Five Times The Fun in Philadelphia


Nothing marks the end of summer like the annual rite of passage held in Fort Washington PA – the Greater Philadelphia Runner’s Pentathlon.  I believe this is the fourth annual running of this event, third time I have been involved.  The inaugural event ended my season in 2010 – was having a pretty good year until I tried a 200m race that didn’t end well (or at the finish line – hamstring, as usual).  I sat out 2011 after vowing never to sprint again, have kept that promise unless you count a 400m experiment a couple of years ago.  2012 saw the introduction of the team competition, so I didn’t have to break my no-sprint vow, just find some sprinters to team up with.  I ran the lovely 3000-1500-800 triple that might have been some of my best racing of the year.   This brings us to 2013…

With all the work I have done this spring and summer I have been given the green light to “air it out” a little bit by Rich – the sprint boycott ends tomorrow.  I use the term ‘sprint’ liberally though, because I have no intention on seeing how fast I can go, just seeing how fast I can go safely.  While writing this it is dawning on me that maybe I should have done some fast striders or something in the past couple days or weeks to introduce that extra gear to the body, but I guess that doesn’t do me much good now.  The 3000m is run first, so that will be a good warmup….

3000m – 200m – 1500m – 100m – 800m (400m for the sprinters).  About an hour break between races, everything age graded to level the playing field.  It’s like being a one-man high school track team, top age graded total score wins.  Simple to figure out, not so simple to run.  Kyle Mecklenborg puts on a great event with the support of Greater Philly, so hopefully the weather cooperates and the event is as good as it has been in the past.  The word is definitely out though, and the field is deeper than ever…

With the field entered, this should be a tough competition.  As always, I would not be getting up at 4:30 in the morning to go run this thing if I didn’t have my eye on the prize.  Anything south of first would be a disappointment, but since this event definitely has an interactive ‘fun’ to it as the scores are constantly updated I think that win or lose it will be an entertaining day of track.  Some of the loaded field are sprinters, so hopefully I can make some hay in the distance events and get enough points to offset the drubbing I am bound to take during the short stuff.  I think having run those three long events fairly hard last year gives me a good idea of how I can do this year – after busting the chops of sprinters all the time I hope throwing in a couple of “dashes” doesn’t wear me out at all.  How hard can 100 measly meters be?

I took it pretty easy this week – lifted hard early in the week, then got in the pool for some easy miles almost every day.  After the pentathlon I hope to shut it down and take a little break before getting in a couple good hard weeks leading up to the Fifth Ave Mile.  Saying I am going to shut it down and actually doing it are two different things though, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there, because there are no guarantees.  The other unfortunate end of summer rite of passage is me getting hurt then scrambling to get ready for 5th Ave – if that happens again I don’t know what will be worse, dealing with the injury or dealing with my dad, who is advocating I stick to the boycott.  75% effort, I promise….


About Nick Berra

I am a 45 year old masters runner from Central Pennsylvania. I have been participating primarily in track events since turning 40 in 2009. This season has produced marks that I have not run in several years, I believe primarily due to starting a strength and flexibility program here at Elite Athletic Performance - I've felt stronger and faster than I have in a long time. That, coupled with lots of underwater running, has kept me healthy and fit - at this age those are things I no longer take for granted... I run USATF events with a team out of Philadelphia, the Greater Philadelphia Track Club. They are a great group who have played a big part in making the sport enjoyable for me again. I also run local races for HydroWorx Track Club, supported by HydroWorx here in Harrisburg PA. Their underwater treadmills and training center has proved to be a crucial part of my training, rehabilitation, and recovery programs. I set personal records in the 800m (1:56.06) in 2010 and in the 1500m (4:02:63) and mile (4:23.48) in 2011. Despite the fact that I am not getting any younger, I nearly PR'ed recently and set the M45 indoor world record in the 800 meters at the New Balance Armory in New York City. I ran 1:56.10, besting the 9 year old record by less than a second. I feel like there are still more big things to come... I am married and have two daughters. I am an assistant XC coach at my alma mater, Cumberland Valley High School here in Mechanicsburg PA. I am also a 1991 graduate of the US Naval Academy, currently working as a pilot for FedEx after serving 10 years on active duty flying in the Navy. Beat Army! Beat Army!
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4 Responses to Five Times The Fun in Philadelphia

  1. You and Lorraine Jasper were sensational today, Nick; it would be hard to choose between you. However, you get the nod with your rocking 2:01+ in the 800 as your fifth race of the day. Hope you will publish the time; I think it was about 2:01.13.

  2. Nick Berra says:

    Anytime I share the stage with her is a good day for me. Thanks for coming out and for the usual superb announcing. You were a great addition to the event, I hope it becomes a tradition…

  3. Thank you, Nick. I shouldn’t say this, but as an announcer my favorite race is the 800. Why? 100 and 200 are too short, and the 400 is entirely in lanes, making it hard to call the order. In addition, in the 400 the leader after 250 meters is almost always the winner. The 800, in contrast, can be won by someone who leads all the way, by a runner who stalks the leader, by someone who sits in the middle of the pack, or even by the early trailer if the field is strong from top to bottom.

    The 1500 is a nice race, but it often lacks the drama of the 800. Regardless, thank you for your kind words (and those of your high-jumping wife), and I hope to do a good job next year.


  4. And I mentioned the 800 above because that seems to be the “signature race” for both you and Lorraine Jasper. Very difficult to pick a winner between the two of you, but fortunately we don’t have to do that on a routine basis. I hope Lorraine makes the Masters Hall of Fame in the future, and I think you will get to the Hall at some point as well, probably after Lorraine.

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