The Bucks County Roadrunners Club’s Winter Series might be old, but it never gets old.
By that we mean the ever-popular 11-race schedule through Tyler State Park continues to attract thousands of runners because of the scenic courses, the tasty post-race food spreads and, perhaps best of all, the great camaraderie during the cold-weather months.
Even the COVID pandemic failed to slow down this weekly gathering of runners, a tradition which has gone on since 1978.
Current WS director John O’Brien, now in his seventh year at the helm, just opened registration for the series on the club’s website (bcrrclub.com).
One new attraction this year involves the annual “Informal” race, which is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 3.
This year’s event will be held in collaboration with Bristol Riverside Theatre (BRT). It’s titled “The Running of the Bunnies,” a tribute to BRT’s upcoming presentation of “A Christmas Story, The Play”, running from Nov. 28 through Dec. 28. (see https://www.brtstage.org/ for more info)
In addition to the traditional pancakes, mimosas and breakfast stouts, BRT will be giving out pairs of tickets to anyone running in a full bunny suit as well as raffling off an additional five pair of tickets to people participating by running in some visible bunny parts, ears, tail, nose, etc.
The race will be held at: Advanced Spine and Sports Medicine, 1098 Washington Crossing Rd. #5, Washington Crossing, Pa. 18977.
From here, this looks like an exciting, fun way to kick off the new racing season.
“The costume thing is a tribute to the character ‘Ralphie’ in ‘A Christmas Story,’ so it will just add to the fun,” O’Brien said in a telephone interview. “The best part of the Informal is it’s not competitive. It’s just geared to get everybody out and back, plus talking to each other again.”
As for the series itself, things are looking up because a lot of organization personnel are returning for another year.
“I’ve been really fortunate that nearly all of our individual race directors are returning,” O’Brien said. “That keeps things easier for me. We will have the same timing company, Compuscore, coming back and that should be even easier because we will be getting another year with them under our belt.”
Here is the 2023-24 Winter Series calendar (Note: All races start at 9 a.m. with the exception of the Cham-Pain New Year’s Day event on Jan. 1, 2024. That 5K will begin at 11 a.m.):
>Dec. 3, Informal (Distance is runner’s choice).
>Dec. 10: Covered Bridge 5K (3.1 miles).
>Dec. 17: Jingle Bell, 5.3 miles.
>Jan. 1, 2024: Cham-Pain 5K.
>Jan. 7: Tyler Challenge 10K (6.2 miles).
>Jan. 14: Wild Card (4 to 6 miles).
>Jan. 21: Polar Bear, 8 miles.
>Jan. 28: Honest Abe, 4.6 miles.
>Feb. 4: Terrible Tyler, 15K (9.3 miles).
>Feb. 11: Pick Your Way, 5.3 miles.
>Feb. 18: Eeenie-Meanie-Minie-Moe Half-Marathon, 13.1 miles.
>Feb. 25: Staggered Start, 4.6 miles.
O’Brien has been pleased with the way the series has bounced back after the challenges presented by the pandemic. There were good turnouts last year and the moderate temperatures (and lack of snowfall) had something to do with that.
The only real concession made from the health crisis now is that the handling and distribution of food items are done in a little more cautious way.
“We had the oatmeal which has become a staple,” O’Brien said. “Along with the hot chocolate and coffee.”
If there is an appreciable amount of snow on any given Sunday, the best way to find out the status of a race is to check the club’s website.
“We’ll try to post something by 7 o’clock in the morning,” O’Brien said. “Hopefully we have the same weather as last winter but I doubt we will ever get that weather again.”
The end-of-season get-together to hand out awards, etc., will once again be held outdoors. It’s less formal than in past years, complete with children’s games to make it a more fun family experience.
And one of the club’s goals is to get some more young runners involved.
“The young runners will help move the club forward,” O’Brien stated. “That’s always one of the goals. The kids are coming out. We’ve seen some growth there. They’re the future of the club.”
Directing the series still gives O’Brien a great deal of satisfaction.
“I like being involved,” he said. “Even if I’m not running as much. I like to get out there Sunday mornings and help the club grow and move forward. It’s fun seeing the progress of it and the events grow. Seeing more walk-ups, like in the half-marathon.”
Last year’s series winners – Alex Carideo and Lori Wade – could face some good competition this winter, including former Winter Series winner Jamie Gray as well as Christine Lloyd.
Veteran’s Day 5K, 8:30 a.m., Richboro. Contact www.runningintheusa.com