Rambling Roads: December Runs

By George A. Hancock

December begins its 31-day run on a Wednesday this year. Our last 2021 month is filled with exciting events. The Christmas season is here. And then after Christmas we celebrate the beginning of a new calendar year.

December 1 begins the meteorological winter season. All official winter weather records are recorded between December 1 and February 28, 2022. This timespan allows for a definitive record-keeping system.

Traditionalists celebrate winter’s first day on Tuesday, December 21. This is our Winter Solstice. December 21 is the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere. However, runners and other outdoor enthusiasts rejoice after this day. Daylight begins to grow. Initially, the change is subtle. Runners really notice the daylight difference by mid-January.

December’s daylight calculator is disconcerting. This data is from my Greater Johnstown, PA region. The sunrise and sunset data is very similar across the Middle Atlantic region. Our sunrise on December 1 happens at 7:18 a.m. Sunset that day occurs at 4:49 p.m. This means December 1 has a mere 9:31 daylight hours.

December’s last day finds sunrise at 7:37 a.m. Sunset happens at 4:59 p.m. We see 9:21 hours of daylight time. Yes, December is a dark month. However, there is no need to begin couch-hibernation status. Outdoor opportunities abound in our region. One needs to make a few adjustments, wear the proper clothing and foot gear and get outside.

Perhaps, the best reason to get outside is simple. December brings our Christmas holiday season. Our final 2021 month is filled with delightful holiday events. The two main events that garner the most publicity are Christmas and New Year’s. Yet, there are other celebrations occurring during December.

December is another great month for the running crowd. Morning and evening runners experience the full Christmas display scene on their runs. Many folks really decorate their homes, businesses, parks, and numerous other things during this gala season. The sights and sounds on the run are impressive.

Johnstown, PA’s downtown Central Park features a huge elaborate pulsating tree. Christmas music is synchronized with those brilliant lights. It’s always an impressive sight. The park also has numerous other decorations that attract visitors from all over the region.

The Greater Johnstown Running Club (JRC) schedules many group runs that begin and finish near the tree. The running crowd is rewarded with a nice visual experience.

Several miles away Windber Borough also has an impressive Christmas display along Graham Avenue. The decorated gazebo near the borough building attracts inquisitive crowds. Runners and walkers congregate and pass by taking in these seasonal sights.

My December running routes have several homes that feature excellent decorations and lights. Although December is a dark month, these twinkling lights brighten my morning runs. I really appreciate these displays. These dazzling light displays help the outdoor road gang navigate December’s dark month.

Sure, some normalcy returns after these seasonal holidays. We face the remaining winter months with its uncertain weather patterns out on the open roads. Staying weather-aware helps runners navigate the cold snowy conditions. Or, cold dry roads if our mild winter pattern continues into 2022. This runner is okay with mild winters. I do have the right clothing and shoes for adverse wintry road conditions. However, I’m okay with Mother Nature’s mild winter.

December is a superb holiday month. December is also a great month for running. December offers opportunities for family and friends gatherings. Some of these gatherings can take place out on the local roads. Group runs aimed at viewing the Christmas lights and displays are always picture perfect. Even a solitary run near the Christmas lights is nice.

As December winds down we prepare for year 2022. Runners will tabulate their running information. How many miles were run, the races completed, and other interesting running data will be noted in the expiring 2021 running log books.  Racers will examine the upcoming race schedule. Training schedules are formulated for the new year. Perhaps, running gear and shoe orders are placed.

December runs are unique. We end one year while preparing for the next. Running, like calendars or life, continues on. Run well, run smart!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Greater Johnstown!

Beautiful wreath and photo by Karen Knuepfer

Categories: Features

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