Major races returning to spring generate excitement

Newtown's Courtney Woodfield ran her first Boston Marathon last year. PHOTO credit: Contributed.
      At first glance, having spring races return to their traditional dates might not seem like that big a deal.
      But just step into the starting line crowd at major events such as the Broad Street Run and the Boston Marathon this year and you will feel some rather robust levels of energy.
      Say what you want about having these nationally popular competitions in the fall (as they were in 2021 due to the pandemic) being nothing to moan about – bottom line is, there’s just some extra excitement when, after a long winter, the weather begins to warm and hope fills the air.
      Bucks County runners say they’re feeling positive about races like the Love Run Philadelphia Half-Marathon coming back to their rightful place on the calendar.
      Langhorne’s Peter Lederer, who has broken the three-hour mark on a number of occasions at Boston, welcomes going back to the original April schedule date.
      “I’m looking forward to returning to a mostly normal Boston Marathon in the spring,’’ said Lederer, who is planning to extend his consecutive Boston streak to 18 straight finishes. “It really feels like the beginning of a new season each year. After training in the toughest winter months, the weather starts to turn and Boston kicks off the spring running season.’’
      While this winter has had its inclement stretches, there hasn’t been a tremendous amount of snow/ice to deal with and runners can usually find a way to deal with the elements barring a real nasty blizzard.
      Newtown’s Courtney Woodfield has been training on the roads during all sorts of weather and now gets ready to run her second Boston this April.
      “This year is the 50th anniversary of the first woman (Katherine Switzer) to appear in the race, so I feel extra privileged for the opportunity to run Boston this April,’’ said Woodfield, who looks to better her personal record of 3:20. “Having Boston to train for has definitely made the cold, dark winter running mornings more tolerable, knowing there is a big spring race to look forward to this year.’’
      Apparently a lot of elite racers feel the way Lederer and Woodfield do because the level of competition is billed as really high this year.
      “Boston is reportedly fielding its fastest elite men’s and women’s fields this spring,’’ Woodfield said. “It is exciting to think that while I won’t see them, we will be racing on the same course as the best in the world.’’
      As for the Broad Street Run, the Philadelphia fall racing schedule already has the Philadelphia Distance Run (half-marathon) and Philadelphia Marathon on it, so getting BSR back to its first week in May spot sort of spreads the wealth.
      Levittown native Joe Boyce said he intends to go back to his regular training build-up prior to Broad Street. That includes completing the Bucks County Roadrunners Winter Series, the Hot Chocolate 15K on April 2 and the Bucks 5K Series Bookin’ for Lookin’ 5K on April 23.
      “Broad Street is a prime example of things returning to a new normal,’’ Boyce said. “It was pushed back to the fall due to the pandemic but now it’s back to its rightful place. I ran it in October, and it’s fun having the quick turnaround to do it again in May.’’
      The Kiwanis-Herald Sesame Place Classic 5K was canceled both in 2020 and 2021 but will return on May 15 for its 22nd edition.
      Newtown’s Tom Fuoco sounds pleased to have it back.
      “I’m looking forward to running in the Classic,’’ Fuoco said. “It’s always been a local favorite with lots of friendly competitors both young and old.’’
      Michael Gross, a veteran of both Broad Street and Boston, underwent recent knee surgery and now is getting back into top shape for BSR. Eventually he plans to re-qualify for Boston.
      “I am excited for a return to normalcy both for the running community at large and hopefully for myself personally,’’ Gross said. “I am looking forward to the annual tradition of Broad Street. I know many of us mark the passage of time with these great races. I feel more energized just knowing we have that chance to race in the spring once again.’’
      Race calendar
            Sunday
      Bucks County Roadrunners Club Winter Series Eenie-Meanie-Minie-Moe Half-Marathon (13.1 miles), 9 a.m., Tyler State Park, Newtown. Contact www.bcrrclub.com
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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.