For WV Striders, New Year's Day is for running

Jan. 1—WILKES-BARRE — The Wyoming Valley Striders running club kicked off 2024 with an informal runaround Kirby Park on Monday.

Dozens of runners, dressed for the gloomy winter weather in long socks, gloves and hats, gathered in the parking lot around noon, where members took the opportunity to pay their dues and mingle with fellow runners before the event began.

2024 marks the 39th year of the New Year's Day Informal Run, where runners were given the opportunity to run at any speed or distance they want.

"It's looking good. I'm seeing a lot of new faces," said WVS Secretary and Informal Run Coordinator Linda Wojnar-Krasnavage.

When asked what she was most excited for in the upcoming year, Wojnar-Krasnavage, whose father was one of the co-founders of the Striders, said she was eager to start planning the 50th anniversary celebration of the running club for 2025.

"It is a very big milestone," she said, noting that the WVS is the oldest continuously operating running club in the Wyoming Valley.

Mallory Urbanski, 39, of Forty-Fort, and Wendy Novicki, 40, of Luzerne, have been friends for 10 years and members of the WVS for the past three. Both agreed that the informal run signals a fresh start for 2024.

"It's motivation for the new year," said Urbanski.

Patty Phillips-Pavlock, a long-time WVS member and former board member, said she really enjoyed how casual the run was. Compared to how stressful races can be, the informal run was an opportunity to socialize.

"It's great to talk to people. At the races you're so nervous that you're not talking to anyone," said Phillips-Pavlock, 68.

The Hanover Township resident has been running since 1984, when she saw Joan Benoit Samuelson cross the finish line of the first Olympic marathon women were allowed to run in.

She joined the Striders because it was a great way to get information on upcoming races in the days before the internet made that information easily accessible.

"They put out a newsletter every month and you could see your results, so that was really cool," she said.

Phillips-Pavlock is looking forward to lots of training in the new year, gearing up for the Steamtown Marathon in October. As one of two women who has ran in all of the Steamtown Marathons, she plans to continue that tradition in 2024.

Michael Fender, 56, of West Wyoming, attended his very first WVS Informal Run on Monday. Fender has been a member for the running club for two years and said he loves being able to attend the races that the club sponsors.

Fender has accomplished a lot since getting into running three years ago as a form of exercise after he gained weight during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2024, he plans to run his first full marathon.

"I just want to stay consistent and stick with it."