There are finisher medals and then there are “Holy Cow, I can’t believe I actually ran 100K this winter’’ finisher medals.
The latter type are the newest innovation for the 42nd annual Bucks County Roadrunners Club Winter Series, held each year at Tyler State Park in Newtown.
The new medals are a way of recognizing those who show up each week for the dozen races, an achievement award if you will.
No doubt some of their proud owners will put them on the same shelf with that marathon trophy and age-group award.
The series start is just a month away and some 300-plus runners are gearing up for another winter of hills and thrills through the paved trails of Tyler (with the exception of the “wild card’’ race which is run partly off-road).
“Basically, the series overall is just over 100K of races,’’ says Winter Series director John O’Brien. “You don’t have to finish over 100K but those who qualify for awards will qualify for a medal.’’
Here is the 2019-20 schedule. All races start at 9 a.m. with the exception of the Cham-Pain race on Jan. 1 (New Year’s Day). That one starts at 12 noon:
> Dec. 8: Informal Run
> Dec. 15: Covered Bridge 5K
> Dec. 22: Jingle Bell 5.3-Miler.
> Jan. 1: Cham-Pain 5K
> Jan. 5: Wild Card
> Jan. 12: Tyler 10K Challenge
> Jan. 19: Polar Bear 8-Miler
> Jan. 26: Honest Abe 4.6-Miler
> Feb. 2: Terrible Tyler 15K
> Feb. 9: Pick Your Way 5.3-Miler
> Feb. 16: EMMM Half-Marathon
> Feb. 23: Staggered Start 4.6-Miler
The Roadrunners are encouraged by the number of participants in the Winter Series.
“The biggest thing fueling the series is that people get out when they normally don’t get out,’’ O’Brien says. “People usually want to stay in for the winter but now they get to get out and run in various pace groups.
“As more younger people get out and they spread out, they continue to bring more people because people find a common running partner. Someone who can run their speed and they can meet every week and tough it out (against winter conditions).’’
The social aspects of the Winter Series are what make it special. There’s a weekly food-fest in the Tyler Pavilion after the races – giving runners a chance to meet with their friends and compare notes.
Plus, the WS is a great way to keep your conditioning up between the fall racing season and the start of a new racing year in the spring.
“After November, marathon season is winding down and people are kind of going in the house to hibernate for the winter,’’ O’Brien said. “The series pulls you back out to continue running. You can keep a base mileage up and you can see everybody.’’
O’Brien says the Covered Bridge 5K is quite popular because it’s introducing everybody to the “brutal’’ hills.
“Those hills can be of help if you’re running Boston (Marathon),’’ O’Brien says. “I’ve run on those hills for marathon training and once I’ve done those, I’m ready for anything.’’
The BCRR does put on some other big races, such as the 5-miler in Langhorne on Thanksgiving morning but the Winter Series has always been the cornerstone on the schedule.
“It’s been around almost since Day 1 (1978),’’ O’Brien says.
For membership information, visit the club’s website at www.bcrrclub.com.
You can also get the latest race-day weather information at the club website.
Although few races are ever canceled, really bad weather can create slippery, hazardous conditions. So if that’s the case, O’Brien gears down the event to a non-competitive run if conditions prevent top-speed racing.
That information is also available through Twitter and Facebook.
The series is a great way for the whole family to get involved in running.
“Family-wise,’’ says O’Brien, “I have races now where the (individual) directors are father-daughter, husband-wife,’’
So head on over to Tyler on Sunday mornings and find out what all the fuss is about.
Delaware Canal Half-Marathon, 10 a.m., Washington Crossing. Contact www.runbucks.com
Langhorne American Legion Veteran’s Day 5K, Langhorne. Contact www.runsignup.com
Rachel’s Rugged Pumpkin Run 3K, 9 a.m., Doylestown. Contact www.runtheday.com
Bucks County Marathon, 9 a.m., Washington Crossing Contact www.runbucks.com
The 5K Run at 5 Ponds, 9 a.m., Warminster. Contact www.runsignup.com
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