Mudapalooza '03

The 2003 Rachel Carson Trail Challenge

It was a rainy, cool spring in Pittsburgh this year and the summer solstice was no exception. It rained periodically the week leading up to the Challenge, including Challenge eve and Challenge day, which made some streams swell considerably and turned them from mere trickles to knee-deep torrents. It also turned much of the first half of the trail into a slippery, muddy mess that made the trek either hilarious or harrowing, depending on your perspective. A few Challengers experienced injuries due to the conditions; one had to drop out after about 3.5 miles because of a twisted ankle. Others took advantage of the conditions for fun, subjecting their buddies to a push in the mud for a mud bath.

The crossing of Deer Creek in Emmerling Park proved to be the most daunting. In May, Don Erdeljac, the Challenge Field Director, placed large rocks in the creek as stepping stones, but the rain kept coming and these were regularly submerged. The day before the Challenge, Indiana Township manager Dan Anderson's crew fashioned a makeshift bridge by stringing wooden pallets together with a rope. This effort, too, was thwarted as it rained that night and swelled the creek even more. The pallets were in total disarray with most completely submerged, and the rope stretched and strained from the force of the water. Dan assures us the bridge the Township wanted to have installed before this Challenge will be installed before the next one!

The slick conditions made it more difficult to ascend some hills. Several Challengers reported they'd get partway up Log Cabin Hill (just beyond Checkpoint 2) and start sliding back down! Challenge veteran Barb Peterson reports she had one friend pulling her and another pushing her at one point.

The weather was very similar to the 2001 Challenge, and a striking contrast from last year. Last year was dry, sunny and hot — it reached 90 degrees. This year was wet, overcast and cool — it only reached 65 degrees. The cool conditions compensated for the trail conditions and allowed many people to finish, and some to set record times.

We had 395 people head out on the trail this year and 254, or just over 64%, finished. About 60%, or 236, finished within the allotted time of 15 hours 4 minutes.

The winners of the prize raffle are:

218Lee, BrianDick's Sporting Goods $25 Gift Certificate & Hostel stay
398Yurkovich, MatthewEMS Waterslide hydration pack & Hostel stay
3Agin, JerryDick's Sporting Goods $25 Gift Certificate
447Hartman, CoryEMS lumbar hydration pack
65Cohen, YaleDick's Sporting Goods $25 Gift Certificate
217Lechwar, BradleyEMS Flume hydration pack
94Drum, David Dick's Sporting Goods $25 Gift Certificate
419Witowski, DebraEMS Flume hydration pack
306Riley, JamesDick's Sporting Goods $25 Gift Certificate
312Rzewski, AlexisEMS Flume hydration pack

Our volunteers did another great job this year! Thanks to Jacqueline Barrow, George Bender, Merry Brumbaugh, Susan Brumbaugh, Patty Brunner, Leah Cohen, Denise Cox, Jim Drummond, Stan Drutis, Emily Duda, Franca Duda, Rudy Duda, George & Susie Dull, Kate Fissell, Jean Gasper, Mike Gasper, Tena Gasper, Lisa Geyer, Missy Geyer, April Gottschalk, Tim Henigin, Grace Henning, D. Charlene Hindman, Hillary Hindman, L. Breanne Hindman, Denise Hluhan, Charity Istone, Keith Kriger, Lyn Lang, Kirby Lynch, Mark Murtha, Melinda Pelkey, Diane Pfischner, Norma Raiff, Richard Raiff, Missy Severa, Susan Shages, Annette Blanar Steadle, Mary Steele, Lea Stein, Tony Vinski, Mike Wozetek.

The Challenge is important because it provides our only source of funds to support maintenance activities on the Rachel Carson Trail and the Baker Trail. Please help us keep it going by volunteering or recruiting volunteers.

— Steve Mentzer
— Annette Blanar Steadle