I am refreshing this article I wrote a couple of years ago, for all you newly minted runners, bikers and future competitive walkers. Even before coronavirus had left us with basically two options – catch up on every streaming show known to man, Tiger King anyone?, or go outside, West Chester was a pretty active community.
If you are new to West Chester, there is something you should know. We love running (biking too)… for a cause.
Most mornings, evenings and weekends you’ll find the streets speckled with runners, bikers, serious dog-walkers but come Saturday you’ll spot the workers with vests, the water tables and the line of racers in matching t-shirts winding through the streets of town. It’s race day.
Any cause really. If we can lace up our sneakers in support, we are there. Just about every weekend from March through December you can find at least one organized race going on in town. And while they are all special, there are five races in particular that have come to be associated with the Borough of West Chester.
The Mother of All 5ks – Mother’s Day Run
Each year before dispersing into the surrounding restaurants for brunch, the women of West Chester – and their mother’s – line up on the corner of Church and Market decked out in bright-pink tees for the Mother’s Day 5k run/walk.
This year, because coronavirus still looms large, the race is practicing social distancing. Log a 3.2 mile run anytime between March 19 and May 11, submit your results to CMMD and they’ll post the results and mail out prizes to the winners.
It’s not required, but if you want to do it in your favorite pink t-shirt, for old times sake, no one would blame you
Where: Wherever the spirit takes you (or at the the first 3.2 miles of it.)
Who: Mothers, daughters, sisters, girlfriends (Female only)
What: 5k Run/Walk in signature Pink T Shirts
Why: Proceeds go to Team CMMD
When: Anytime between now and May 11
Dub C 5K (Formerly the Dub C 4-miler)
Run on a Friday night the Dub C 5k is part-race, part-social event. It’s not uncommon to see friends and neighbors out on porches enjoying a glass of wine and cheering on the racers while they weave through town.
This race used to be a four-miler, but due to some changes in town it has been downsized to a 5K. The new course was a roughly a mile and a half loop runners completed twice. While the 4-mile course was notable tough, last year’s participants found the new course much faster by comparison.
Where: Traditionally Church and Gay, this year Church and Market
Who: All. Plus there’s a quarter-mile fun run for kids 1-13.
What: 3.2 mile celebration of the start of summer in Dub-C pop culture-pun t-shirts
When: Friday the first week of June (check website for specific date)
Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic
The Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic, formerly the Iron Hill Criterium, is a fun night. Downtown is transformed into an eight block racing oval. There’s cheering fans, bells and pace car and professional cyclists hitting 35 mph on the straightaways.
There are also amatuer races, a kids fun run, a tricycle relay race for charity and a kidszone.
Where: An eight block oval starting at the corner of High and Gay Streets, right in front of Iron Hill
Who: Top cyclists in the sport
What: 75K of high-speed racing and nail-biting 90-degree turns
Why: This is the final race in a summer-long professional racing series.
When: September 12, 2020
Chester County Color 5k
The Chester County Color 5K is run out of Everhart Park in support of the victims of the opioid crisis. I don’t know if it’s the cause or the concept, but the County has embraced it. Now in its fifth year, the race has averaged over 1000 participants and fans each year and raised more than $110,000 to fight opioid addiction in the County in four years.
Like all color runs it is not timed and runners are doused with color at every kilometer.
Where: Everhart Park
Who: Anyone and everyone
What: 3.2 mile race through town in a requisite white T-shirt
Why: The race raises money to help fight the opioid crisis
When: 9 am Saturday in November (check website for specific date)
Jingle Elf Run
Taking place before the start of West Chester’s annual Christmas Parade. The two-mile Jingle Elf Run & Walk is just enough to get you warmed up to tolerate a two hour parade in the cold. Editor’s note: two hours is an exaggeration but some years it feels that way.
Also all the runners get a complimentary elf hat and there is a prize for best dressed elf. Have I convinced you yet?
Where: Market Street between High and Walnut Streets
Who: Elves young and old
What: 2-mile run, 1-mile walk, children’s race.
When: Friday, December 6 (check website for details)
Brian’s Run is a West Chester tradition. The race that began in 1978 as a way to raise money to support Brian Bratcher a Henderson High School football player who was paralyzed after he sustained a spinal cord injury during practice has endured for 40 years.
During that first year 2,000 racers turned out for Brian and his family – and each year since runners have been bundling up and coming out in support of the disabled community (according to the website after the second year of support Brian asked that proceeds go to the larger community.) Brian sadly passed away before last year’s race, but the event continues in his honor.
The race has been recognized by both Runner’s World and Philadelphia Magazine as a can’t miss event on the runner’s calendar.
Where: West Chester Henderson High School
Who: Kids through elite runners near and very far
What: 5-mile race through town ending on the Henderson High School track
Why: The race raises money for Homes for Our Troops
When: Sunday afternoon in December (check website for specific date)
Organized racing not your thing? Check out this West Chester walking tour for some course ideas – or this map that helps cyclists safely navigate the borough on two wheels.