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Camp Olympic hosts Katherine Switzer and Roger Robinson for Jack Pressmann cross country race

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Roger Robinson raced cross country for 30 years at the elite masters levels as few others have, garnering masters world championships in both cross country and road races, as well as setting masters records in marathon races in Boston, New York and other places.

Katherine Switzer made history as the first woman to legally run the Boston Marathon, even though one of the organizers attempted to pull her out of the race.

The two running icons plan to be in Emmaus Aug. 8-9 to help celebrate the official opening of the new cross country course at Camp Olympic in Lower Macungie Township with the staging of the Jack Pressmann XC Invitational and Team Relay on Aug. 9.

On Aug. 8, the pair of celebrated runners and entrepreneurs will preview the film, "Spirit of the Marathon II," which follows seven marathon hopefuls attempting to conquer the Rome Marathon. Jon Dunham produced and directed the film, which takes his original documentary many steps deeper into the psyche of marathoners.

The private preview party and meet-and-greet, limited to 50 people, costs $40 and will take place at Emmaus Run Inn.

But that's not the only reason that Robinson, who writes for Running Times, and Switzer are on the road to Emmaus in August.

"The motive for coming to Emmaus was not mainly business," Robinson said during a phone interview last week. "Budd has been creating the course down there, and it's something I've always been interested in, writing about creating special venues."

Budd is Budd Coates, the former elite U.S. marathoner and senior director of health and fitness at Rodale Inc., which publishes Runner's World, Running Times and other magazines. He designed the course — actually several courses — at the Lower Macungie park.

"When Budd told me he was having this special event for cross country, I said I wanted to come," Robinson said.

He and Switzer have been partners on a number of ventures over the years and feel "Spirit of the Marathon II" takes viewers — even non-runners — into relatable places.

"There are some not-so-sweet stories, some dark stories," Switzer said of the film. "There is a woman from Rwanda who escaped genocide there."

Robinson said: "It's about what happens to runners in the race. Out of the seven runners, three of them were all really happy at the end, three had reservations and one didn't finish at all. It's a risk the filmmakers took, and it's an intelligent film for that reason. It's the marathon."

He's most excited about seeing the Camp Olympic course.

"Road running is just that," he said. "It uses a facility and leaves nothing behind. Cross country is a course in a setting. Running has gotten so big that maybe it is time to create our own venues like other sports have."

The Jack Pressmann XC Invitational and Team relay begins at 9 a.m. Aug. 9 with the relay event for four-person teams. Middle-school boys and girls will compete four laps of a half-mile loop, with high school teams competing four laps on a 1.5-mile loop. An open 5K invitational begins at 10:30 a.m.

The event is sponsored by Emmaus Run Inn with proceeds going to the Jack Pressmann Scholarship Fund as well as Central Catholic and Emmaus cross country booster clubs.

To enter the races or register for the viewing party, call the Emmaus Run Inn at 610-966-9939.

Switzer also plans to check out the Rodale offices. While she has done work with Rodale, she has never been to the corporate offices.

"We're really going there to be a part of what Budd is doing for the kids and the event, to support Runner's World and to see Emmaus," Switzer said.

Guns and running: Learn what the sport of biathlon is all about at 8 a.m. Saturday at Whitetail Preserve, 118 Boulevard Road in Bloomsburg. A special clinic for the running-shooting summer version of biathlon kicks off at 8 a.m. followed by a competition at 9:15 a.m. Registration fee is $20, but competition for the 19-and-under scholastic division is free.

All the equipment and instruction is provided by the Pennsylvania Biathlon Club. For registration information, contact Frank Gaval at 570-788-4219.

Lehigh Wheelmen events: The Lehigh Wheelmen have two fun events coming up in September that are worth penciling in on your calendar.

The 2014 Donut Derby 9 a.m. on Labor Day, Sept. 1, is a 36-mile race with a twist. You get three minutes' time credit for each doughnut you eat at stops positioned at mile markers 12 and 24. Doughnut-adjusted time determines the winner in several age categories, and if you have room afterward, there is lunch during the award ceremony.

The ride starts and finishes at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, Trexlertown. Register at http://www.bikereg.com/lwa-donut-derby. Cost of the ride is $25, and the registration deadline is Aug. 24. No registrations on the day of the event.

The Gap Gallop Century takes place Sept. 14 from DeSales University, featuring multiple routes of 33, 48, 83 and 103 miles. The routes take you on scenic low traffic roads to Portland and back, with an optional climb of the notorious Fiddler's Elbow. A delicious post-ride meal will be offered at the DeSales finish. Preregister at http://www.bikereg.com/lwa-gap-gallop.

Fall bicycle racing league: Registration is open for the fall Red Robin Marty Nothstein Bicycle Racing League that takes place at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Trexlertown.

The $75 entry fee includes professional-level coaching from Olympic gold medal winner and VPCC executive director Marty Nothstein and his USA Cycling-certified coaches, track time at North America's premier cycling venue, use of track bikes and helmets, an authentic team jersey and a $25 Red Robin gift card.

To register, go online to https://www.bikereg.com/2014-fall-brl.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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