While the latest COVID variant might make this winter feel a lot like last winter, the Bucks County Roadrunners Club is racing ahead with a positive attitude.
The local speedsters’ Winter Series, which dates back to the late ‘70s, has been drawing encouraging numbers and bringing back its famous post-race food spreads, albeit in a safe, cautious manner.
Fields for each race at Tyler State Park in Newtown have averaged around 200-250, which is pretty much the maximum during this pandemic period. The spirit level is high as runners get a chance to congregate in a welcomed social environment.
“People are happy to be out there,’’ said Winter Series race director John O’Brien as the 12-race schedule reached its halfway point this week. “I guess the big thing is the food is back and being more of a social thing.’’
What better way to celebrate a completed 15K over Tyler’s challenging hills than with a steaming hot bowl of oatmeal while chatting with friends?
“It’s a lot different than last year when we encouaged people to just get out of your car, run the race and then get back in your car and go home,’’ O’Brien said. “This year all the food stuff is back in place. We take precautions – the people who hand out the food are gloved and masked.’’
Directing the food distribution are Kirubasankar Thangapandi, Lisa Kall and Neil Brown.
Helping the situation has been a cooperative weather pattern – at least up to now. You never know what’s going to happen the next month or so, Punxsutawney Phil not withstanding. To date, there has not been a heavy snow or, worse, ice event to force a postponemnt or cancellation.
“The weather has been good so far,’’ said O’Brien. “There have been some cold days, like this past Sunday, but the numbers have been good considering all the COVID going around.’’
In the Series competition, men’s defending champion Jamie Gray has been running well. Another name to keep an eye on is Nick Accardo, son of Bucks County Triathlon Club boss Anthony Accardo.
Among the women, long distance star Justyna Wilson has returned to action and been among the leaders.
BCRR Winter Series is blessed with veteran leadership, including club president Johhny King-Marino along with Bill Schaffling, Rich Kanak and Joe Boyce.
“The big thing is we’re close to normal again,’’ O’Brien said. “We’re able to talk again after races. We still try to keep distances.’’
While plans haven’t been finalized yet, there is hope of having some sort of Winter Series celebration/awards ceremony. Bringing back the traditional dinner in March might be a possibility, pending health conditions.
Once again, the club has put forth a great effort and deserves a well-earned tip of the hat.
>Izewski stars at Houston
A few weeks ago we wrote about Josh Izewski and his quest to improve already fast times at the national level.
Well, at last Sunday’s Houston Marathon, the Doylestown native did just that, completing the 26.2-mile course in a blazing time of 2:12.45, good enough for eighth place overall.
The Central Bucks East High School graduate’s next big race is the Boston Marathon. The 31-year-old Izewski, who competed in the 2020 USA Men’s Olympic Marathon Trials, has stated his goal is to run a 2:10 and it appears he’s headed in that direction.
Also at Houston, Tony Pereira of Newtown continued his recent strong running with a time of 3:36.59.
Congratulations to both on excellent performances.
Bucks County Roadrunners Winter Series Polar Bear 8-Miler, Tyler State Park, Newtown. Contact www.bcrrclub.com