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Allentown a "Runner Friendly Community"

07/20/2018
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Allentown is one of five U.S cities to earn a new Runner Friendly Community designation for summer 2018 from the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA).

According to the RRCA, “Runner Friendly Communities have shown that they meet the program’s criteria, which includes community infrastructure, community support and local government support for running. Each community has shown they have an infrastructure that can foster physical activity in a safe environment. They have a proven track record that organizations and businesses work together to promote running as a healthy exercise and sport, with the most important criteria being positive relationships between the running community and their local government.”

Allentown is joined in the class of 2018 by Carrollton, Georgia; Cleveland, Tennessee; Georgetown, Texas and Mesa, Arizona. The Runner Friendly Community application for the city was made by Lehigh Valley Road Runners (LVRR) running club and board members Neal Novak and Brian Patterson.

“The quality and quantity of references from city and state government leaders for this round of Runner Friendly Communities highlights the importance of positive relationships between the running community and local officials,” said Jean Knaack, RRCA Executive Director. “The commitment to safe pedestrian networks and trails in these communities shows a dedication to making physical activity a priority for the residents in their communities.”

“The city is very proud of its parks and the numbers of runners, joggers and walkers who use them,” said Mayor Ray O’Connell. “People enjoy those trails from dawn to dusk, seven days a week and 365 days a year weather permitting. I thank Lehigh Valley Road Runners for their considerable time and effort to promote physical fitness.”

Novak said, “When we, the Lehigh Valley Road Runners, first saw the offer to apply for the Road Runners Club of America’s designation of a Running Friendly Community, our first thought was that it was a slam dunk. The LVRR has had a home in Allentown for the past quarter of a century. The places to run in Allentown abound and a number of years ago Runners’ World Magazine named the Lehigh Parkway one of the top one hundred places in the U.S. to run. Coupled with the fabulous park system is the full cooperation with all of the city departments that are required to provide a perfect running atmosphere: Parks, Police, and Streets not to mention the full participation of the school district. We are very proud of our efforts to increase awareness in fitness particular in youth fitness.”

Lehigh Valley Road Runners have been headquartered in a 19th century farmhouse located in Allentown’s Lehigh Parkway since 1994. Through the volunteer efforts of club members, extensive renovations were completed late that year and the clubhouse became fully functional as a meeting place and center of club activities.

Lehigh Parkway is home to approximately 15 kilometers of trails for running. Its main pathway along the Little Lehigh Creek is the site of several races, including the LVRR 5k Summer Series.

An extensive network of flat trails and rail trails is within a 5 mile radius of city center as well as mountain paths within 3 miles of city center, including D&L Canal trail; Ironton Rail Trail; Little Lehigh Parkway trails; Trexler Park Pathway; Rose Garden and Cedar Creek Park Trails; and South Mountain Park Trails. City parks alone contain 2,000 acres with 9 miles of paved paths and 11 miles of cinder paths.

LVRR sponsors and produces 17 free events per year for kids (Kid's Running Series) and for adult runners (Summer Series 5K (May- Sept.). Through the club Facebook page, LVRR sponsors run groups for all comers for most days of the week. LVRR gives grants of more than $20,000 to youth assist organizations and grants for equipment and has donated gear to school and civic youth association running groups for the past 20 years. The LVRR has awarded scholarships to young runners seeking higher education for the past 40 years.

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photo: Lehigh Valley Live.com

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