If local road racing needed to begin its comeback on the right foot, last Saturday was the perfect day for it.
The Bookin’ for Lookin’ 5K in Newtown had it all: A great turnout, ideal weather conditions, a very worthwhile charity beneficiary (helping those with sight challenges) and a safe, well-organized event.
It was a great way to kick off racing in Lower Bucks County for 2021.
Some races were held in 2020 but those were conducted under the cloud of the pandemic, which took some of the spirit out of the competition.
But when more than 250 people got ready to run at Council Rock High School North, there was excitement in the air.
And by 10 a.m., when everyone had completed the 3.1-mile course on the school track at Walt Snyder Stadium, there were smiles all around.
This was what a lot of people have been waiting for and race director Mark McCowan, who ran the distance with the help of a guide as well as a guide dog, put together a model for others to measure themselves against.
Mark and his wife, Stacy, are members of the Bucks County Roadrunners Club and the BCRR showed its support by fielding an official team of more than 30 runners. In all, an estimated 50 BCRR members ran in the race.
Perhaps now, with so many people getting vaccinated, runners can begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
There are already plans in the works to bring back several classic races this fall, including the Broad Street Run 10-Miler and the revival of the Philadelphia Distance Run.
If those go as well as the Bookin’ for Lookin’ 5K did, things should be in good shape.
The BFL is part of the Bucks 5K Series and no doubt a number of runners in the race were participants in other races on the schedule.
Joe Boyce helped organize the BCRR contingent and said all the runners getting together in a safe way was gratifying to see.
Runners were brought to the starting in four separated chutes and released at 10-second intervals. Everything was done with chip timing and everyone seemed comfortable with that arrangement.
“It was well spread out the whole way,’’ Boyce said. “It was really well organized. Mark and all the volunteers did a great job.’’
The course wove through Tyler State Park along paved trails and allowed for proper spacing.
“There were people at every turn,’’ Boyce said. “It’s great to race again. Next year will be their 10th annual and hopefully we’ll have more on our team then.’’
Veteran runner Tom Fuoco has done more than his share of races over the years and would be hard-pressed to find one more meaningful than this one was.
“Very organized,’’ Fuoco noted. “All people had masks on at the start when you were near groups. Very safe, very well-run.
“I felt safe the whole time and it was a treat to actually get out and race instead of just practice like we’ve doing for the last year and a half.’’
Fuoco said helping sight-challenged people only adds to the pleasure. There were at least five such runners who took part in the race and they all received big ovations as they entered the stadium for the final few hundred meters.
“It’s wonderful,’’ Fuoco said. “It’s great to just be racing again but to be supporting a great organization like Bookin’ for Lookin’ is really tremendous.’’
Like Boyce and Fuoco, Jim Larson was anticipating this race for quite some time.
“I really liked it,’’ Larson said. “It opened up really quickly so you weren’t like a crowd at the beginning.
“There were a lot of volunteers so it would have been difficult to get off course. And the ending on the track was really nice.’’
Larson said participating for a cause with a local connection makes it that much better.
And hopefully this is a sign that things are getting better in the racing community as the pandemic appears to be winding down.
“It’s really inspiring when you see Mark running tethered to his partner,’’ Larson said.
“I saw a lot of people from the club I hadn’t seen for a while. I think it did show we’re starting to head back toward normal. A lot of people are getting vaccinated so I think we’re getting there.’’
14th annual Massaroni Memorial Color Derby 1-Miler, 9:15 a.m., Bensalem. Contact www.runsignup.com
Sunday, May 9
Cousins for Carol 5K, 9 a.m., Southampton. Contact www.runsignup.com