The pandemic got off to a fast start but the Bucks 5K Series showed superior endurance and reached the finish line first in the race to determine a return to normalcy.
Some 400 swift striders showed up for the series finale, the Break-Fast 5K/10K, on Sunday in Doylestown and from all the smiles around the post-race area, it was clear who took this competition.
All the safety precautions, vaccinations and overall awareness by the public in general have teamed up to make conditions safe once again.
For some 25 years, the popular 5,000-meter series has been a mainstay on the local racing scene. While COVID-19 forced the event into a restricted virtual format in 2020, things improved greatly in 2021.
Four of the six races were held live and all had a virtual component this time around.
The Series expects to have all six fully live for 2022.
“It (the season-ender) was really outstanding, considering the temperature (90s with high humidity),’’ said long-time race director Dick Patterson. “We had five new course records for the 5K and seven for the 10K.
“Amazing, considering how hot and humid it was. But the runners really responded.’’
Much like all the Bucks County runners who battle adverse conditions the opposite temperature way in the BCRR Winter Series, these athletes refused to be denied.
Back in April and May, the Bucks 5K folks took all the necessary safety precautions to ensure everyone’s health.
Then, as things began to open up, so did restrictions. Event officials followed government protocols.
“I had so many runners come up to me afterwards and say, ‘thank you, thank you, thank you’ for reopening this series and having the live races,’’ Patterson said. “I think the safety precautions really did help.’’
Staggered starts in races such as Blaze of Glory and Bookin’ for Lookin’ proved quite popular. With chip timing, there is proper spacing at the start line for correct social distancing. And, it allows runners to hit full speed right out of the gate rather than the usual 30-second delay for the pack to get moving.
“It was really back to normal on Sunday,’’ Patterson reiterated. “I think there was a pent-up demand for runners to get back to normal. Just get out and do it.’’
In the overall standings for the Series, Katie Kinkead and Stephanie Savastano tied for the women’s open title, followed by Kira Logiovine in third.
The masters champion was Ann Krisher, with second to Gert Freas and third to Amy Bignault.
On the men’s side, Steve Gourley won the open crown, with Matthew Brown second and Joe Holton third.
Bob Boland breezed to the masters championship, with Christoph Stannik second and Dave Broadbent third.
Boland, Kinkead, Krisher and Freas all topped the coveted 80 percent age-graded mark in various races, putting them in national rank status.
Since its inception in 1995, the total money raised by the Bucks 5K Series for local non-profits is approaching $2 million.
Patterson reports all the race sponsors stayed on board during this challenging two-year period. That includes title sponsor Advanced Spine and Sports Chiropractic, along with Fred Beans Auto, Marvic Supply, Marshall Financial and Bucks County Orthopedic Specialists.
Also chipping in are Delaware Valley College, Doylestown Urgent Care, Jarrett-Vaughn, Penn Community Bank, the Bucks County Roadrunners Club, Mind Your Design, Bagel Barrel and Planet Smoothie.
Next year’s schedule is already out, so local racing really has turned a corner.
“There’s no hesitation now,’’ Patterson said. “Our finances are really strong. All our sponsors stayed and many runners who signed up last year donated their money or deferred their money to this year. They were very generous.’’
The Bucks 5K Series wants to acknowledge the contributions of Kris Boger, who handles all the website content plus photography. Freas oversees all communications.
“The enthusiasm, the way the runners have responded, it’s inspiring,’’ Patterson said. “It makes you realize how great running people are. When you talk about a community of runners, it truly is a community.’’
For more information, visit www.bucks5kseries.com. Congratulations to everyone involved for helping to bring racing back to the “good old days.’’
Sunday, July 4
One Nation Four on the Fourth Four-Miler, 8:30 a.m., Northampton Community Park, Churchville. Contact www.runsignup.com