to help your gut flora & immune system! Along with the cold, dry winds, the common cold & flu are blowing around! It’s useful to create a daily self-care practice with elderberry and fermented foods to keep the body well and supple. We carry many different forms of elderberry from syrups and teas to gummies and frozen berries! We also carry Cottage Kitchen fermented sauerkraut, curtido and more which are great with your eggs in the morning! This year especially, protect your body with whole foods. 

32nd Annual Shiver Series Starts in Less Than 2 Weeks!

The 32nd  annual SHIVER by the RIVER 5K & 10K is NOW. We need runners!!!  We need volunteers!!!!! 

The first race is Dec 12th, at Jim Dietrich Park, in Muhlenberg Twp.  Registration opens at 8:30; both races start at 10:00.  If you can’t run all 4 of them, run 3, run 2, or run 1.  

Due to the persistence of COVID, we will have some slight changes.  Depending on weather, registration may be outside, at the pavilion to the left of the farmhouse.  If it’s inside, we will ask runners to get their bib, check out our swag and then make their way outside.  If it gets too crowded we may limit the number of people in the farmhouse.  We will have the soup; but instead of bagels, we will have individually wrapped pretzels.  Instead of the tables of snacks, each runner will receive a snack bag at registration (as we did last year).  Depending on the weather, we may ask runners to not gather inside, but instead grab some food and head outside to the pavilion or the porch.    

Per CDC guidelines, we ask that anyone who is not vaccinated to wear a mask inside the farmhouse.

If you choose not to run the race, please consider volunteering.  We need volunteers before the race, for parking and registration; during the race – on the road, at the finish line and in the farmhouse; and after the race – for cleanup.  If you can help prior to the race, please plan to arrive between 8:00 – 8:15.  If you can help with the race itself, please arrive no later than 9:30.  Look for one of the race directors somewhere around the farmhouse.   Thank you in advance for your support!

Hope to see you there!!!

Sue Jackson, Georgine McCool, Tiffany Pantoja