It doesn’t matter how noble the intentions of any particular race are right now, COVID-19 treats them all the same.
The Bucks County Duathlon, which was about to celebrate its 11th annual running on Sunday of Labor Day weekend, has found itself no exception to the rule.
With the pandemic making it impossible to predict health conditions in September, race officials decided to call off this year’s race and concentrate on bringing it back for the same weekend in 2021.
It’s a disappointment to say the least.
Most of the proceeds from the race go to assist Missy Flynn, the former world-class triathlete who survived a life-threatening brain aneurysm in 2005.
The BCD and preceding events have raised more than $100,000 for the cause.
Flynn’s life partner, Brian Wong, understands why the race had to be canceled and was pleased to learn it will return, in a safer environment, next year.
“The important thing is that everyone stays healthy,’’ Wong said, “ so the duathlon has to pause this year. We’re keeping Missy safe by isolating at home. It’ll be great when we can go out again and see all of our friends at next year’s race. Thanks for sticking with us, and we’ll see you soon.’’
On average, more than 100 multi-sport athletes take part each year in the BCD, which features a two-mile run, 10-mile bike and two-mile run (plus a separate 8K Challenge) in and around Washington Crossing Historic Park.
Ironically, a big section of the bike course on Stoneybrook Road had just been repaved and no doubt would have led to faster times this year.
But at least that’s something to look forward to next year.
Brian Donnelly, a friend of Missy and Brian and a faithful volunteer for the race, said helping out does something for the greater good among friends.
“I was very sorry to hear about the cancellation,’’ Donnelly said. She and Brian are such incredible people that our reaching out to help them raises our community up. I guess it’s knowing your efforts as a volunteer or participant are helping someone, a great someone, lead a better life is gratifying.’’
Mike Clarke, Ron Jones and Eric Stern all serve as course monitors for the duathlon’s two run segments and the 8K Challenge along the Delaware Canal towpath.
The duties entail getting up quite early, then standing in one place for hours to make sure everyone is safe and headed in the right direction.
“It’s disappointing,’’ Clarke said. “But this setback will serve as an impetus for those supporters, volunteers, and participants to continue the work in assisting Brian and Missy.’’
Added Jones: “Not only is it sad that we have a stay-at-home policy due to the pandemic but now one of the best-run events is canceled for 2020. This event provides much needed assistance to Missy and gives the participants an opportunity to use all the skills and endurance developed in the many hours of training. I’m sure that everyone will be back to support the event in 2021.’’
Stern was one of the early organizers of the event and continues to play a crucial role overseeing the run course.
“I’m sorry to hear the duathlon is canceled for this year,’’ Stern said. “I hope it comes back bigger and stronger for next year. The unfortunate part is how much it affects Brian and Missy. Having gotten to know them through this event I know how appreciative they are of everyone’s efforts and how much they will miss not having an event this year.’’
Efforts are being made to continue support for the Newtown couple.
Those who wish to make a donation can do so by visiting the race website at www.buckscountyduathlon.org and using the app on the opening page.
Or, checks can be made out to “Bucks County Duathlon’’ and mailed to Newtown Bike Shop, 32 North State Street, Newtown, Pa. 18940.
Race co-director Harry Betz remains optimistic that things will continue to improve and allow for the BCD to return next year.
“On a brighter note I’ve seen more people walking, running and cycling than ever before,’’ Betz said. “Many more people realizing that the simple pleasure of getting outside in the fresh air is a good thing. Heck, maybe we’ll get some ‘newbies’ for the duathlon next year.’’