Runner/lawyer DeBord out to protect the environment she loves

Brittany DeBord has experienced success in the New York City Marathon.
      When Brittany DeBord runs along the Delaware River canal towpath or on the trails of Tyler State Park, she doesn’t just appreciate the natural beauty of the scenery.

      She’s thinking of the big picture – that is, preserving all types of land for the sake of environmental wellness and maintaining that status for generations to come.

      DeBord, 33, a member of the Bucks County Roadrunners Club who resides in Lambertville, N.J., is an environmental lawyer and shareholder with the New Jersey firm of Lieberman, Blecher and Sinkevich P.C.

      Her practice focuses on all phases of environmental law, including litigation, regulatory compliance and permitting, as well as toxic exposure litigation, real estate transactions and land use matters.

      By the way, she’s also one of the fastest female runners in the area, as her first-place finishes in the first two races on the BCRR Winter Series calendar at Tyler will attest.

      Her line of employment goes somewhat hand-in-hand with making sure we make proper use of land development and maintenance. To wit, she started out as a legal intern for a number of environmental agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Sierra Club and the World Resources Institute.

      She originally hails from northern New Jersey’s Bergen County, just a Hudson River separation from New York City. After college, she decided to move away from the hubbub of the NYC metropolitan area and headed for New Hope (via Philadelphia) before purchasing a home across the Delaware in Lambertville.

      “I moved to New Hope during COVID,” said DeBord. “I was living in Philly and with the lockdown – I’m more of a nature girl anyway – there was nothing to do in the city. I moved to New Hope and exactly a year ago I bought a home in Lambertville. I love it here.”

      Plus it’s quick commute to her law offices in Princeton.

      Back in the day, she was a big-time runner in a smalltown (Waldwick, high school graduating class of about 100) locale. The track team was highly successful and DeBord played a big role in that.

      “I was carrying the distance team,” she said with all modesty. “We just had like superstars that year. I ran in the New Jersey Meet of Champions.”

      She attended the University of Delaware with the intention of pursuing a degree in environmental engineering. She tried to keep her running career going but “burnout” plus some ill-timed injuries restricted her to a couple years of limited competition.

      “I still ran but just to stay in shape,” said DeBord, echoing what a lot of top runners end up doing right after graduation.

      “Then two years ago, a friend of mine was running the Philly Half (Marathon). I thought, ‘you know, I haven’t done a real race in like 10 years. I’ll train with you.’ I was just being silly about it but the old competitive nature came out.

      “Then I found a running crew in Lambertville, began running way more and I’ve been successful at it. It’s been really fun.”

      Although she has exceptional footspeed in shorter races, long distance seems to be her forte. She has a marathon 3:06 to her credit.

    Right now she’s doing some fine work in the intermediate stuff, too. In the December 17 Winter Series Jingle Bell 5.3-mile race, she was first woman finisher and 14th overall in 34:28, a 6:30 per mile pace.

      Doing courtroom work in the environmental field is something near and dear to her heart.

      After earning a law degree from George Washington University, she was ready to put her beliefs into practice in legal venues.

      “I represent some non-profit groups that focus on protecting the environment,” she said. “I represent some people who would be considered polluters who need a lawyer who help them come into compliance.

      “I kind of represent folks from each end of the spectrum. But personally, in my personal life, I’m an environmentalist and I do really appreciate nature since I’m running so much and I’m in nature. It’s very important to me to conserve the nature that we have.”

      Still, there are two sides to every story. We don’t live in log cabins anymore and cars have replaced horses. Sometimes progress comes with a price. She’s worked on both sides of that coin.

      “When you’re an attorney, you kind of learn there’s a balance,” she said. “That balance is important for me.”

      DeBord ran two marathons in college and says she had no idea what she was doing.

      “I just thought it was cool,” she said with a chuckle. “I ran the Baltimore Marathon and the first mile was under six minutes. Later on I just died.

      “Now I run with a few folks in Lambertville who know what they’re doing. They’re inspiring. So now I’m thinking marathons again. I did Steamtown in Scranton last year. That was 3:11 and that’s pretty fast for someone who’s been out of it for awhile.

      “Then I did Vermont City in the spring and New York in the fall. I did New York in 3:06. I’m going to do Berlin this upcoming fall. I hope to break three hours. In the meantime, I’m doing Boston in April.”

      Having a training partner like BCRR’s Colm Quinn should help a lot in terms of preparation and pacing.

      Like many local runners, DeBord uses the Winter Series to keep her fitness level up during a time when there aren’t a whole lot of races.

      “Running at race pace on those Tyler hills makes a world of difference,” she said. “I always feel stronger after the Winter Series. Those hills might kill you but I wouldn’t voluntarily run Tyler without the Winter Series. It’s motivated me.”

      Race calendar

      Sunday, Jan. 7

      BCRR Winter Series Tyler Challenge 10K, 9 a.m., Tyler State Park, Newtown/Richboro. Contact www.bcrrclub.com

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About Wayne Fish 2451 Articles
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.