A Decade of Mud

The 2019 Rachel Carson Trail Challenge

In the history of the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge, the years 2015 to 2019 may well be known as the mud era. When downpours persist for days and weeks, our normally arduous trail rises to a new level of difficulty. Challenge Day 2019 dawned with a slight chill and a forecast of sunny skies, moderate temps and gentle breezes. Friday’s brilliant sunshine and drying winds offered hope that our saturated trail might be more forgiving. No such luck!

A little mud never hurt anybody and besides, our regular hikers should be getting good at this. The quagmire began promptly in the Rocky Dell Run valley and blossomed in Crouse Run. The initial climb of Mt DiCio from Cedar Run Road was truly outrageous. As expected the Deer Creek valley appeared to have been recently submerged. And of course, the Murray Hill descent was greased lightning. A route adjustment in Harrison Hills Park introduced a wonderful bridge over the scenic duck pond along with a lengthy new stretch of ankle deep mud. Rookie challengers cross Freeport Road breathing a sigh of relief only to discover an additional two mile trek through this beautiful Allegheny County Park.

For the Full Challenge, we had 636 participants scan out at North Park, and 501 or 79% made it to Harrison Hills Park within the official time of 15 hours, 4 minutes.

For the 17-mile Homestead Challenge, we had 327 participants scan out at Springdale High School, and 183 or 94.6% reached Harrison Hills Park. Of those, 200 (61%) made it within the official time of 7 hours, 17 minutes.

For the 8-mile Friends & Family Challenge, 43 groups set out from Tarentum and all finished in Harrison Hills Park.

We are grateful 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 David Antonelli, Joyce Appel, John Armstrong, Alex Baker, Joanie Baker, Joseph Barkovich, Robert Bastone, Mary Bates, Tom Bates, Mitch Belanger, Sheila Bernardini, Brian Blankenship, Brenna Bogey, Joanna Boutilier, Charles Brethauer, Becky Brown, Patty Brunner, Jehnie Burns, Sheri Buzza, Cindy Callaghan, John Cancro, Michael Cannon, Valerie Carpenter, Becky Chambers, Jim Cibik, David Ciuchta, Karen Clarke, Lloyd Clarke, Meredith Colaizzi, Meagan Concannon, Adrienne Cook, Richard Cook, Thomas Cully, Mike Dailey, Michelle Dees, Suzanne Dees, Pamela Derby, Carrie Desalvo, Will Drexler, Karen Dukes, Sue English, Kristen Esposito, Kate Fissell, Matthew Fleeger, Nick Foulkrod, Dwight Fox, Sylvia Freeman, Mark Frey, Kate Gilson, Scott Gliebe, Don Goughler, Susan Goughler, Steve Graham, Lincoln Griffin, Pete Grittie, Shawn Hagan, Anne-Marie Hanzes, Gary Hayden, Louis Heinle, David Helwig, Paul Henry, Scott Hill, Jerry Hoffman, Jim Holloway, Sarah Horst, Kristen Hussar, Konrad Kammerer, Andrew Karnavas, Lauren Karran, Janice Keib, Keith Klos, Ryan Knecht, Jason Kodat, Abigail Kois, Mardelle Kopnicky, Patrick Kopnicky, Joseph Kostka, Leslie Kozler, Alynn Kramer, Charles Laymon, Carol Macphail, George Maier, Frank Matousek, Ken Matthews, Virginia Matthews, Jared McKee, Allison Monroe, Betsy Monroe, Kara Mostowy, Karen Muirhead, Bob Mulshine, Cathy Nader-Syiek, Marianne Neal, Amy Nelson, Kate Nicholson, Ruba Nicola, Tom Nolan, James Painter, Lindsey Papakirk, Niko Papakirk, Mathew Parker, Ann Paul, Ben Primis, Michael Rabinovitz, Lloyd Ray, Carri Reda, Deborah Sagan, Jeff Sarabok, Jen Sarabok, Ed Schmiech, Susan Shages, Kelly Shannon, Jillian Shumaker, Andrea Shymatta, Ann Marie Staniszewski, Donna Stolz, Ezra Stolz, John Stolz, Jennifer Stoops, David Syiek, Linda Szewczyk, Dorothy Tatrn, Deb Taylor, Ann Trevellini, Derek Wahila, Ruth Werne, Lindsay Whitney, Ryan Whitney, Shane Whitney, Jennifer Wimer, Carol Zellars, Sha Zhao, and Don Ziegler.

And we thank our generous sponsors:

  • Peoples
  • MacPhail - Soonthornchai Family
  • The Burke Family
  • BNY Mellon
  • On behalf of North Park Trail Runners
  • Grossman Yanak & Ford LLP
  • UPMC
  • William & Gay Stewart
  • Williams Coulson LLC
  • Hefren-Tillotson, Inc
  • Kate Fissell
  • Marburger Farm Dairy
  • Pro Bike + Run
  • REI
  • 3 Rivers Outdoor Company
  • Ashley and Tim Godisart
  • Blaze Advisors
  • Charlie & Paula Brethauer
  • Connie Eileen Elrick
  • Dirk Matson
  • Divorce Auditors
  • Event Planning Solutions, LLC
  • John & Donna Stolz
  • John & Tom Armstrong, Trail Stewards
  • Kevin Merritt
  • Michael Byers
  • Robert Reiland

—Tom Armstrong