Boomers Keep Booming

The 2023 Rachel Carson Trail Challenge, June 24

Veteran Challengers often monitor the weather forecast well in advance of our big day. Ten days before the '23 Challenge the forecast for June 24 was ominous: thunderstorms and lightning, which meant, of course, a muddy trail. As the Challenge approached, the forecast brightened with cloudy skies, moderate temps, and perhaps a shower.

In mid afternoon, that possible shower arrived for many in the form of a heavy downpour which altered the strategies for hikers descending our hills, particularly the iconic Rich Hill. These hikers could be identified with a large swath of western Pennsylvania topsoil on their posteriors because they descended Rich Hill the only way possible. A female hiker was heard to shout, "What am I doing here?" We sure know how to have fun!

We must once more applaud the hard work of Mark Eyerman and countless volunteers who replaced three road sections with marvelous new trails. These new trails have raised the RCT to an elite level often offering breathtaking views of the Allegheny River and distant hills.

Seven hikers at least 70 years old finished the Challenge showing continued vitality of the Geezer division. Christopher Press, 70, led the geezers with a top 100 finish of 10:50, followed by Bob Webb, 72, with a youthful 12:19, then rookie geezer Doug MacPhail a veteran of many Challenges. James Antoniono has again raised the bar by being the first hiker to finish at age 77, marking his fifth consecutive time as the most senior Full Challenge finisher. Congratulations James! Debra Cully, 70, was the sole lady geezer, finishing just behind James.

For the 37-mile Full Challenge, we had 608 participants scan out at Harrison Hills Park, and 508 or 83% made it to North Park within the official time of 15 hours, 4 minutes. This finishing rate is identical to last year.

For the 19-mile Homestead Challenge, we had 298 participants scan out at Springdale High School, and 284 or 95% reached North Park (slightly better than last year). Of those, 229 (77%) made it within the official time of 7 hours, 54 minutes (better than last year's 74%).

For the 7-mile Friends & Family Challenge, 49 groups set out from Hartwood Acres Park toward North Park and all finished.

Our sincere thanks goes to the many volunteers who make this event possible. Our trail stewards spend countless hours preparing for the Challenge, and on Challenge Day many more help, including Eve Alden, Tom Alden, John Armstrong, Gary Astor, Alex Baker, Joanie Baker, Lori Basch, Shel Basch, Robert Bastone, Mary Bates, Tom Bates, Phil Bautista, Lisa Beers, Stephen Beers, Diana Berendowski, George Berendowski, Charlie Brethauer, Becky Brown, Patty Brunner, Sheri Buzza, Kevin Cavanaugh, Kiersten Cavanaugh, John Celesti, Heather Cianfrocco, David Ciuchta, Kielie Ciuchta, Kristine Clark, David Colledge, Ben Collins, Adrienne Cook, Richard Cook, Jim Crist, Kerri Cummings, Mike Dailey, Ryan Davis, Tom Davis, Brooke Decker, Jon Decker, Suzanne Dees, Pamela Derby, Joe Desantis, John Desantis, Natalie Devine, Carla Dillner, Pratiksha Dixit, Gineen Dutkovic, Alexandra Edgecombe, David Edmonds, Rachel Faas, Kate Fissell, Laurel Frey, Mark Frey, Scott Gliebe, Steve Graham, Mike Griffin, Bowen Griffith, Bristol Griffith, Matt Griffith, Jamie Grippin, Allison Gundlach, Deanna Hanna, Maggie Hewitt, Melissa Hickman, Scott Hill, Jerry Hoffman, Jim Holloway, Sarah Hook, John Italiano, Mike Kalanish, Andrew Karnavas, Michal Kawecki, Jason Kodat, Janeen Kotick, Alynn Kramer, Vera Krekanova, John Krofcheck, Sandy Kunvatanagarn, David Lane, Chris Link, Mary Lococo, Mike Luxemburger, George Maier, Jason Maruccio, Frank Matousek, Janey Mazur, Lee Mcintire, Mike Mcneil, Suzanne Meyer, John Michael, Bethany Molnar, Christina Montemurro, Heather Morgan, Ishana Morgan, Kara Mostowy, Karen Mueller, Karen Muirhead, Bob Mulshine, Cathy Nader-Syiek, David Oliver, Jeanette Oliver, Eileen Owen, Rick Parker, Kristin Patterson, Ben Primis, Nick Primis, Jay Rajgopal, Kathy Rankin, Lloyd Ray, Colleen Rekowski, Tom Rekowski, Becki Riberich, Richard Rosenthal, Amy Roth, Deb Sagan, Jordan Sanders, Timothy Sarver, Killeen Schlegel, Edward Schmiech, Ann Sippel, Lauren Smith, Ann Marie Staniszewski, Holly Stefanski, Patrick Stofanak, Donna Stolz, John Stolz, Larry Stolz, Chris Sweet, David Syiek, Dorothy Tatrn, Brianna Tola, Chris Traynor, Kaitlyn Wagner, Sarah Walker, John Warrick, Tim Weese, Valerie Welsh, Rachel Yonan, Rachel Yonan, Donna Zacher, Spencer Zacher, Don Ziegler, and Judy Ann Ziegler.

And we're grateful for all of our generous sponsors, especially Peoples Gas and Dolgos Marketing & Design. See the main page of our website, or the back of your shirt, for the complete list!

—Tom Armstrong