For more than 20 years, Dick Patterson did whatever it took to keep the Bucks 5K Series race schedule moving along at full speed.
Now that the former director is retiring, the Series is acknowledging his accomplishments by naming the overall male and female winners’ trophy in his honor.
“Following in his footsteps is a very difficult task,” said new series director Dr. Johnny King-Marino in a phone conversation. “It’s pretty challenging to replicate his dedication, patience and his stick-to-itiveness. He was on top of everything.”
The masters’ winners also will receive trophies in Patterson’s name.
As for this year’s Bucks 5K Series, a slate of six races in and around Doylestown, there’s going to be a new point system.
Dr. King-Marino explains: “Right now people get a point just for showing up. Next year they will get five points for showing up. If they are injured and can’t race and they show up to volunteer, they get five points.”
Dr. King-Marino, who is president of the Bucks County Roadrunners Club, also directs that organization’s Winter Series, which kicked off an 11-race schedule two weeks ago.
In the Bucks 5K Series he is ably assisted by Kris Boger.
Another new addition to this year’s series is the creation of a specially made jacket for all those who do all six of the races.
“Anyone who shows up for all six races gets this nice custom-made jacket,” King-Marino said.
On a nice weather day, more than 300 runners have shown up for a race. The series appeals to all sorts of runners.
“Well, I think there’s something for beginners and pretty much everyone can run a 5K,” King-Marino said. “So entire families can do the event, which is nice. It’s a tradition. The Series has been going on for 25-plus years now. The Memorial Day race is over 30 years. It’s a family event.”
For those who want something a little more challenging, there will be 10K competitions at the Bookin’ for Lookin’ event in April as well as the Break-Fast competition in June.
One of the fun parts of the series is the competition among friends based in Bucks County.
“It’s camaraderie,” King-Marino explained. “You’re racing your buddies. And they (the races) don’t beat you up. It’s not like a marathon or a half-marathon. Some runners use them for training and speedwork.”
The Series has raised all sorts of money since it arrived on the scene in the ‘90s.
“What’s also cool is there are six different charities,” King-Marino said. “So you can pick something kind of near and dear to your heart to raise funds. The series always raises a tremendous amount of money for worthy causes.”
One of the new races on the schedule last year was the “Be Kind 5K” which was held at Holicong Park in Buckingham. In its first year, the race generated more than $20,000 for worthy causes.
Race director Keith Fenimore wants to top the inaugural race’s numbers.
“I feel like the Be Kind made such a massive splash last year in its first year; it exceeded all expectations,” said Fenimore. “So I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself and our committee to outdo ourselves. Which is going to be hard to do.
“I’m looking at two things: Bringing in more people and raising more funds. I want to try to double what we earned last year. I feel confident that we’re going to come close.”
Plenty of people showed up last year. A new, more runner-friendly course should keep the runner count pretty high once again.
“What was nice was the positive feedback we got from all the runners,” Fenimore said. “The enjoyment they had. It sort of had a different vibe. It just had this real nice communal feel. I want to carry that over for the life of the race.”
The new course will start and finish in the park but unlike last year, a good portion of the race will be held on roads outside the park.
“The reality was our set-up for last year was fine for the first year,” Fenimore said. “But as we become more successful and grow, there were congestion concerns that lead to safety concerns with having too many people on narrow running paths.
“So we made a collective decision to open it up. We’re still starting in the park and finishing in the park.”
The schedule for the 2024 Bucks 5K Series:
>Saturday, March 23: Blaze of Glory 5K & Fun Run
>Saturday, April 13: Be Kind 5K & Fun Run
>Sunday, April 30: Bookin’ For Lookin’ 5K, 10K & Fun Run
>Saturday, May 11: YMCA Bucks County Strong 5K & Fun Run
>Saturday, May 25: Doylestown 5K & Fun Run
>Sunday, June 16: BCRR Break-Fast 5K, 10K & Fun Run
To register, visit www.bucks5kseries.com
Monday, Jan. 1
BCRR Winter Series Cham-Pain 5K, 11 a.m., Tyler State Park, Richboro/Newtown. Contact www.bcrrclub.com