Letter from the President (December 2019)

by Steve Maguire

Word on social media was Target had deals on Christmas decorations where you’d get $50 back if you spent $100.   This started an exchange on lights etc and made me wonder the long term impact. You see my youth crossed the time between screw-in bulbs and those first plug-in.  I’m not sure if it was frugality, pride, or some generational thing, but strings of lights were not replaced without a fight.

Probably in each household, year after year there was a system to how they were put away, and when they didn’t light, you learned how electricity worked.  In those strands each bulb was connected in series like a chain. If one bulb failed, the entire strand goes dark and you’d spend the afternoon swapping bulbs to find the culprit.   Through this rite of passage, I may have learned much: unsafe techniques on a ladder, don’t hang lights on a holly bush, what it feels to get shocked, and a few curse words.

We try to get smarter with each passing year, and you learn to check things ahead of time.  You learn taking down is as much work as hanging up. You learn to prioritize with what’s available, and most of all, you try to remember why you do it. 

Hanging lights is probably the closest I’ll get to being a Race Director.  I’m humbled and appreciative that the club elected me for a second term as President.  I’m a realist, however, in knowing this organization functions because all the lights light.  No different than the single bulbs, each member–through volunteering, participating, and promoting–does a part and the Berks area benefits.

November 10th was the 25th running of the Oley Country Classic 10-Miler and 5k.  I believe over the history of the race, the Oley Youth League has benefitted something like $100,000.  This is done through the hard work of Barry Goodhart, Lenny Burton, and all the Pacer volunteers.  What is amazing is the entry fee is still close to the price in the 90s at only $25. As noted, I have been electrocuted, but I can’t recall even a 5k at that price where you get a competitive race, a shirt, and awards that are as impressive as the work of Maggie Gallen (Barnard).   If you haven’t been, the shop at Googleworks is a great opportunity to support local artists such as Maggie.

December brings two races we host with and without festive Christmas bells and lights.   The Shiver series starts Sunday, December 8th at 10 am.   Time to register your first of at least 3 finishes in the series.  Three weeks later, join the festivities for the Kris Kringle 5 miler Sunday, December 29th.   Both of these are well organized and opportunities to stay active through the cold on the course with a bib or as a volunteer.

We’ll skip the December meeting as David Feinauer (aka Swamp) and team promise to put us all on the Naughty List with a not to be missed Christmas Party on Friday, December 6th at the Grill Fire Company. If you haven’t gotten your fill of Christmas decorating, I’m sure the team would appreciate the help with raffle prizes and decorating. I don’t believe ladders are permissible.

 Last but not least, I’d like to thank Phil Lechner and Ken Seale for their time and involvement with both the Board and the Pacers’ club in general.   Ken and Phil both have changes and new opportunities in their lives, which opened the board positions in which Ellie Alderfer and Karen Rule were elected.

We’re working on a Royals game for January and Walleyball for February. If we don’t see you in December, have an amazing Holiday–enjoy the lights!

Time to quit typing, got to run……. Steve

Letter from the President (November 2019)

by Steve Maguire

Having recently spread grass seed, this biology tidbit from Jay Drasher is timely.  The songbirds we’re seeing (such as the sparrows gorging on my lawn) travel as flocks and will pack on up to about 50% of their normal weight before heading south.  Image the training plan which suggests you become morbidly obese, reduce your sleep, and then your marathon or ultra performance will improve.  

I don’t think mid-race weight gain is ever the goal; nevertheless, last month I noted quite a bit about the food options likely to be encountered at Blues Cruise. Well, Dan Govern, Mike Yoder, Stephan Weiss, Mike Whalen, plus all the aid station volunteers definitely stepped up their game to make this happen.   The traffic on social media brought great praise not only to the event itself, but at points it also appeared that we may also need to publish a recipe book. Thanks to all who volunteered.

Fortunately, on race day, Mother Nature did her part delivering a cool fall temp with a late shower.  Great conditions for running 30 plus miles and the well-marked course delivered. The near record runner turnout arrived at the mile-26 Blues Brothers station feast with accolades of the preceding Margarita burgers, sweet potato balls, quesadillas, homemade soup and Jell-O blocks.  Our French toast didn’t have a chance. One of the potential options for our aid station was pierogies, of which I was told Mike produced a stellar version for the finishers. 

Reading up on Maggie Guterl’s performance at Big’s Backyard Ultra, there was also mention of pierogies.   Maggie was a local runner who’d recently moved off to Colorado. She left many local friends who followed her epic performance at one of the most arduous of races.  This is Gary Cantrell’s running version of Groundhog Day. A 4 miles course with a repeating start time every hour. The last person to toe the line is the winner. Seems simple until you realize the person she had to beat showed up every time for 59 hours straight.   Can’t believe it took the guy 2 ½ days to realize the futility of altering the will of a strong woman before Maggie became the first woman to win this race. So, what does the overall winner of this event win you ask? Beyond the accolades, she’s earned the prize of an entry into the Barkley Marathons.   Not long-ago Jim Demsko and a few Hamburg runners helped her practice the orienteering and sleepless running conditions required for her prior attempt of the epic 100 miler. We wish her luck. If you want to learn more about the Barkley, it is well worth watching the YouTube video the “The Race that Eats its Young”.   

You may remember Gary Cantrell’s (aka Lazarus Lake) name from the Vol State 500K where our own Rhoda Smoker was the top female in 2018, traveling 314 miles in 4 ½ days. Check out Runner’s World’s coverage of Rhoda here.

A few years back, Tom Chobot completed a 200 miler, which is truly a remarkable feat.  The local parents however are probably more impressed and thankful for his and Gwyn’s organization and execution of the Middle School Cross Country Championship.   To all the Pacers that volunteer and support this event, it may be one of the best returns of time and money for the club. It was a memorable morning as captured by Lisa Luther in a photo of the stunning battalion in a charge of wills as they set off through the fog. 

We look forward to seeing some of these student runners and their coaches again at the Kris Kringle on Sunday, December 29, 2019. Mark your calendars for this festive 5-miler. 

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to add the Oley Valley Classic on November 10th and the first Shiver Race on December 8, 2019 to your calendar.  Pop in at the Oley 10-miler and you’ll see the Pacer Trailer now emblazoned with the Pacer logo. As always, volunteers and runners are greatly appreciated.

For any of you still reading, if you would like to follow the “songbird-pack-on-the-pounds training plan,” I would suggest that on Friday, Nov 1st, you check out the bonfire event at Mike and Laura Yoder’s.   Always a fun event where roasted marshmallows make for a good carb loading.   

Friday December 6th at the Pacer Christmas party would be a good follow-up if you still have room for treats. 

Last but not least, don’t forget the General Membership Meeting on Thursday, Nov 14th, where we will be looking to elect members to four slots on the Board of Directors and the Club President.

Time to quit typing, got to run……. Steve

Letter from the President (September 2019)

by Steve Maguire

For any of our Pacer members about to embark on Blues Cruise, our signature 50k, here’s a fun fact to think about. Ketchup, or “koe-cheup” as it was referred to by the Chinese, was not originally tomato-based. It was made of fermented pastes, fish entrails, meat byproducts, and soybeans. Chicken or Egg dilemma, as this sounds like yesterday’s ketchup is today’s hot dog. (I’m not judging; I’m a big fan of both Berks at the ballpark and Hippy dogs.)

This food tidbit comes from a recent series on the History channel, “The Food That Built America.” There’s a time limit on Blues Cruise (a bit less than 200 years), but I’m sure the Aid Station Captains will take the runners on a similar food adventure.  The Club, Race Directors, and extended volunteers take pride in their themed aid stations providing fluids, food, merriment, and encouragement to the capacity 400 plus runners.  

As you read this, Dan Govern, Mike Yoder, and their teams are putting the final touches on this 50k event for October 6th and have asked Mother Nature to do her part.  Stop out to share a bit of your time or join the race.  All are welcome. 

Sunday, when the race is over, we’ll be loading up the trailer. Yes, a trailer. This asset, almost a year in the making, is 12 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 7 feet tall.  (We needed the height for Jon Durand.) At the moment it’s white and in need of a few Pacer members interested in helping design and execute the graphics portion.  Reach out via Facebook, or email if you’d like to be involved. 

Speaking of getting involved, the Pacer Board met in September covering a few details of which many were support and position related.  Entering into the November election period we will likely have a few vacancies to fill and members up for reelection. This will be formalized at the October 10th General Meeting–during which nominations will be accepted–and the vote will take place at the November meeting.  We’re also looking for some energetic new faces to join some of the committees or get their feet wet supporting a Race Director.  Entering the winter months, what better time to get involved, toss out ideas, and socialize with like minded members? I expect Walleyball, and a hockey game, to name some of the events that will be on the horizon. 

This is a social club, and with the passing of a local legend, Michael Ranck, we reflect on the times that we engage, tell stories, teach, and are taught.  Stealing a quote from Lord of the Rings: “It’s a gift to exist, and with existence comes suffering.” The fact that Mike finished each of the 45 Harrisburg Marathons is a testament to living life with gusto and celebration.  Given his history with teaching and the grandkids, I’m sure he would find joy in Tim Kirk’s proposal to Kelly Murdock at Labor Pains, and the recent marriage of Sam Dever and Alyssa Kennedy.

If you still have energy in those legs for a run or had a good time volunteering at Blues Cruise, you may get solicited by club members Ellie Sterling Alderfer and Beth Kohl for October 13th.   The Reading Hospital Road Run has a new half marathon course, which I anticipate may prove to be fast and well-spectated.   Expect to see many of our members out both racing and volunteering. The race benefits the Friends of Reading Hospital, which, as an organization, supports many similar interests as our club. For example, they’ve placed over 500 AEDs in Berks County. 

Time to quit typing, got to run……. Steve

Letter from the President (August 2019)

Did anyone else realize it’s been a month since the Gring’s Mill race? I looked back at the August Pacer Newsletter with Matt’s cool new format and we were requesting volunteers and runners to attend for what was expected to be another great race. Well the race directors, volunteers, runners, and Mother Nature didn’t let us down. Post-race, the Discussion Group on Facebook was filled with a host of action shots and award photos capturing the day. 

Gring’s Mill race directors: Laura, Jane, Caroline

A special mention goes out to Lynne Reddington, who, with the craft of a carnival pitchman, brought focus to the raffle tables and sponsor donations at a level that would make ShamWow jealous. Also, over the last few weeks, Laura Yoder has personally distributed many thank-you cards to our race sponsors. We appreciate that our club members and community support many of these local companies that give back through their sponsorship. 

I have to say we probably missed a marketing opportunity as our own Barb Raifsnider felt running the Gring’s Mill race alone was not enough. Did you see Barb’s picture was featured in the Reading Eagle, running up to the Pagoda at the Radsport Festival just a couple hours after running Gring’s Mill?

Barb crushing the Radsport Pagoda run after Gring’s Mill

Another impressive feat that should be mentioned is April Zimmerman’s completion of Eastern States 100 miler. Hopefully she’ll be kind enough to let us share her race report.

Look for April’s report in next month’s newsletter.

How the time is flying and it’s not even Labor Day yet. Kris Kringle and the Shiver Series are already in the news. The recent Shiver Facebook post is a reminder to take advantage of the lower rates and register early. The Kringle post was a thank you. The Club donated $4,500 to the Berks County Cross Country Coaches Association from the Kringle proceeds. When the cross-country season starts, it’s a good time to get the coaches together with a large check before the rivalries kick in. We wish both the coaches and the athletes a great season. Polly and the coaches would also appreciate if you’ll mark your calendar again for Sunday December 29th for this year’s Kris Kringle race.

Before noting all the great things Dan Govern and Mike Yoder have going on with the Blues Cruise 50k, I’d like to acknowledge that one of our own, Christine Le, is doing The Rut 28k Race out in Big Sky Montana. Traversing epic views and terrain, I think even the great climbers in the club would be humbled by the course. She will start at 7,500 feet and climb to 10,000 in the first 6 miles. Then, typical of the ski resort, she’ll plummet over the next mile to 8,500 feet. This has to be the point I’d look for the chair lift or an exit because no sane person looks up to 11,140 feet and thinks “Where is a good direction to run?” for the next 2 ½ miles. The race is 10 miles up and 7 miles down. 

Back to the race Dan and Mike are organizing: They’ve designed some great shirts, hats, and a finisher medal, so if you’re on the fence this is definitely a year to run. Putting the numbers in perspective, Dan estimates 400 plus runners; each runner covers 31 miles. Total up those miles and you have a distance that’s halfway around the earth. Thankfully it’s not a relay! To support this great event it takes the help of many. There are 7 themed aid stations, each with a captain supporting the runners. Volunteering on race day or contributing to some of the prep work will make great memories. Bring the family–it’s a full-day event; however, many of the volunteers simply peek in and out as needed. Don’t forget to mark this event– October 6th–on your calendar today.

New Blues Cruise swag

I’ve probably gone long on this entry, and Matt Brophy (Editor-in-Chief) has reminded me I’m late so……got to run….

Steve

Letter from the President (July 2019)

Up until a few days ago I thought I’d be writing about volunteers, upcoming races, and looking forward to seeing Matt Brophy’s touch on his first Pacer Newsletter as editor.

If you’ve been current with the Pagoda Pacers Discussion Group on Facebook, you are probably aware of what has been a tumultuous July. One of my experiences in my youth was being a pallbearer for an uncle. For me, the scrawny high school kid, he was a large man both in stature, but also in how he carried himself. He looked like Lee Marvin in The Dirty Dozen. He was a factory worker–a machinist. He was also an athlete. However, his time of youthful athleticism was taken by WWII. He never spoke of his wartime experience, which I believe for him and many others was a coping mechanism.   

Grabbing that brass rail was a first for me. Carrying that casket may have been one of the most formative points of my youth. The strain of the weight while I looked down upon the flag draped in front of me left an impression that remains with my soul. I’ve told many a person being a pallbearer is an important life experience. 

Now, as a club, we mourn the loss of James Cramer, and as I thought of touching on this point in the Newsletter, something hit me. You see my experience of carrying that casket was not singular; there were others. I did not bear that weight alone. My heart goes out to Jim’s family and close friends. My utmost respect and admiration go out to the family of trail runners that made multiple trips to the AT looking for a friend. Share the good stories of Jim, and remind everyone we need not bear this weight alone.

The weather has been brutal the last few weeks. Between the rain and heat, it’s a wonder anyone has had enough motivation to change the calendar, let alone run. I think typically August is supposed to be the hot month, so if you’re training for something, find a buddy and a really early start time. Mike Whalen posted some good hints a few weeks back on the Discussion group on “hyper-hydration” and managing water intake during the heat.  Well worth reaching out to Mike if you have questions. 

As I noted in prior months, the Charlie Horse race was very successful, and we were fortunate to present a check for $3,400 to the Special Olympics and meet a few of their athletes at our July meeting.   A similar motion was approved to present to the “Friends of Nolde” our 50/50ish split from the Run for the Ages. Up next is the Grings Mill 5k and 10k

Yep, as you read this we’re soliciting for volunteers and runners for Sunday August 4th at the Berks County Heritage Center. Spend a little time with friends and fellow Pacers at possibly one of Berks’ oldest continuous running races. The work of many lightens the load. See you on Sunday. 

Steve