FOOT NOTES: It’s time for fall running


Summer didn’t say goodbye. She just packed up her things and left.

I read this on social media and while it gives me a chuckle, it hits close to home because my body is still recovering from the sudden change in weather. I’m sniffling, sneezing, and hacking, but also REALLY excited because we’ve entered the best time of year to go for a run: Fall.

First and foremost, this is the prettiest time of year. All you have to do is take a look at the trees around you, loaded with myriad leaves of vibrant colors. Animals are scurrying to pack up for the winter, while humans are busy unloading their fall decor for the world to see. It is often difficult to keep yourself “entertained” during a run, but the exception is in the fall, where one can be prone to getting lost in the scenery and daydreaming through long runs.

While I harp on about the beauty of fall, a practical running benefit of the season is that it brings faster times. You can take deeper breaths, hold the pace for longer, and push yourself harder. This will be especially evident if you’ve already put in the summer work. With faster paces comes faster races, and the calendar will be loaded with competitive opportunities this fall. I consider the hometown Turkey Trot to be the Super Bowl of running.

The fall is especially kind to the sweaty runner, water buffaloes like myself who become drenched just minutes into a summer run. There is no need to work my schedule around the heat, nor do I have to worry about searing sweat burning into my eyes. There’s nothing more reassuring than a cool breeze during a hard run. Compared to the choking hot air of the summer, fall’s air seems like a tall glass of ice water. 

Vacations have all but run their course, and with school back in session, many of us in the parenting sector are back into a firm fall routine. This is a good chance for us to find a regular time slot for our running, whether it’s a chilly morning run before work or an afternoon stroll. That weekly fun run that we could never make over the summer suddenly seems a lot more within reach now, too, doesn’t it?

I’m telling you, forget New Year’s. Very few first-time runners actually make it through January, and can you blame them? It’s cold, miserable, and dark. If you have an itch to get into or return to running, your best chance to successfully “fall” in love with this sport is by starting right now. By picking up running in the fall, you’re going to be immersed in beautiful scenery and prime running conditions. 

And for all of my running friends who have already been out reaping the benefits of this season, I have just one thing to say: Happy fall, y’all.


Is it just us, or do Franklin County runners seem to be getting better with age?

A few weeks ago we reported on 56-year-old Laurie Dymond becoming the oldest winner of the Harrisburg Half Marathon, and in the time since then, a number of other local 50-plus runners have made impressive showings on the racepaths.

Perhaps the one in this group that possesses the most sheer speed is Chambersburg’s Bill Dann, 54, who logged a Top 25 finish at the Philadelphia Distance Run 5K, a race that drew 823 runners. Dann clocked a 19:04 to finish 24th overall and beat out 40 other men for the top spot in the 50-54 AG. Also completing the race was Fayetteville’s Wing Lam Cheung (23:46).

Chambersburg’s Bill Dann and his daughter Carolyn pose for a photo after completing the Philadelphia Distance Run 5K. Bill Dann, 54, was a Top 25 finisher at the race, clocking a 19:04 to win the 50-54 AG.

While Dann likes to zip past the competition on the roads, fellow Chambersburg runner Richard Myers, 55, prefers to do his work in a more rugged setting. Myers was the 10th-place finisher at the infamous Boulder Beast 25K in Lock Haven, finishing in 3:09:29. He was followed by Chambersburg runners Alex Kaczmark (3:36:46), Ryan Kaczmark (3:36:46), Elizabeth Reichard (4:16:33), and Lara Cubbage (4:41:11).

In Bainbridge, Katie Thompson of Chambersburg proved that she hasn’t lost a step at 41, finishing as the top female and third overall in 22:51 at the Nissley Vineyards 5K. Thompson, who said her favorite part of the race was the “free wine,” beat out runners in their 20s and 30s for the top spot.

Chambersburg’s Katie Thompson was the top female runner at the Nissley Vineyards 5K in Bainbridge. She won the race in 22:51.

From the vineyards to the punishing trails of Pine Grove Furnace State Park and Michaux State Forest, a large contingent of Local.News-area runners took on the Ironmaster’s Challenge, an event which featured 15K and 50K races. Only 35 runners were brave enough to take on the 50K race, including Chambersburg’s Matthew Smith, who finished in 7:36:44. The 15K was highlighted by Chambersburg’s Eric Brennan, who finished third overall in 1:15:51. Brennan was followed by Chambersburg’s Kirk Clever (1:26:37), Mike Hepner (1:34:43), Roque Zubia (1:41:15), Brandon Sherman (1:43:53), Gavin Martin (1:45:34), Nora Zubia (1:45:55), and Shelby White (1:49:39), Fayetteville’s Amy Whitmoyer (1:47:25) and Howard Seaton (2:20:55), and Waynesboro’s Ellie Brace (2:41:08) and Megan Brace (2:54:59).

In Washington D.C., Chambersburg’s Andrew Feldman (1:26:53), Leila Reese (1:44:44), Cher Shu (2:15:51), and Deanna Quintana (2:58:24) were all finishers at the D.C. Half Marathon.

A number of other locals were involved in races across the region, including Waynesboro’s Michael McGovern (55:01 at Hands-On House 5K), Greencastle’s Chris Stephenson (2:42:49 at Hands-On House Half Marathon), Chambersburg’s Zach Johle (32:38 at Scottdale Fall Festival 5K), Tyler Seibert (41:29 at Pittsburgh Great Race 10K), Lauren Fawcett (27:53 at Pittsburgh Great Race 5K), and Gary Neus (32:27 at Dogfish Dash 3.8-Miler).

And now, a look ahead:

Troegs Hop Dash 5K: Saturday, 9 a.m., in Hershey. Start with a stroll through the Hershey hills, and finish at Troegs Brewery, where beer, snacks, and live music await. Look up the race on

John H. Harmon Memorial 5K: Saturday, 10 a.m., in Chambersburg. This race, in its 11th year, provides free post-race beverages from GearHouse Brewing Company and benefits Penn State Hershey Pulmonary research. Sign up for the event on

Down Syndrome Awareness 5K: Sunday, 2 p.m., in Fayetteville. Take on this race, which mostly benefits the Waynesboro-based Blast Organization, a non-profit that provides opportunities for special needs children and adults to thrive in the community. Register for the race on

Also: Snack Town RunFest (Saturday, in Hanover); Sheshequin Half Marathon (Saturday, in Sayre); Blair Regional YMCA October Half Marathon (Saturday, in Hollidaysburg); Medal Madness 5K/10K (Saturday, in New Cumberland); Black Forest Ultra 100K (Saturday, in North Bend); Hartz PT Fall Blast 5K (Saturday, in Lititz); Iron Bridge Run 5K (Saturday, in Lancaster); ITP Matters 5K Color Walk/Run (Saturday, in Fayetteville); Teepee Trot 5K (Saturday, in Halifax); Shoes ‘N Brews Metric Marathon (Sunday, in Conshohocken); Zoey’s 5K Run (Sunday, in York); Breast Cancer 5K (Sunday, in Reading); Marshalton Triathlon (Sunday, in West Chester); Blues Cruise 50K (Sunday, in Reading); Tower to Town Race 10 Miler (Sunday, in Lebanon); Hearts for the Homeless Endurance Challenge 24 Hour (Friday, Oct. 7, in Bellefonte); Lititz recCenter Youth Triathlon (Friday, Oct. 7, in Lititz); Cornwall Superhero 5K (Friday, Oct. 7, in Lebanon); Brush Rush 5K (Saturday, Oct. 8, in Little Buffalo State Park); Community Corn Pickin’ 5K (Saturday, Oct. 8, in Lititz); The Stockville (Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 8-9, in Blain); Juniata Valley Trail Run (Saturday, Oct. 8, in Mifflin); Strasburg Half Marathon (Saturday, Oct. 8, in Strasburg); Central Bradford Triathlon (Saturday, Oct. 8, in Towanda); Lititz 5K for Life (Saturday, Oct. 8, in Lititz); Mahoning Shadow Shuffle Half Marathon (Saturday, Oct. 8, in Punxsutawney); Roaring Run 50K (Saturday, Oct. 8, in Champion); Warren County YMCA SuperKwik Challenge Half Marathon (Saturday, Oct. 8, in Warren); West Penn Trail Triathlon (Saturday, Oct. 8, Saltsburg); Pittsburgh Penguins 6.6K (Sunday, Oct. 9, in Pittsburgh); Steamtown Marathon (Sunday, Oct. 9, in Scranton); Empty Stroller 5K (Sunday, Oct. 9, in Reading); Green Monster Trail Challenge 50K (Sunday, Oct. 9, in Wellsboro); Steamtown Marathon (Sunday, Oct. 9, in Scranton).

Foot Notes is a self-syndicated column by Central Pa. sportswriter Andy Sandrik that has been “running” since 2016. Andy always follows back on Strava and can be reached by email at [email protected].

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