Friday, August 31, 2012

Blackhand Gorge Trail Series 2012

This past weekend marked the first annual Blackhand Gorge Trail Series running event put on by the Friends of Blackhand Gorge. The event took place at (where else) Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve. The purpose of the race was to raise money for the preserve in order to maintain the preserve and restoring structures that have been decaying over time. The event was a smashing success and the friends group was able to race $2,000 for our cause.

The race had 5 local sponsors who contributed money and supplies for the event:
Our logo was designed by Hyrographix Design. Jonathon does amazing work! He designed the race logo above. He's also designed our Friends Group logo as well (showcased at the bottom of this post). Jonathon does high quality graphics design, and right here in Newark, Ohio! Thanks Jonathon!

This years event offered 3 distances: 5K, 10K, and 20K. The 5K course took runners around the old quarry pits on the south side of the Licking River. The 10K course had runners ascend 400 ft of elevation in less than 1/4 mile. From there runners traverse through the woods along a grueling terrain of old rock beds and along sloped terrain. The 20K course allows runners to see all of the beauty that Blackhand Gorge has to offered along the south side of the Licking River.

20K Leader

The 20K race started at 8:30am, followed by the 10K at 8:45, and the 5K at 9am. Runners started showing up around 8am, while I was still putting out some last minute signs along the course. Volunteers kicked in took charge of everything that was needed. Parking seemed to be no problem. Registration appeared to be going smoothly, and runners were mingling waiting for their start.

Race Parking near Blackhand Gorge

Blackhand Gorge Trail Series race was my first race as a Race Director. I really enjoyed the whole experience and it truly was a dream come true for me. I've been running these trails for years and have always thought about how cool it would be to show other people how amazing Blackhand Gorge is. My passion is running, so a running event was the perfect thing for me, and it proved to be quite a successful event. I learned that Race Directors do a lot more than just send runners on their way at the starting line and shake their hands when they finish. There were a few sleepless nights thrown in there prior to the event, and I loved every minute of it!!

There were so many volunteers on race day that it was almost overwhelming. Everybody seemed to have a great time and the community really came together. Bill Weaver had an old student of his come in from out of town and ran the 10K. He had never run a trail race before and said he loved it! He lives in Chicago, IL and happend to be in town, so he signed up on a whim. He got 3rd place 10K finisher award! We sure hope he comes back next year and claims his 1st place plaque. :)

Button Bush Trail meets Quarry Rim Trail

Jennifer brought the girls to the race. It was their first 5K ever. I was so proud of them and will remember this day for the rest of my life. They were all so proud to cross the finish line, and I gave them all a big hug. Jennifer and Janet were the local comic relief party. They showed up with the giggles and left with the giggles. I expected nothing less! :)

My 5K Finishers!
Daizi, Jennifer, Lizzie, and Jazzy

1st and 2nd Place 
Goof Ball Award Winners

This was a huge success for The Friends of Blackhand Gorge!! It marks our first public event that raised money for the Nature Preserve. We have yet to determine how to use the money, but you can bet that we are already thinking about the next event. I have big plans for next years race, and there's been talk of a new Pedals to Paddles event. This event will allow participants to ride their bikes down the bike path for 4 miles, and then paddle a canoe back back down river to the finish line. This sounds like a really cool event and I'm excited for the friends group to begin planning it! This would allow Blackhand Gorge to showcase all of her natural beauty from both the old train tracks above to the old canal path below. A lot of history has passed through this place! Other events include evening hikes by moonlight and even dog walks down the bike path. These are all just ideas for now, but The Friends of Blackhand Gorge are all very passionate about doing all we can to support our cause.