Since its inception in 1978, Brian’s Run has weaved itself into the fabric of West Chester as one of the longest-standing community events in the area.
The annual race is celebrating its 38th year this Sunday at Henderson High School, with the 5-mile run starting at 1 p.m. The route runs through the northern neighborhoods of the borough before a fast 400 meter finish around the high school track.
With three kids races held before the 5-mile run and a 2-mile walk, this year’s Brian’s Run continues its tradition of bringing people together for a great cause.
The run that began almost four decades ago was originally a one-time fundraiser for Brian Batcher, a Henderson High School football player who had become paralyzed during a scrimmage.
To offset the outstanding medical costs, then race director Larry Brandon set the goal of having 200 runners to raise $500.
In its first year of existence, Brian’s Run raised over $20,000.
Batcher was overwhelmed by the support and asked for the race to continue on in support of others in need. Since then, the event has continued to donate thousands of dollars towards assisting those who are disabled in the community.
When participation began to decline a few years ago, former West Chester Councilman John Manion stepped in and became the new race director.
The first big change was the 5-mile route used today that replaced the previous 10k course in 2009. Manion then partnered with the Chester County Running Store and the strong community of runners in the borough to build excitement for the race, with this year’s event looking to build on an uptick in attendance at last year’s race.
Recent years have seen the money raised from Brian’s Run donated to causes like the One Fund for Boston, a fund which was set up to assist the victims and families of those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. Nine West Chester residents participated in that marathon, including Manion.
The stories from survivors of the bombings and those on the scene compelled Manion, who chose to donate the 2013 Brian’s Run proceeds to the One Fund. Runners and walkers turned up in hundreds to show their support, wearing high red socks and “Boston Strong” race shirts.
On Sunday, Brian’s Run looks to continue a tradition of bringing the community together. Registration for the event can be found online at the Chester County Running Store’s website, runccrs.com, and runners can also sign up in-person at the their 24B S. High Street location as well.
Packet pickup for the event will be available at the store on Dec. 10 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Day-of pickup and registration will be available at Henderson High School on the day of the race starting at 11:30 a.m.