Bookin’ for Lookin’ 5K returning ‘live’ to again help the blind

Mark McCowan, shown here training with guide dog, Arlo, has competed in multiple marathons and half-marathons (Photo by McCowan Family).
      So with a blind person such as Mark McCowan, what is the most difficult task?
      >A) Running a marathon.
      >B) Directing the return of the “Bookin’ for Lookin’ 5K.
      >C) Changing a diaper on your toddler, Bodi, at home while your wife, Stacy, is away at work.
      >D) None of the above.
      The answer is “D’’ because Mark is equally adept at all three.
      Yes, Mark continues to amaze family and friends alike with his extraordinary skills.
      Perhaps most noteworthy at the moment is his leadership for bringing back a live version of the Bookin’ for Lookin’ race, part of the popular Bucks 5K Series, on Saturday, April 24.
      Through the efforts of Mark and his staff, the event has raised more than $60,000 over the years and much of the funds go toward the training of guide dogs.
      As some of you may have read in this column some five years ago, Stacy Rosenthal signed on to be a running guide for Mark and the two hit it off almost right away. They ran the trails of Tyler State Park and eventually finished the Philadelphia and New York City marathons together.
      The two fell in love, got married and had their son, Bodi, almost two years go. Things are going great and Mark is feeling particularly excited these days because one year after Bookin’ for Lookin’ was reduced to a virtual race due to the COVID pandemic, the event is back in a live version.
      Early registration for the race has been strong, with the McCowans expecting upwards of 250 runners out of a usual field of 300.
      “We were going back and forth last year whether we should have it (live),’’ Mark said in a telephone call. “We were all disappointed.
      “But this year, there’s a sense of excitement. Like when you as a runner are told you can’t run or participate in a race, it’s frustrating after a while. As a director and part of the Bucks 5K Series, I said, ‘let’s go for it.’ Things will change for the better.’’
      The race has been moved out of Newtown Borough for this one year and will be headquartered at Council Rock High School North for health and safety reasons. It will start and finish on the track.
      “We decided to play it safe and go back to the high school,’’ Mark said. “It’s more open and a lot more parking.’’
      Mark’s guide dog, Arlo, comes from the program which, in part, receives funds by way of Bookin’ for Lookin’.
      “I look at it as how can I improve and raise awareness for those who are looking into getting a sighted dog,’’ Mark said. “Or even helping in process of raising a guide dog so that when they go to the trainer, a dog already has a bunch of skill sets and the trainer can just expound on those skill sets.’’
      One of those dogs, named Maximus, is doing real well with his training. To see the finished product is quite rewarding for race organizers.
      McCowan hopes to have five sight-challenged runners and their dogs take part in the April race.
      On a personal level, the McCowans have a wonderful relationship.
      “We have 20 races (including multiple marathons and half-marathons) under our belts in 20 different states,’’ Mark said. “We both loved the Louisville half and full (marathon). . .the people, the food, the view of the (Ohio) River.’’
      Mark does some races with the Achilles Club and some by himself. Either way, the support from the crowds is awesome.
      “There are times during the race when out of nowhere, I’ll just scream, ‘How’s everybody doing?’ It’s exciting. I’ll yell just to get the energy more positive.
      “I’m not afraid to embarrass myself.’’
      Stacy, who oversees the Council Rock library system, says when it comes to running, the couple can stay in step much easier than when they first met.
      “There are times we are so in sync, I’ll forget to tell him to turn,’’ she said with a chuckle. “I’m just so used to him being around.
      “In terms of everyday life, when we first had our son it was an adjustment. He found a method that worked for him. We figured it out.’’
      That included taking care of Bodi while she was away.
      “He’s done it on numerous occasions by himself,’’ Stacy said. “But he’s exhausted when I get home. He has to figure out where a toddler is running off to.
      “I’m fully confident leaving the two of them alone together. When we contemplated kids, I said, ‘Look, at the end of the day, all that kid needs to know is that he or she is loved.’+’’
      The McCowans even downhill ski together, sometimes at Blue Mountain or Spring Mountain in the Poconos.
      She pitches in to help with the race, too.
      “Everyone is running for the camaraderie,’’ she said. “Runners are good people, they’re going to follow the necessary precautions. Wear a mask at start and finish, keep a distance. I’m not scared at all. The Winter Series adjustments were wonderful and I wouldn’t expect anything less.’’
      For more on Bookin’ for Lookin’ 5K, visit the website www.bookinforlookin.com.
      >Grilled Cheese/Tomato Soup
      The annual Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup 4-Miler was held at Washington Crossing Historic Park last Sunday. Here are some results:
      >Overall
      Top 3 females
1.  Elizabeth Campbell, 27, 28:05; 2. Ana Brown, 13, 28:36; 3.Marianna Schreiner, 26, 28:48
      Top 3 males
      1. Justin S Brown, 17, 22:01; 2, Matthew Brown, 30, 25:42; 3. Oscar Mailman, 17, 26:22.
      >Age groups
      >Female 1-19: Nyla Hamburg, 47:07.
      >Male 1-19: Keith Brown, 28:54.
      >Female 20-29: Hannah Moloshok, 39:06.
      >Male 20-29: Evan Hopkins, 38:03.
      >Female 30-34: Becky Ginther, 35:30.
      >Male 30-34: Mark Sneidman, 31:35.
      >Female 35-39: Theresa Gagliardi, 29:24.
      >Male 35-39: Steven Bearer, 32:38.
      >Female 40-44: Marisa Rowlson, 32:28.
      >Male 40-44: Wesley Celestino, 30:41.
      >Female 45-49: Zoe Blair, 29:55.
      >Male 45-49: Doug Johnson, 30:57.
      >Female 50-54: Thelma Emano, 30:14.
      >Male 50-54: Tony Pereira, 29:18.
      >Female 55-59: Lisa Kuliczkowski, 31:00.
      >Male 55-59: Daniel Burke, 27:19.
      >Female 60-64: Lauren Siegel, 34:57.
      >Male 60-64: Sean Hopkins, 34:30.
      >Female 65-69: Judith Hudson, 35:59.
      >Male 65-69: Ross Schriftman, 39:30.
      >Female 70-and above: Claire Jefferis, 48:32.
      >Male 70-and-above: Paul Lucuski, 42:18.
      Race calendar
      Saturday
      Looney Leprechaun Trail Races 10K/5K, Tyler State Park, Newtown. Contact www.runsignup.com
About Wayne Fish 1464 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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