This week’s positive national news about breakthrough vaccines has offered a badly needed ray of hope.
Locally, here’s another way to put the forgettable 2020 in the rearview mirror: The Bucks 5K Series will be returning in 2021.
The popular compendium of races was forced to postpone its 25th anniversary celebration earlier this year due to the pandemic.
But while positive cases for COVID-19 continue to surge both around the country and here in Bucks County, Bucks 5K race officials remain confident that taking the proper safety measures will ensure healthy events.
Race director Dick Patterson says all precautions will be in place and adherence to guidelines followed.
Last week, the series committee met and made the decision to proceed.
“The big question is the form it will take,’’ Patterson wrote in an email. “It looks like it may be a combination of virtual and live races. Our next meeting is early December. I’m hoping we can sort it out then.’’
Right now, the schedule looks pretty much the way it has in the past, with the exception of the Cornerstone 5K, which will not be run this year due to the closing of the facility in Warrington.
“There will be six 5Ks,’’ Patterson said. “And that includes Johnny King-Marino’s Break-fast 10K/5K.’’
Here is the tentative schedule for the 2021 Bucks 5K Series:
>March 27: **Blaze of Glory 5K**, 9:30 a.m.
>April 24: **Bookin’ for Lookin’ 5K**, 8 a.m.
>May 16: **YMCA Bucks County Strong 5K**, 9:30 a.m.
>May 29: **Doylestown 5K**, 9:30 a.m.
>June 5: **Chalfont Challenge 5K,** 8:30 a.m.
>June 20: **Breakfast 10K-5K,** 8:30 a.m.
For more information, visit www.bucks5kseries.com. Best wishes for a safe set of competitions.
Running can break the smoking habit: This past April marked the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, founded on the idea that a healthy global environment makes the world a safer place to live.
That same year, the Great American Smokeout took shape to get people to stop using tobacco.
The tradition will continue this week on Thursday, Nov. 19.
According to the American Cancer Society, the seed was planted in a tiny event up in Massachusetts.
The idea for the Great American Smokeout grew from a 1970 event in Randolph, Massachusetts, at which Arthur P. Mullaney asked people to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money they would have spent on cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund.
Then, in 1974, Lynn R. Smith, editor of the Monticello Times in Minnesota, spearheaded the state’s first D-Day, or Don’t Smoke Day.
The idea caught on, and on Nov. 18, 1976, the California Division of the American Cancer Society got nearly 1 million people who smoke to quit for the day.
That California event marked the first official Smokeout, and the American Cancer Society took it nationwide in 1977. Since then, there have been dramatic changes in the way the public views tobacco advertising and tobacco use. Many public places and work areas are now smoke-free – this protects non-smokers and supports people who smoke who want to quit.
The numbers say programs such as this have been somewhat successful.
ACS points out that 42 percent of the American population smoked in 1965. By 2019, that number had dropped to 13.7 percent.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bucks County comes in just under the national average at 13.1 percent.
Still, there’s a lot of work to be done.
There are 32 million Americans puffing away out there and that accounts for approximately 480,000 deaths per year, far more than what the COVID-19 pandemic would have caused if projected out over a full year in 2020.
One way to persuade people to stop smoking is to get them involved in a healthy exercise program. You can take patches and gums until the cows come home, but if there isn’t a complete lifestyle change, most of those short-term fixes won’t work.
If you have a family member or friend who still smokes, show them this checklist from www.smokefree.gov:
>Studies show that even short periods of physical activity, especially aerobic exercise, reduce the urge to smoke. Aerobic exercise is physical activity that makes you sweat, causes you to breathe harder, and gets your heart beating faster. It strengthens your heart and lungs. Running, walking, swimming, dancing, cycling, and boxing are a few types of aerobic exercise.
>Withdrawal symptoms and cravings for cigarettes decrease during exercise and up to 50 minutes after exercising.
>Exercise decreases appetite and helps limit the weight gain some people have when they quit smoking.
>Exercise helps you cope with stress and have more energy.
>Exercise can improve your mood. If you’re feeling low, do something physical, like running up and down stairs.
Like running guru Dr. George Sheehan once said: “You don’t need a treadmill, all you need is a three-story house and a bad memory.’’
Delaware River Loop Series 14-Miler, 8 a.m., Titusville, N.J. (Washington Crossing parking lot). Contact www.runsignup.com