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On the Run: Bucks runners overcome Philly Marathon conditions


It was a perfect day for racing.

If you happened to be in a sailboat, that is.

As for a marathon, well that’s a different story.

It was blowing up a storm for the 2022 Philadelphia Marathon on Sunday but even with people hanging onto their hats, Bucks County runners managed to hold onto their pace.

There were some snappy times recorded by runners from Bensalem to Buckingham on the 26.2-mile course through the streets of Philly and along the Schuylkill River.

Runners such as Jim Larson of Langhorne didn’t seem to mind the gusts, which hit the 25-30 mph range.

The Bucks County Roadrunners Club veteran ran a 3:29.20, less than a minute off last year’s time, which had qualified him for the Boston Marathon.

Philadelphia’s overall runner-friendly course, featuring relatively flat terrain and not too many turns, probably compensated for the challenging weather, with temperatures failing to get out of the 30s.

In other words, January in mid-November.

Plus, as Larson pointed out in an interview prior to the Philly race, there is a large contingent of hometown fans and the starting line is convenient to reach.

“It is motivating to see family and friends from BCRR along the course and in the race,” he said. “I really like the course around the different parts of the city and it has enough hills to keep it interesting without being too steep.

“Running along the river on Kelly Drive is classic Philly and it is good to see runners coming from the other direction. I don’t like racing in the heat, so the cooler temperatures in late fall are a big reason for me to use a qualifier.”

He can say that again. Hats, gloves and long sleeves were the order of the day.

Some other times of note by Bucks County runners:

Ryan Schiele, 19, Chalfont, 3:05.09; Tony Pereira, 53, Newtown, 3:42.46; Pat Donadio, 53, Bensalem, 3:11.38; Jin Lee, 48, Warwick, 3:48.21; Alex Santamaria, 44, Bensalem, 3:18.50; Bob Morrow, 53, Chalfont, 3:17.03; Keyu Wu, 51, Chalfont, 3:08.15; Austin Darigo, 32, Warminster, 3:13.26; Andrew van Hoogenstein, 38, Newtown, 2:27.51; Bode Wildgrube, 19, Newtown, 3:11.36; Lucia Sanchez, 27, Newtown, 3:07.35; Dan Kilvey, 44, Morrisville, 3:17.54; Cheyenne Randle, 28, Levittown, 3:22.56.

Philadelphia continues to attract thousands of runners for various reasons but one of the biggest elements of its popularity might be the fast times make for a better chance of a Boston qualifier.

Langhorne’s Pete Lederer, whose streak of consecutive Boston Marathons is approaching the 20-mark, says Philadelphia is certainly a runner-friendly endeavor.

“Philly is a great course to run a Boston Marathon qualifying time,” Lederer said prior to Sunday’s race. “It has so much going for it for local runners.

“It was my first marathon and my first Boston qualifier with no time to spare as I just made it by 17 seconds. The course is mostly flat with just a few small hills that can help your legs and mind by providing a terrain change. There are pacers that help keep you on track.”

Area runners will tell you the weather and the closeby proximity play a role in their decision

“The temperature is almost always cool,” Lederer pointed out, “ whereas even two or three weeks earlier we tend to get warm days (such as 73 degrees for this year’s New York City Marathon). It (Philadelphia) is one of the easier big city marathons from the standpoint of logistics. You can park nearby, and the race starts and finishes in the same area. Friends and family can cheer you on in multiple places along the course. I’ve run Philly four times now and I’ve been fortunate enough to have each of those be a Boston qualifier, with my best time being 2:56.’’

Janet Lewis made Philadelphia her first marathon back in 2007. She ran with a pace group and made the Boston standard by several minutes.

Like Lederer, Lewis appreciates the logistics of the Philly event.

“There’s enough parking, a common start and finish and the course is fast, but has some challenges so you aren’t lulled into boredom,” said Lewis, a former standout runner at Neshaminy High School now residing in Abington. “The final miles along the (Schuylkill) River are flat, which helps when you are so tired at the end.”

Cheering sections are helpful. You wouldn’t have that if you ran in Los Angeles or Sydney, Australia.

“I love that friends and family can come out and see runners in a few places, if they would like,” Lewis said. “The fan support is always strong.”

Courtney Woodfield actually ran Boston before she did Philadelphia. She wanted to see if she could run faster on the local course and she did that, recording a 3:20 last year, good for fifth place in her age group.

That speedy time earned her fifth place in her age group and qualified her for the Abbott World Major Marathon Wanda Age Group World Championships, which took place in London last month.

“The Philadelphia Marathon is recognized internationally as a world class, competitive race,” the Newtown resident said. “Compared to other smaller and larger marathons I have run, I thought it was the perfect combination of having enough runners and crowd support to make the miles fly by, but not so crowded on the course that you couldn’t find your own place and pace from the start.”

Just being in familiar surroundings and taking in all the sights and sounds can help make for a memorable experience.

“I’ve lived in Philadelphia in the past,” Woodfield said. “I also enjoy the race route, it really is a tour of the city!”