Down a Notch

Rachel Carson Trail Challenge, June 19, 2010

The past few years have spoiled, and perhaps fooled, Challenge participants. The weather has been relatively benign, with high temperatures barely making it into the 80s and only an occasional rain shower. This year, however, was different. The high reached into the upper 80s as the sun blazed forth, wilting many Challengers. In the evening heavy rain fell, swelling creeks and drenching the weary. This served to knock our official (within 15 hours, 4 minutes) completion rate down to under 75%, the lowest since 2006. The overall completion rate was 77%.

It didn't help that the course length increased this year to 35.7 miles, up from 35.1 last year. Last year the trail was routed around the perimeter of the horse farm in Harrison township, at the request of the landowner. This year, the trail was moved off Butler Road in Springdale, due to safety concerns. These changes, plus the spur to get to and from the Agan Park checkpoint, added about a mile to the course since 2008. While we'd prefer to keep the trail the same each year (it makes more work for us when it changes), the safety of our hikers and the wishes of our landowners are paramount.

For the 18-mile Homestead Challenge, out of 193 who started, we had 127 finish within the allotted time of 7 hours, 51 minutes, just under 66%. Overall, a total of 175 eventually finished, or nearly 91%.

On the 8-mile Friends & Family Challenge, we had 29 groups start and all finished. Our efforts to better promote this event seem to be bearing fruit, as this was a big increase in participation from 2008, when we had 17 groups, and last year when we had 15.

We especially thank our volunteers for donating a slice of their lives to helping make the Challenge a success: Rachel Alker, Joyce Appel, John Armstrong, Cam Baker, Bob Bastone, Mary Bates, Tom Bates, Dewaine Beard, Bob Bereit, Jan Berg, Roger Blood, Bob Boehmer, Annie Brandt, Ben Brucker, Patty Brunner, Kelly Burgess, Sara Buyny-Brunazzi, Reanna Buzza, Sheri Buzza, Emily Cagwin, Pat Cancro, Brian Caskey, Mike Choma, Susan Claus, Meredith Colaizzi, Steve Conomikes, Adrienne Cook, Richard Cook, Emma Crist, Jim Crist, Lola Crognale, Mike Dailey, JoAnn Davis, Debra DeFazio, Bill Dietrich, Rob Dubas, Patricia Eckels, Don Erdeljac, Mark Eyerman, Dwight Fox, Michael Frere, Kathleen Ganster, Howard Ginsburg, Susan Gunter, Robert Habegger, Tim Hagan, Meg Hannan, Ron Hannan, Jerry Heckathorn, Paul Henry, Peggy Hoburg, Russell Hoburg, Jerry Hoffman, Jim Holloway, Tom Hultz, John Italiano, Amy Jones, Katie Jones, Larry Keller, Joe Kostka, John Kostka, Joe Kulbacki, Dave McConahy, Joyce McConahy, Melissa Minyon, Ceri Morgan, Tom Neff, Christina Nehrer, Tom Nehrer, Sara Nemmer, Kara Newmeyer, Joel Platt, Ben Primis, Annmarie Rice, Don Rice, Natalie Rice, Rose Rice, Dannielle Ripper, Eric Ripper, Denise Ropelewski, Amy Royer, Brian Rupert, Frank Russo, Paul Sauers, David Schramm, Susie Shages, Andrea Shymatta, Frank Siaca, Tiffany Small, Debbie Smiga, MaryAnne Stallworth, Mary Steele, John Stehle, Melissa Stokoski, Anastasia Stolz, Ezra Stolz, Jennifer Taylor, Bernadette Thompson, Greg Toumey, Doug Turner, Nathan Twichell, Lee Wagner, Michelle Wojnar, Sandy Wyke, Linda Xenophontos, and Carol Zellars.

We also thank County Parks Director Andy Baechle for his help, as well as North Park's Don Schmidt, and the crew at the Allegheny Fire Academy.