Annual race keeps two area runners on track, giving back

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa.- Joan Osborne's life revolves around running today, but that wasn't always the case.

After she quit smoking and consequently gained weight, while in her early 30s, she began recreational running with friends and realized she liked doing so because it was a sport that didn't need winners or losers.

Since then this Berwyn resident has run in multiple marathons (including Boston's, twice), earned a master's degree in Exercise Physiology, been a running coach and race director, founded Fast Tracks, a running club based out of Valley Forge National Historical Park and is co-owner of The Running Place in Newtown Square.

It's through Fast Tracks that she came to be a guiding force behind the annual Valley Forge Revolutionary 5-mile Run, produced by the Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau and being held Sunday, April 19, this year. Osborne was among the first supporters when the race was announced more than four years ago as a means of providing much-needed funding assistance for trail maintenance at Valley Forge National Historical Park.

"We had been running in the Park for years for free, but the money from the race was going to go back into the Park, so it seemed like it was our obligation to help out and give back," Osborne said. From the beginning, she's helped with many aspects of the Revolutionary Run, and at this year's event, she'll oversee the 3-mile walk and Youth Fun Run.

Over the four years, Osborne encouraged many others to get involved with the Revolutionary Run, including friend and fellow member of Fast Tracks, Keith Straw. He took up the activity eight years ago to stay in touch with his many running friends.

While Straw has participated in the Revolutionary Run, he usually runs longer distances. "The longer I go, the easier it is, because I don't have to run so fast," he said. A native of Nottingham, England, who currently resides in Malvern, he says he likes marathons because "you can finish them in a morning and still get to the pub for lunch." But his signature race is the ultra marathon.

In July, he'll participate in the Badwater Ultra Marathon, a 135-mile race through Death Valley in California, in which he was invited to participate after his third year of applying. He says this is "something you check off, ‘Yep, I did that.'"

Straw's personal philosophy is that running should be fun and even admits he sometimes runs dressed as a pink fairy. It's this lighter side he'll bring to the Revolutionary Run as this year's announcer. "I love being behind the microphone," he said. "Other people will do all the work for a change and I'll just get to talk about it."

Registration for the Mid-Atlantic USA Track and Field-sanctioned race is $25 for the five-mile run and $15 for the three-mile walk. The youth fun run is free. The event starts at 8:30 a.m. and also kicks off celebration of National Park Week.

For more information or to register, go to

The Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau, Ltd. is a nonprofit, membership-based sales and marketing organization that aggressively promotes the Valley Forge area and Montgomery County as a convention site and leisure visitor destination by encouraging patronage of its 500-plus member hotels, restaurants, attractions and services. The Bureau's Web site, at, serves visitors, meeting planners, tour operators and residents.

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