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Chalfont 5K race has run its course


Citing dwindling numbers of both volunteers and runners, Chalfont Borough said this year’s Chalfont Challenge marked the end of the community race launched 31 years ago.

“It’s time to move on to a different type of event,” said Marilyn Jacobson, a long-serving council member who helped organize the run that began in 1992. Bea Barr, who was the borough’s manager at the time, initiated the idea of a community-centered race with her daughter, Marlene White, an avid runner.

“It was a good thing for the community,” said Barr, in a phone interview. “It was really worthwhile.”

Learning it was ending, Barr, who is now 99, said, “I’m sorry to hear that.”

With a need for volunteers to help with everything from ensuring the course’s safety and setting up water stations to arranging for music, gathering sponsors and creating t-shirts, at least 100 people are needed to put on a successful race, explained Jacobson and John Abbott, a race course and safety director. Other key contributors to the race’s long success include George Wozar and Tracey Bowen, they said.

“That’s become more difficult,” Jacobson said, adding, the number of participants has “not recovered” either since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The popular race went off “in sunshine or rain,” said Abbott in a letter he called, “Eulogy for the Chalfont Challenge.” It was canceled only once, during the pandemic. The race attracted hundreds of runners each year. At one point, Jacobson said, as many as 500 took part. A children’s “fun run” was added and an honorary race starter was named to recognize a prominent Chalfont resident.

Since 2005, the 5K raised more than $300,000, through the runners fees and community sponsors, said Jacobson. The funds were instrumental in supporting the creation of Twin Streams Park and building and updating the borough’s trail system, among other initiatives, Jacobson said.

Asked if she was sorry to see it end, Jacobson said, “I’m sad, but I’m very proud of what we accomplished. It’s time to move on to something new that fits our community.”