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Chester County Press

Kennett Run 2020 canceled

05/05/2020 06:09PM ● By Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

For the past several decades, the Borough of Kennett Square has been a town of open air festivals and celebrations, none of which has taken up more square footage than the annual Kennett Run, that has for the past 30 years sent hundreds of runners through its main streets and back roads on one Saturday morning in May every year.

Yet, like the Mushroom Festival, the Cinco de Mayo Festival and the Memorial Day parade, all it took was the arrival of a huge pandemic to wipe away what would have been the 31st annual running of the Kennett Run on May 16.

Soon after the March 15 recommendations by the Center for Disease Control that encouraged the cancelation of all large-scale events and mass gatherings in the U.S. – a list that included sporting events – the Kennett Run Board of Directors sifted through the facts about COVID-19, and reached a decision.

“We spent a couple of weeks trying to get on top of what was happening and distributing reliable information about coronavirus to the board members so that we could come to a consensus,” said Bob Merkle, president of Kennett Run Charities, Inc., the fundraising arm of the Kennett Run. “At the end of those two weeks it was unanimous that we not hold the race, out of concern for our runners. COVID-19 is an airborne disease, so people being in close proximity to one another presents a significant risk, and we really didn’t want to enhance the risk.

“If you think of the start of a race, people are standing on top of each other, and when you start the run they’re all packed together, one behind the other. So if someone who has the infection leads the pack, they’re all going to be running through the mist from the breath of the individual who has the coronavirus.”

After the decision was reached, Kennett Run Charities, Inc. made the following announcement on its website:

“We all understand the challenges COVID-19 has presented the world and our small town is no exception. Our mission remains true during these trying times and the Kennett Run Charities in conjunction with the United Way of Southern Chester County has expedited the release of funds to help those in dire need.

That is exactly what Kennett Run Charities, Inc. has been doing.

Throughout its 31-year history, the Kennett Run has earned a reputation in the running world for fielding a highly-competitive event that still manages to retain a small-town feel – one that draws hundreds of spectators to its Party in the Park event at Anson B. Nixon Park at the conclusion of every race. Begun in 1989, the Kennett Run has also become recognized for its charitable efforts that have raised and distributed more than $1 million to local non-profit agencies in southern Chester County in the past 30 years – not only from race entry revenues but from the contributions of its long-time sponsors.

When representatives from these businesses were told that the 2020 race was to be canceled, the Kennett Run Board of Directors gave them three options as to what they wished to do with the $40,000 in total contributions they had already collectively provided for the 2020 event: 1) Have their funding returned to them; 2) roll their sponsorship money into the 2021 race; or 3) continue to apply their contributions this year, for distribution throughout the community.

Nearly 90 percent of the sponsors chose the third option, along with a specific request.

“Essentially everyone we spoke to told us, ‘Give the money to the food cupboards,’” Merkle said.

In coordination with the United Way of Southern Chester County and other county efforts, Kennett Run Charities, Inc. will contribute a total of $27,850 to the Kennett Area Community Services and the Oxford Area Neighborhood Services Center this week, while the remaining funds will be given to local EMS and fire departments, as well as other selected non-profit organizations.

These contributions arrive at a crucial time, Merkle said.

“Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, this allows us to apply their funding to the areas that are needed the most at this crucial time, which coincides with our top priorities for assistance -- food, shelter and emergency services,” he said. “While $40,000 is less than what the Kennett Run usually gives back in a normal year, it remains a significant portion of what we give back to the community every year.

“Having to cancel an event as significant as the Kennett Run – one with so much impact on so many lives -- has been difficult for everyone who has been involved with making it an annual tradition,” Merkle added, “but if there is any silver lining to this cloud, it’s that we are already at work on the planning for next year’s event.”

To make a donation to Kennett Run Charities, Inc., visit the Kennett Run website at

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].


Photo by Richard L. Gaw       Out of safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Kennett Run, scheduled for May 16, has been canceled.


The Kennett Run says ‘Thank You’

Despite the cancelation of what would have been the 31st annual Kennett Run on May 16, the following sponsoring organizations chose to apply their funding for this year’s race to the local community. Together, their decision has enabled Kennett Run Charities, Inc. to distribute a total of $40,000 to Kennett Area Community Services, the Oxford Food Cupboard and local fire and EMS departments.

Blue Yak

Brutscher, Foley, Milliner and Land, LLC

Century 21

Chadds Ford Climate Control

Chatham Financial

Chester County Eye

Delaware Orthopaedic Specialists

Genesis Health Care

The Giant Company

Independence Wealth Services

Jennersville Regional Hospital

Kendal Crosslands Communities

Launch Collective Designs

Penn Family Medicine

Perna & Abracht. LLC

Phillips Mushroom Farms


Sinton Air Conditioning and Heating

Terry Lynn’s Critters


Two Stones Pub

Upland Country Day School