Letter from the President (November ’22)

Man, I cannot believe it is time for club elections already! Congrats to each person who felt inspired and empowered this year to nominate themselves to either take on a new leadership role in the club or to seek out re-election in their current role. Good luck to you all! 

Just a quick note to go along with this month’s meeting:

The November meeting is an exciting one as we gather for the announcement of our newly elected! Last November’s meeting was heavily attended, with at least double our normal attendance. If possible, please, please, please RSVP on the Facebook event page created for the meeting or send me a quick email (mhenry.pacers@gmail.com). This will help tremendously with planning for enough food and seating to accommodate everyone – especially those who don’t normally attend these meetings throughout the rest of the year. While we love to see double the normal attendance, food is pre-ordered, and we don’t want to run out or be scrambling last minute to have enough seating. Thanks in advance for your help in capturing a (close to) accurate headcount to send to the venue.

Gotta go read some bios, 

Michelle

Letter from the President (June 2022)

by Michelle Henry

I’d like to start by saying “Congrats” to Shaun, Libby, and Charlie on a successful race day for the Charlie Horse and Dirty Pony. The weather was perfect, and it looked like everyone had a great time. It was really great to see people checking off some boxes on their passport by volunteering, running a Pacer race, or both! Hopefully that rolls into Run for the Ages!

Passports Completed!

Speaking of the Pacer Passport

I have a minor update  – Since the intent behind “Attend a Wednesday Night Run”  is to promote the group running aspect of our club, I’ve decided that attending a holiday morning Pacer group run will count towards the Wednesday Night Run requirement. Moving forward, the requirement will be to “Attend Pacer WNR/Holiday morning group run”. 

Speaking of the holiday morning run…

What do you guys think about changing up the location of the holiday morning run? (For those who are unaware, we do a group run at 8:30 a.m. every holiday morning from the Nolde Sawmill parking lot.) Just something to think about for a few days. I’d like to hear your “yays”, your “nays”, and your suggestions for possible locations at the monthly membership meeting on June 9th

Speaking of the monthly membership meeting on June 9th….

Berks Trail Works is rescheduled to speak to us prior to the meeting start. Please be there by 6:45 if you’d like to hear more about the organization. 

Also, there has been a request to incorporate a virtual option for our monthly meetings. So, starting this month we will have Zoom set up on a laptop during our meeting so that members who are unable to physically be in attendance for one reason or another can still participate in the meeting. The meeting link and info are shared later on in the meeting section of this newsletter.

Speaking of not physically being in attendance….

To the Chobot and Boggs families – Thank you for all you’ve done to better the local running community. You will be missed, and we wish you all good things in your new journey.

Letter from the President (May 2022)

by Michelle Henry, PPAC President

Spring seems like it has FINALLY made its arrival! I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful that warm weather, sunshine, and longer days are finally upon us! There’s a lot to look forward to over the next few months, such as getting back to member-hosted Wednesday Night Runs; the summer lineup of Pacer races (Charlie Horse, Run for the Ages, and Grings Mill); and some fun social events.

IT’S A GOOD TIME TO BE A PACER!


Have you heard about Berks Trail Works yet?

B.T.W. is a local and somewhat newish member-run nonprofit organization providing necessary maintenance and improvements to several Berks County trails that benefit all trail users – runners, hikers, and mountain bikers alike! Are you a trail runner? If so, there’s a good chance you’ve run on some of the trails they’ve worked on! 

Pagoda Pacer members Sandie & Stephan Kincaid are heavily involved in Berks Trail Works and will be stopping by our membership meeting this month to catch us up on some of the projects that Berks Trail Works have been working on, what’s up next for them, and how you can help support your local trails!

To learn more, please arrive to the membership meeting early. We’ll hear from them at 6:45 p.m. 


May’s monthly membership meeting info:

May’s Monthly Membership meeting will be held on Thursday, May 12th, at Mohnton Fire Company Social Quarters, 100 E Summit St., Mohnton, PA 19540.  The meeting is upstairs. Enter the front door and go up the stairs to your left. There is no need to ring the buzzer for entry. 

Click HERE to see the location on Google Maps.

Food and drink at 6:30 p.m. | Guest Speakers at 6:45 p.m. | Meeting starts at 7:00 p.m. All members are welcomed.

* Members are responsible for purchasing their own beverages. Please bring cash.


Pacer Passport

Just a reminder about the Pacer Passport, which is a way to promote & reward club involvement. This initiative was created to encourage members to participate in club activities, volunteer for club events, and to be a part of club direction, decisions, and growth. Members work towards completing the pyramid by having each block signed once that requirement is fulfilled.A copy of the passport can be picked up at a Wednesday night run or at the monthly membership meetings. You can also request one by emailing president@pagodapacers.com or download a copy HERE.

Letter from Our NEW President (January 2022)

by Michelle Henry

Here it is, my inaugural letter as president. I hate to disappoint you this early on, but I do not have a captivating way of words like Steve Maguire, nor do I have the gift of storytelling like Matt Brophy. What I do have are big shoes to fill. While it’s true, I do have small feet, it is also true that I am determined to fill those shoes to the best of my ability. 

As I sat at my desk not knowing what the heck to write in this thing, I decided to do what will surely be a recurring theme to some extent. I referred to those who paved the way before me for support, by way of tapping into the Pacer newsletter archives. What started out as me reviewing past letters from the presidents quickly spiraled into me going down a rabbit hole of entertaining stories about some stellar runners. I had completely forgotten that we used to have runner profiles in the newsletter! From their running background and accomplishments, to a peek into their personal lives and what motivates them, with fun stories and memories sprinkled in, I couldn’t stop reading. I found each of them even more enjoyable now that I’ve gotten to know everyone better. If you’re new to the club or perhaps just want to get to know more about some of your fellow Pacer members, I highly suggest going back and reading through them. You may find some things that surprise you! We’re certainly not a boring bunch.  

Now down to business…

I’d like to send out a big “thank you” to Steve Maguire for doing such an outstanding job at being the “face” of this club and keeping us in line over the last few years. 

Over the course of my time as president, my goal is to expand upon the groundwork that has been laid before me, while implementing new ideas to keep the club fresh, relevant, and growing. I look forward to the opportunity to contribute and add my own stamp to the future of the club.

I’d like to thank those who are stepping away from their roles as officers and board members so that others can step up and contribute to the club in a leadership capacity. I am excited and confident that we have the right mix of new and veteran leadership to accomplish great things. To learn more about those changes, you’ll have to keep reading.

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. 

No photo description available.
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, 

Steve

No photo description available.

Letter from the President (May 2021)

by Steve Maguire

I’ve chiseled out some time and will attempt to fill in the gap since my last posting in the Pacer Newsletter. For a Gemini Irishman, you’d think I’d have this gift of gab and long list of topics. Two minutes on the web turns into ten, and I’m now shattered having learned that, of all the Zodiac signs, Gemini are the most disliked. Really missed on picking that rabbit hole to follow. Ideas come easily, and they can swirl in the mind for days; getting them out and remembering the path can be the long intense struggle of writer’s block. I think that’s also why I’m a fan of group runs.

Speaking of groups, if there was a way to tap the collective brain power when we’re all off crunching thoughts whilst engaged in some activity, we could solve world problems. Might be a concept for a road race to see if someone could get to the bottom of how much wood can a woodchuck chuck. I can attest, having tripped enough over rocks and roots, these tough questions would be best handled on the road.  

Speaking of road races, I hope you’ve caught some of the positive work being done by Dale Wiest, Evan Falk, Mike Whalen, and others as Race Mates. This April, for the last Shiver, the club was able to help 5-year-old Brantlee Phillips experience the thrill of a 5k through a partnership with IM ABLE, a bit of technology, and Dale’s unwavering commitment to the idea. There is so much potential to this partnership, and we hope others in the club will assist in growing and continuing the opportunities for adaptive athletes. Look for more details through Mike, Dale, and the club.  Next event up for the Race Mates is May 2nd out in Birdsboro, where personally I’m looking forward to participating.

Speaking of Birdsboro, how about visiting the scenic Rustic Park when the Chobot Challenge 15k comes up this May 16th. If you are looking for something shorter, you can test the waters (pun intended) with the 5k run or hike options. If you’re female and 29+, it might be a good place to win some hardware. I understand this trail race is a bit short now, for Gwyn Chobot, who just completed her first 50k in April. (Congrats Gwyn!) For many reasons, in addition to supporting the Sound Studio in Michael Chobot’s name at Penn State, this race is definitely one to support. 

Speaking of support, we were told there were no pictures captured from the recent chain saw training class at Blue Marsh. Fortunately, there were pants under the chaps this year. The western side of the ski loop is the section of trail the Pacers are committed to keeping clear, and the use of a chainsaw requires safety training from the Army Corps. When you see those fallen limbs cut miles from the nearest road, thank Mike Whalen and Brandon Bean.  

Speaking of the lake, Dan Govern, one of the Blues Cruise RDs, is actively working with the Corps on how financially we can support their mission. This is where the phrase “follow the money” comes in. At the most recent Wednesday night run, we started from the upper lot at the Stilling Basin and covered the 2 new sections of trail developed with the Corps and BAMBA working together. The section from the dam to the levy is about 2.5 miles of switchbacks with moderate climbs and descents. Many of our members are also bikers and BAMBA members, so hats off to all those involved in replacing and duplicating what was a cherished part of the lake trail that was lost to the installation of a waterline in 2019.  

Speaking of trails, the Horse-Shoe Trail continues to evolve and Shaun Luther and Larry Sundberg have been the face of the Pacers at some of the maintenance and trail-making days. For the Charlie Horse Half-Marathon, Shaun and Libby have been working out the final details with a few practice group runs being done this spring. It is a great course, slightly technical and challenging, similar to the prior version. Keep your plans clear and sign up early for Saturday, May 29 (Memorial Day weekend), for this Pacer event that supports Special Olympics.  

Speaking of the Olympics, a group of Pacers were able to enjoy a showing of the classic movie Chariots of Fire arranged by Larry Sundberg at the Goggle Works Theater. One of the night’s ticket holders walked away with the collector’s edition Blu-ray. (I suggest you don’t research what anniversary addition it was.) Polly, who seeded the idea, unfortunately was not able to attend as our Reading Knights were celebrating a State Championship basketball game. Adult beverages, soft seats, good friends–I think it was probably a good event that should be repeated. The movie celebrated an ageless battle of training, fortitude, sportsmanship, all leading up to the 1924 Olympics.

Speaking of ageless things, it was similar timing in 1926 when Hans Nolde, son of Jacob, started construction on the stone mansion and sawmill pond at Nolde State Forest. Nolde and Horst was a large hosiery company in Reading, which, coincidentally, made cushioned socks similar to our current running gear. The plant closed in the 50s, but you never know about the inventory. As Race Directors prepping for the Run for the Ages 10k held at Nolde on Sunday, June 27th, Donna Hey and Blair Hogg may have some surprises. Hopefully it’s a bigger gap this year over the younger runners and not old socks.  

Speaking of old socks, I’m happy it’s time to put the fleece lined pants away, and the wool socks that provided comfort working my corner at the Shiver Race Series. With each challenge, as the Pacers returned to in-person events, our Race Directors Sue Jackson, Georgine McCool, and Tiffany Pantoja adapted, communicated, and adjusted the Shiver Series. Their guidance focused on the safety of all involved, and the adapted series was a success. Thanks to all the volunteers who came out and helped this team shine.  

Speaking of … Well I’ve got one more thing and then I’m out of gab. We’re committed to having an in-person meeting May 13th. I’ve already purchased the beverages – more details to come. Thanks again to all of you who keep the wheels rolling on this ride and give so much back to the community.    

Got to go…time to run.

Steve

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.

Steve

Letter from the President (October 2020)

The political handling of the swine flu fiasco had elements of farce (Credit: Getty Images)

With a pandemic looming, the US president announced a warp-speed effort to vaccinate every man, woman, and child in the country. 

Pascal Imperato was waiting in line for his vaccine shot. So were the cameras.

It was around 10:30 in the morning on October 12th, and Imperato was at the Chelsea Health Clinic, an Art Deco building in the lower west side of Manhattan. The clinic was one of around 60 locations dotted around New York, preparing to vaccinate almost everyone in the city.

The President had ordered an unprecedented mass vaccination of everyone in the United States. As Imperato rolled up his sleeve, it was the first day of the effort in New York.

Imperato was deputy health commissioner and the chair of the task force charged with rolling out the program in the city, so he’d volunteered to be photographed for the newspapers as he got his shot. The mayor of New York City, when asked, had refused, so Imperato had stepped up. Turnout was strong across the city that morning.

But what was meant to be a ceremonial opening and positive public relations effort would turn sour. That week, the papers had begun reporting troubling news from vaccine clinics in Pittsburgh: three apparently unexplained deaths due to heart attacks.

“I remember that day. I remember it vividly,” recalls Imperato. “I saw those headlines on the subway. And I said, ‘Good God. All hell is breaking loose here.’”

The headlines would get worse. Two days later, the New York Post tabloid wrote of “The Scene at the Pennsylvania Death Clinic”, featuring emotional but almost certainly embellished tales: “One of the old people, 75-year old Julia Bucci, had winced at the hypodermic needle in her arm, had taken a few feeble steps, then dropped dead on the floor of the health station. Right in front of their eyes.”

The stories, it would turn out, were false and misleading. But it was just one of many problems that plagued the “swine flu affair of 1976”, when a US president decided to rush a vaccine to the entire American population based on ill-founded science and political imprudence.  Lawsuits, side-effects, and negative media coverage followed, and the events dented confidence in public health for years to come. 

from Richard Fisher’s “The Fiasco of the 1976 ‘Swine Flue Affair’

The above was taken from a September 20th article written by Richard Fisher, a senior journalist for BBC–well worth the entire read. Given this was some 40-plus years ago, it’s not something I recall, but a bit surreal given our current climate.   

More likely for that time my memory points to trying to jump sidewalk cracks with friends pretending we were Evil Knievel. Yep, while the government was proposing mass vaccination, we were awestruck by a Harley rider that jumped cars, vans, and buses. (Side note–the Evil Knievel toy is back, available via Amazon.)

Times have changed, and the world is decades smarter, bigger, and faster. The entire population of the US during the Spanish Flu (1918) is about the equivalent population added from 1976 to today. No wonder getting on a podium is tougher with 120 million more people.   

While we thought we’d be watching a sub 2-hour marathon in 2020, we are instead binge-watching reruns on Netflix. If you were unfortunate enough to catch the Presidential debate, I’d suggest before the next sparring match you might seek suggestions from friends and tee up something like the 2019 Backyard Ultra that follows our former local Maggie Guterl.   Watch it in advance so you can channel the amazing level of fortitude Maggie and many of our club’s ultra runners have exhibited at races, or save it for the broadcast moment to drift off to a different time or place.    

Hopefully we’ll get a race report from one of our ultra runners or pacers this month that attended Worlds End Ultra late this September. This is the site of a well-known aid station organized and supported by Pacer volunteers. The bonus would be something from Alan Cook, who’s an amazing crew chief and support for Elaine and others.   

About this time last year, I may have been commenting about ketchup and how its origin was Chinese and not tomato based. It was my segue into Blues Cruise that would have been the weekend of October 4th. Unfortunately, as we’ve communicated, both the State and the Army Corps have put restrictions in place that forced the cancelation of the event this year. Posted on the FB discussion page we have proposed a group fun run for the date which will cover various distances up to about half of the 50k course.  If you’re not on FB, please reach out to President@pagodapacers.com, and I will share the details. Watch for additional similar events through the fall. 

Getting in some long runs on the weekends might be the key to keep pace with Beth Kohl’s 130-mile October and the group of gluttons she’s encouraged to participate in this year’s Reading Hospital 2020 Virtual event. I’d encourage you to support the Friends of Reading Hospital who have supported the Pacers in the past and this year they are targeting funds to purchase a Mobile Mammography Coach. Try and say that three times fast. Ok, try once. Ok, just mumble.  

Breaking down 130 miles for the month, it’s only 4.2 miles per day, so I’d encourage you to join the Wednesday runs where 3-6 miles is an average night. Some will be there for fun and socializing, while others (aka me) might be there because otherwise we’d suffer Halloween because of procrastinating to month’s end. Our group run attendance has been good, considering, and the respect of COVID-related issues is being well observed. 

Our volunteer opportunities have been fewer this year, but we’re going to ask for your help Saturday, October 24th to support Tom Chobot and the running of the junior high cross country event. This is one of our give-back events, supporting the sport, coaches, parents, and the athletes themselves. Tom will fill in the details closer to the October 8th General Membership meeting. This is important, really important, for the kids that have had their world turned upside down. 

As a club, we’ve avoided the path of the virtual races, so we’ll need to come up with a catch phrase similar to “No-shave-November.” With your best Dutchie voice, how about, “No-Oley”? Lenny, Brandon, and a few others are working out the details to Strava-map the Oley 10 miler for a non-race event. You’ll have the month to run the course as often as plausible to achieve the best between fame, fortune, and accolades only a mother could share.

Polly Corvaia and Sue Jackson are moving forward with preparations for Kris Kringle and the Shiver series respectively, making adjustments and adopting best practices we’re learning as group races return. There will be limits to the participants and spectators, so sign up early and train often.

Financially the club remains on a path of prudence, and if you’ve read this far, the Board felt you should be rewarded. For the members in good standing going into 2021, the club is going to waive all membership fees. We will still solicit for new members and ask that they contribute the standard fees to join the worthy cause.   

Speaking of the Board, we’ll be having elections in the month of November, so stay tuned and watch for updates on how electronically we will be collecting applicants and votes. 

I’ll apologize now for the length and rambling of this letter along with the lack of content recently.  It’s a struggle to capture topics to write about when all you’re dreaming of is that new Evil Knievel toy heading to home.   

Got to wash my hands, put on my mask, and run.   

Steve

Letter from the President (June 2020)

by Steve Maguire

I’m not much of a complainer, but it is time for a gripe. This morning I turn on the PC and the pages are blank. What’s that about? Yes, there were a few beers last night, stories with friends, and the World problems had all been solved. I figured by now the newsletter would be done. Where’s the content, the poignant ramblings of our time? All I got is simply writer’s block.     

Yeah, yeah, happens to us all. You’re confused, doesn’t seem like much content, underwhelmed, can’t find it? So what’s the gripe? Well, recently I learned a little factoid that was shared on Berks County Open Mic. (FB Page well recommended). Seems a few years back, on a May night, a young 22-year-old found the record button and captured the riff of one of the great rock songs of the era. Some of you have probably slept with or at least dreamt about new running gear, so having a cassette recorder on your night stand and a guitar in your bed probably doesn’t appear that odd. Personally I know I’ve woken with the running shoes on, but that was miles into a race with thoughts of “this is a bad dream.” 

Just a few chords and a mumble was all that was captured on that tape. A moment of time frozen by tiny particles of iron suspended on plastic with the hope this alignment of effort held value in the future. Today we have software in the clouds capturing our movement such as Strava and Garmin to look back and memorialize those efforts. Similarly people have drawn with their routes, and participated in virtual challenges to share and support various goals. Big shout out to Brock Kline and Laura Yoder for some epic mileage challenges. Hope they added content to the newsletter. 

The club to date has avoided creating this new rage of “Virtual Races,” as we respect the guidelines of the RRCA to not add competing events to existing dates or where the activity level on routes would be increased. We, however, have stepped into the realm of virtual meetings first with the Race Directors, and then on May 14th with the entire club as a General Meeting. Thanks again to Karen Rule and Mike Whalen for their assistance. No segue, but I just opened a new package of coffee and will pause to enjoy the smell. Thanks, Jane. 

Around the time you’ll be reading this, our area will be moving into the “Yellow” phase. So what does that mean? Basically, my take is we’re all in a trial to see what sharing respect and not germs could look like. Wash your hands, pay attention to your circle, and if you’re sick–communicate and contain. Let’s get to the other side. If, as a society, we prove that adapted personal habits can influence the spread of the virus, we will move forward. 

As far as club races go, we’re holding out hope for Blues Cruise which we think, for various reasons, may be one of the best formats to work around the constraints prior events to date have fallen victim to. Race Directors Dan Govern and Mike Yoder have been working with the Army Corps and are proceeding cautiously with preparation for the Pacers’ next potential race.

There was concern at one point as the large spring races postponed to the fall would negatively influence participation in some of the Pacer events. With the Berlin and now Boston Marathon cancelling their fall dates, you can expect more of these big events will topple. For Boston that’s $200 million lost to their economy, and for the associated charities, it is something like $35 million. There is no crystal ball to the economic impact of the quarantine; however, the club continues to maintain a frugal approach to weather these rainy days. We intend, once stability returns, that as a club, the necessary discussions can occur as to how to assist the businesses and charities that have supported the Pacers in the past. For now, as individuals, we can think local, support local, and spend local. For instance, on June 5th, it looks like Fleet Feet and hopefully Chester County Running Store will open for more than curbside pickup.

If you’ve been on the trails, around the lake, or as many have shared on the Pacer Discussion Group FB page, Mother Nature is in her glory. If you look closely around the Justa Road area, even the gnomes are sprouting. (A shout out to the creative women of the club that may have planted them.) On the page recently you may also have seen a few Pink Flamingos. Seems Polly Corvaia and Karen Rule have a great sense of humor and have started a game of tag.   Possibly migration patterns may have started on the lawns of Barb Raifsnider and Mary and Patrick Boggs. These gestures bring smiles and encouragement to athletes like a high five or ring of a bell. 

Speaking of cow bells, there hasn’t been a race since the Shiver to annoy the neighbors, but the big one came out for a car parade which was part of the Wilson High School graduation of Sebastian Weiss, son of the proud parents Stephan and Linda Weiss.  On his way to Temple, Sebastian is one of the recipients of the Pacer Scholarships. It was a moving event as the streets lined en masse, similar to many of the road races to support these kids. They’re far from the finish line, but I’m not. 

So with finding the good things going on, what’s the gripe? Well, you see, some 55 years ago in May, that 22-year-old who has outlived every life expectancy woke the next morning to find he’d recorded 2 minutes of acoustic guitar which birthed “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”. And the rest is history. 

Time to quit typing, got to go, put on my mask, and wash my hands ……. Steve

Letter from the President (May 2020)

If you’re reading this now, I’ve squeezed in under the wire, and I’m busy celebrating La Fete du Muguet, the festival of the lily-of-the-valley. Of French origin, this celebration includes giving bouquets of lilies to loved ones, wishing them health and happiness. How timely and difficult as we continue on this path of Pennsylvania Quarantine life from around mid-March. Yes, there are parents who could recite the moment it all began.

We’re going to get to the other side of this and have the greatest discussion of hindsight ever documented. At this moment, however, there is some elder going rhino, hippo, and what the hell is a hypotenuse. Add the algebra questions and solving for zero and that’s only middle school. This is going to push some to drink. Tequila, I say, as we’re only days away from Cinco-de-Mayo. The late Mayans from Central America would tell us: “Don’t trust visitors!” That Spanish sailor, so friendly, Jolly-Jack I’ll call him, probably had no understanding of the reach of his actions as he unwittingly spread small pox with a more deadly outcome than the worst bottom shelf bottle of Cuervo could deliver. 

Jolly-Jack only had his friend Portly-Pete and Captain Bob in his group of friends that he felt knew anything about the ways of life. Over many a beer, they shared tales of ports, fish, and women, some they hooked, some they spoiled, and some happy never to see them again. The outcome of his actions reflected what little they knew could be communicated at the time. 

Our Race Directors, however, through the use of technology provided by Mike Whalen, recently shared their combined knowledge (and that of our RRCA insurance) to stay current with the potential expectations to organize a running event. Donna Hey, as the Race Director for Run for the Ages (6/28), has put all spending on hold, similar to the steps of the Charlie Horse RDs, and recently shut down the signups for the event. Early May will provide some insight to how the state, county, and Nolde Environmental Center will view the gathering of 400+ participants, but it does not look good. We do expect all races organized by the club will be “no frills” if and when they do occur. The reality that the Berlin Marathon already cancelled a September 27th date does not bode well for large running events. Boston today is about 20 weeks out for a 9/14 rescheduled date, which has a host of implications where participants can’t run a race, prior to a race, to qualify for race, for a race that may not occur. 

With all the big races that have been postponed and moved to the fall, it is yet to be seen how this will impact races such as Blues Cruise in October or Oley in November. The smaller races may be viewed to participants as more manageable and nimble to the conditions of the time.  With the green light to start organizing again, will come the training to our volunteers on best practices, what we can provide, and what becomes the “new normal”.   The food spreads of our regionally know festive aid stations may be put on the back burner for a bit. This is not a time our club needs to be the leader.  

Remember Jolly-Jack? Well, he could tell a tale of the biggest fish. Spread your arms wide as you may, but Jack’s was bigger. (Size matters.) Under the stars, as they crossed the vast ocean from Spain, Jack told of great battles with detail where you could almost see the shimmer as the fish jumped in the distance. The coxswain, quiet in shadows, had tales closer to his heart.  You see without boast he did the work, honed his skills, and found challenge while the boat was in port. Call this his virtual fishing trip.

The solo events are not new; however, they have become an organized outlet to challenge, motivate, and set goals while the physical distancing is in place. Who would have thought the Big Dog Backyard Ultra could be executed globally as a virtual race with participants running 4.2 miles every hour until……  Yes: Michael Wardian went 63 hours and felt the race shouldn’t have ended at 264 miles. Check the FB page out, as it’s worth seeing the runners that used treadmills, coffee shops, and even a frozen lake as their course. In more sane distances, we’ve seen many of the Pagoda Pacers participate in similar virtual events, and some were willing to share in this newsletter. 

So why don’t the Pagoda Pacers organize a virtual race? At least from my eyes, let’s head back to the Spanish fleet and reference Captain Bob. You see one of the Dutch Uncles (everybody know that phrase?), let’s call him Sheldon (aka, RRCA), suggested some guidelines early in this quagmire that stepping on the toes of other races wasn’t akin to the best interest of the whole.

Many races are planned well in advance, and there wasn’t a clear understanding when to cancel and how large the impact would become. What they have instructed, to be fair, was to respect your dates, and if you had a race and wanted to convert to something virtual, that was reasonable. They didn’t support new events taking participants others needed simply to survive or break even. So what about something new or random we pose to Captain Bob, Jack’s buddy. In the harshest of seafaring cursing, he’ll tell ya don’t do nut’n that brings more boats to a fish’n hole. Anybody that runs Nolde, Grings, Blue Marsh, and Neversink will tell you that the last thing we needed to encourage is more people to get on common roads and trails. 

Times are changing, and the next 3 weeks of May will bring some insight to how the state will open back up and what the economy will look like.  Personally I’ve seen an outpouring to those that work in the health field and the admiration of being on the front line, but let us not forget those with tremendous financial cuts, lost wages, and possibly jobs not there to return to. If you have a free dime, give it, spend it, and share it locally. Thankfully the club is healthy as the membership has done a prudent job of cost containment and preparing for a rainy day.   

Soon it will be time for the group to band together, organize, and encourage athletic activity simply to help the community reach a new normal. This is our mission statement: not a race, not a singular event, but a culture. 

Time to quit typing–got to go put on my mask and wash my hands ……. Steve