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Chester County Press

Kennett Run 2017: Same races, different routes

01/31/2017 10:50AM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

For those who saw the 1973 Broadway musical “Seesaw,” perhaps the line that was most uttered by audiences after the show was taken from the show-stopping tune in the second act: “It's not where you start, it's where you finish.”
For the hundreds of runners and walkers who will compete in the 2017 Kennett Run on May 20, however, where they start the race will be exactly where they will finish it.
In an effort to consolidate the logistics of timing, race-day registration, pre- and post-race events, and all Kennett Run events – the 5K, 10K, PoweRun, FundRun and 1-Mile Run/Walk – will begin and end this year in Anson B. Nixon Park.
In addition, the 5K and 10K races will be re-routed through other parts of Kennett Square. Past races directed runners to follow North Union Street – and 10K runners through neighborhoods just north of Route 1 –  then onto East Locust Street, past the Kennett Square Golf & Country Club and onto North Walnut Street and into the park.
In the 2017 race, the 5K and 10K course will direct participants out of the park and onto North Walnut Street, where they will make a right onto State Street, and follow the course until making a U-turn just east of Mill Road, and re-trace their steps from State Street to North Walnut Street, where there will be two U-turns for participants in both races that will then direct them back to the park.
The annual Joe Hector PoweRun, which had taken place at the Kennett Area YMCA, will also take place in the park.
Several factors contributed to the realignment, said Kennett Run Race Director J.J. Simon. In the past, timing companies expressed concern that having the starting line at a different location than a finish line adds an element of risk and more potential for failure to calculate accurate running and walking times.
“Five K runners generally need no more than about 25 minutes to finish their race, so timers who have set up all the way over on North Union have to sprint from the starting line to the park and coordinate all of the finishes,” Simon said. “We wanted to guarantee a better timing environment for the Kennett Run.”
Kennett Run certifier Dick Fitch is currently measuring the new course so that the new routes are accurate, and that they meet the National Racing Association of America's certification standards.
Simon said that the new route was, in part, influenced by the race course designed for the  first Victory KSQ Mushroom Cap 13.1 race last Oct. 15, which partially wove its way through streets in the borough.
“The Mushroom Cap showed us and proved to me the willingness of the borough and Kennett Township to allow for other roads to be used for running,” he said.    
“We talked to a lot of runner and local merchants last year about how to make the Kennett Run even more of a community event, and many suggested the idea of incorporating the borough itself,” said Kennett Run Director B. Christopher Daney. “We then made the suggestion to the Kennett Run Charities board of directors, and they were one hundred percent behind it.”
There will be other advantages of centralizing the Kennett Run at Anson B. Nixon Park: The need for a starting line structure is eliminated; all sponsorship banners, once placed at the starting line and then transported to the park during the annual Party in the Park, will be placed throughout the the park and remain visible all day; and the one-mile run for children will circle around the park's pond beginning at 10:30 a.m., which will give parents compete in the 5K or 10K race the opportunity to leave their children with other family, and then be able to participate with them in the one-mile race, when they return.
Nova Timing Systems has been chosen as the official timer for the Kennett Run in 2017. The Delaware-based company has timed over 800 races, including the Boston Marathon 35k and 40k splits and the Delaware Marathon Running Festival, as well as some of the most attended races in the Mid-Atlantic area. Nova Timing Systems will tally results through sophisticated electronic reading systems, and all results will be available immediately.
“After the 2016 race, J.J. and I talked about the timing issue,” Daney said. “We needed to have a new company who could handle the timing for an increased number of runners, as well as be able to chart the results of the PoweRun, which also saw more people involved.”
While the 2017 Kennett Run may have a new look, its attention to safety will remain first and foremost. Daney said that all intesections and roads associated with the race will be shut down and patroled by the Kennett Square Police, as well as the police units from Kennett and East Marlborough townships.
To Daney, the responsibilities of coordinating the Kennett Run have been made easier because he and Simon have inherited the turn-key tightness of an event made so by the hard work of former directors and volunteers. It allows the freedom to infuse a 28-year-old event with fresh ideas, Daney said.
"The popularity of races like the Kennett Run go up and down every few years, so you need to come up with new ideas to keep people interested," he said. "We're lucky to have the freedom to improve upon an already great event. We have also benefitted from being able to promote the event in so many ways, from social media to word of mouth.
"Runners are a tight-knit community," Daney added. "They all speak to one another, and many have come to know the Kennett Run as not only a challenging race, but one that's also beautiful and safe. With our new course alignment, we're looking for this year's race to be the best ever."
For more information about the Kennett Run and to register online, visit
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail [email protected].