Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Race pics and Results Posted!

Thank you everyone for helping make this year's Halloween Trail Run the best one yet! Runners and walkers, hats off to you for braving the rain and even running the course in costume.. Volunteers and especially race committee members, thank you for all the work you put in for months before the event, during and after: trailwork, making food, finding sponsors and raffle baskets, designing and ordering t-shirts and event programs, trail pointing, judging, parking, organizing kids activities, registration, photography and all the million and one things that need done so the event goes smoothly - this event would not happen without all of you. Sponsors thank you for your generous donations towards this great cause, improving the Harrison Hills Park for the benefit of our community. I love that this event brings us all - families, young or old - together in the wonderful outdoors (yes, even in the rain!). 

Photos are posted!
Run start and finish and misc (Thank you Jennifer Stewart!)
Race pics costume contest and misc (Thank you Jackie Lindblad!)
awards pics mostly(Thank you Dave Brooke!)
And Race pics (Thank you Mike McNeil!)
Race results by Age group and overall


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Final Email Blast: Exciting Updates and Check In info

Two more days till Race Day and gosh are we excited! This last email blast covers Check-In, Trail Conditions, Basket Raffle offerings, Free Kids Activities, and FOOD!

Check-in starts 8 am at Yakaon Pavilion. This is the check-in procedure: We’ll have three lanes - last name A-E, F-M or N-Z. We’ll give you your chipped bib, t-shirt and food wristband. If you’re in costume, we’ll direct you to the judges table. Judges table is open from 8.30-11.30 am, and categories are: Funniest, Scariest, Cutest, Couple/Group, Owner-Pet. Best overall costume wins a $25 Amazon gift card! 

Trail conditions are currently superb, reports Spencer who is at this very moment leaf-blowing in the drizzle (talk about dedication ha!). It looks like Saturday may be wet and chilly, so come with rain gear and layer up! An extra change of clothing and shoes to be comfy while indulging in the post-race feast is recommended. 

Basket Raffle Offerings. We all love to win, and thanks to generous donors, we are thrilled to have over $1000 worth of wonderful prizes up for auction, including: Birdsfoot Golf Club Package worth $200, Carnegie Museums Family Membership worth $150, Children’s Museum family passes, Aim Yoga 10 free passes (worth $100), #1 Cochran free car detail (worth $180) and more. Bidders need not be present to win. The best part? Every raffle ticket you buy will hep fund Scouts projects that better our beloved Park for community use, and that makes you a winner whether you walk away with a prize or not! So, hit an ATM before coming, and wear your lucky underpants. (If you run out of cash, no worries as we’ll be set up to take credit cards too :)).

Free Kids Activities. Thanks to two amazing Girl Scout troops, there will be heaps of fabulous, fun and FREE kids activities happening in and around the Environmental Learning Center. A Halloween Tattoo Parlour, Monster Golf, Witches’ Ring Toss and more, with neat prizes! Nature Activities and tours of the Envrionmental are also offered by our friendly Park Rangers. 

FOOD! This year’s Post Race Feast is going to have the best food of any trail race in our neck of the woods. Happy Hippies have teamed up with the Cackling Witch to serve runners, walkers and supporters: Vegan gluten-free chilli, Grace’s Wok fried rice (vegan gf option available) with Spring roll and Wonton, Hot Dogs Done Right, and Hearty Hot Chicken Soup. Dessert picks are Halloween choc zucchini and banana cupcakes, home baked cookies and pies, and fresh fruit salad. Drinks offered are Witches’ Brew from a bubbling cauldron (ah refreshing!), hot chocolate, coffee, tea, and coke. 

We can’t wait to see you, your friends and family at this community event held in the beautiful Harrison Hills Park! 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Race Photos!

Photos by Jason Harrell are in!

Also in case you missed an earlier post - Mike McNeil's pics are here…

Last year's photos by Jason Harrell are HERE

I love taking photos, although am a total noob. I really appreciate the effort and time spent by our volunteer photographers to get the best shots capturing wonderful memories of our Halloween Race. Photos are precious! ... One of my favorite finisher photos (sharing below) was taken by a photographer friend at a triathlon in Desaru, Malaysia and I feel it captures how I felt crossing the finish line while battling autoimmune illness....  So, thank you photographers! 

If you have 3 minutes - help give us feedback - survey respondents get $5 off next year's race fees Thanks for your support!

Happy Trails!


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Race Director's Post-Race Note 2016

Race Director's Post-Race Note

Dear Race Participants,

Thank you all for coming out to support our 3rd Annual Harrison Hills 5K/10K Halloween Trail Run last Saturday! It was a joy to see entire families in costume, smiling faces of volunteers, and all of you enjoying what our beloved Harrison Hills Park has to offer. That perfect fall morning saw nearly 250 runners and walkers on the race course, taking in the crisp air and spectacular views of Allegheny River along the way. Afterwards, hungry athletes, supporters and volunteers helped demolish a mountain of ‘monster munchies’, and took part in the costume contests, fitness competition, Chinese Auction  & 50/50, free kids activities and more.

Ready, Set... GO! Matt Lipsey charges ahead to lead the 10K Start.

Figure 1 Best overall costume, Deacon Simko 'Snack vending machine'; 1st place trophies; 2nd & 3rd place medals; Blue Group; Best Owner & Pet 'Super family', the Jankowskis. Photos: Mike McNeil and Mike Kneiser
Costume contest results:

A slew of course records fell in both the 10K and 5K. Trail beast Matt Lipsey, 26, ran a zinging new 10K course record of 39:37 to take 1st overall. Womens 1st overall, Cara De Carlo, 38, returned to crush her own 10K record with 50:14 and 1st. Top runners in the 5K were Christopher Borland, 22, with 27:41 and Sara Weiland, 12, with 30:29 – a new course record. Macey Edwards is one to watch: at 7, she’s currently 2nd overall fastest female in the 5K, with 32:31, bettering her own 2015 PR by six minutes. Results at Smiley Miles 

Figure 2 Maxwell Weiland, 8, set a new 5K AG record of 32:32 for males under 10; Christopher Borland 22, James Fenn, 16 & Michael McNeil, 53, placed 1st, 2nd & 3rd overall 5K;  Tony Swierkosz, 51, 1st 10K AG and volunteer who has logged 100s of hours working on the trail; Paul Tyree, 68 and Steven Wise, 66, having a blast on the race course; Sarah Paladin, 29, en route to 1st 10K AG and new AG record 1:00.39; Sara Weiland, 12, 1st overall 5K and new course record 30:29; Don Goughler, 71, 1st 5K AG and a title sponsor of the race – Thank you Goughler family! Photos by Mike McNeil.

The Fitness Competition. Mark Karenchak, 51, after coming 2nd in the 5K AG, got in 20 pull-ups, 20 push-ups, 47 sit-ups, 19 box jumps (in 4 minutes), and out-planked younger competitors to be crowned Mr Fitness 2016. Miss Fitness, Jessi Drayer, ran a 10K (2nd overall), proceeded to do 30 pull-ups, 47 push-ups, 61 sit-ups and 50 box jumps, to set a new record of 264 points for females 13 and up. A thrilling Plank-Off that was especially heated among kids 12 and under, saw siblings Brock, 5, and Macey Edwards, 7, wresting Mr and Miss Fitness Junior, respectively. With plank times of 15 and 30 minutes and overall points of 312 and 594, these two have set records that’ll be tough to beat. Results at:

Deepest appreciation to our generous sponsors and donors for cash and in-kind contributions. Sponsor list: Key sponsors were Eric Shick Insurance, the Goughler family, Brackenridge American Legion, and Grace’s Wok. Citizens Hose Station #167 “The Birdville Brothers sponsored the ambulance service, while Allegheny Health Network Sports Performance sponsored the Athlete’s/Medic Tent. Birdsfoot Golf Club, Carnegie Museum, Children’s Museum and Venture Outdoors were among the generous donors to the Chinese Auction (pics below). Over $3000 was raised to fund future key Scout projects in the Park. To our 85 volunteers –including four wonderful Scout families and five Park Rangers–who helped before, during and after the event, you rock. Volunteer list: . Quoting Jacob Rees-Mogg, “People coming together as a community can make things happen.” All of you made this event the most successful one yet. Thank you.
 A few of the 20 raffle items up for bid at the Chinese Auction, made possible by generous donations from local businesses, organizations and individuals: Golf Club Package, “Pancake Breakfast”, “Coffee Lovers”, “Namaste” and “Fondue & Sweet Treats”.

I was happy with many aspects of the event but there is room for improvement. Based on helpful feedback from last year, we worked hard to ensure the awards ceremony started on time, as with all the other activities offered. There was a ten minute delay in the awards ceremony as the timing service discovered two 10K participants placing first in the 5K because they cut short their race. Also, despite our best efforts, the 7.5 km aid station that was supposed to be located at a key turn was inadvertently moved by the assigned ranger, causing a number of 10k runners to pass up that turn. I apologize if you were affected by this and will make sure it doesn't happen next year.

I hope you will continue to give your support by sharing your thoughts with us in the survey below. We need your valuable feedback on your event experience, to make next year even better. Survey respondents receive $5 off next year’s early registration fees: .

Happy Trails and see you next year!

Spencer Clark
Race Director


2016 Logos used on Medals and Race shirt were designed by Melanie Tan of Duo Designs, Malaysia

(A few more photos on the next couple of pages)

Follow us to receive updates and photos, including Jason Harrell’s 100s of race pics:
Event booklet:; Event website at:

Master of Ceremonies the one and only Mike Zewe, and Jan Clark, head judge for Costume Contest; chick & lamb at the autumn harvest photo booth; Beau, Brock & Ben Edwards at the haunted photo booth. Photos by John Clark, Jessica Frank and Taylor Edwards

Below: A dozen vendors and sponsors booths, including Dr Emily Paskorz from Health Pyramid Vitality and Longevity Center and Dr John Kuruc from Elevate Sport and Spine. Photo by Jason Harrell. Vendor list at:

Serving up some of the best post-race food in this neck of the woods. Jack-o-Lantern clementines and creepy bananas creatively stenciled by Girl Scout leader Jennifer Stewart and family; part of the dessert selections; Witches finger cookies made by Denise Blackburn & Mike Brown. Hungry runners went through 150 portions of Grace’s wok-fried rice, 150 portions of Kathy’s famous vegan chili, 80 slices of Jamie’s yummy cold veggie pizza, 64 slices of J&S pizza, 200 chocolate zucchini and banana muffins, 100 portions of fresh fruit salad, 40 slices of homemade pies (apple pies by Kathy Brooke and Reba Blackburn, pumpkin pies by Theresa Walker). Menu list at:

PITT Make-a-Difference-Day student volunteers helped spruce up the Environmental Learning Center and Outdoor Classroom for the event

Val Williams of Songs for Young Whippersnappers got the crowd moving, and kicked off the race with a performance of the Star Spangled Banner. Photo by Mike McNeil. 
 The Bradley family has been with us since the inaugural race in 2014. Photo by Mike McNeil.

Race participants are rewarded with a spectacular view of the Allegheny River and three surrounding counties, along the ridge line. Photo by Dennis Bauman.

Event Souvenir Booklet

A beautifully designed keepsake of your favourite Halloween Race, generously sponsored by Creighton Printing and the Brooke Family.

Event Souvenir Booklet (pdf download)

and below in photos:


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

New 10K Record Holder Matt Lipsey

Here's what the new 10K course record holder (39.37), Matt Lipsey, had to say about the run. Good work Matt, and thanks for the mention!
Spencer K. Clark puts on a great trail 5k / 10k event in Butler, Pa. The proceeds from Harrison Hills Halloween Trail Run 5K / 10K go to fund Boy Scout improvement projects in the park. As if you needed another reason to love it, I've never seen another form of recreation that gives back as much as running does. 
The trails are zinging fast, with just the right amount of mud. Two lengthy climbs and a nasty headwall on the 10k course along the ridge provided some truly beautiful views of Butler and its riverside community (including one hell of a mansion).
Harrison Hills has a way cool environmental education center and an impressive 15 miles of multipurpose singletrack touring the small community park. Can't believe I never checked it out while I was at Slippery Rock.

📷Mike McNeil

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Email Blast #4: Final important race updates

Hi everyone!

FIVE days to Race Day and we just added Nextier Bank to our list of generous sponsors, plus a $150 Carnegie Museums family membership to the Chinese Auction!

In addition to our Title Sponsors Eric Shick Insurance, The Goughler Family, Brackenridge American Legion, Creighton Printing and Grace's Wok, we want to appreciate some great sponsors supporting us through the years such as Penn State New Kensington, Health Pyramid Vitality and Longevity Center, Elevate Sport & Spine Center, Sarver True Value, JV Manufacturing, Creative Canvas, Aptech Computer Systems and Venture Outdoors. Thank you sponsors!

Housekeeping. Race Day Registration will be available for walkers and runners 8.00 - 9.45 am and you can save time on the day of by filling out the registration form available below. Shirts are available for walk-ins (runners) in limited quantities and sizes. If you pre-registered, head to the check-in counters to pick up your race packets (shirt, event program & goodies).

Parking and Directions. Parking is central, and right next to Yakaon Pavilion (see Activities At-a-Glance Map below - parking area is shaded gray). Yakaon Pavilion GPS coordinates 40.657120, -79.702943 . Entering the Park, keep left at the fork and take the first left, up the hill to Yakaon Pavilion and parking. When that parking fills up, park in the lower level at the turn off to Yakaon Pavilion.

Costume Contest Judges Table opens 8.30 am, so present your best costume before Race Start (10.00 am). Pick a category to compete in: Cutest, Funniest, Scariest, Owner-Pet, Couple/Group, give your entry a creative name and get judged! Judges Table closes 11.30 am, so you can also get judged after your run. 

Fitness Competition also opens 8.30 am. Walkers are encouraged to get your 4 minutes of pushups, pullups, situps and box jumps in before the Race Start. Runners, head over to the Fitness Station for your 4 minutes, as soon as possible after your run finish. Station closes at 12.00 pm, and the Plank Off takes place at the Awards Area 12.05 pm. Longest plank gets a special prize!

Vendors and FREE kids activities open 9.00 am, all the way through 1.00 pm. There will be free muscle treatments (Elevate Sport & Spine), Snackster Sam helping kids to find the best snacks (Health Pyramid Longevity & Vitality Center), free chair massages & health screenings (The Foundation for Wellness Professionals), kids music and movement sets (Songs for Young Whippersnappers) and much more! Full list of vendors HERE.

Chinese Auction and 50/50 Raffle tickets available 9.00 am thru 12.00 pm. Drawing for 50/50 is 12.00 pm (must be present to win) while the Chinese Auction drawing is at 12.20 pm (need not be present to win). We are thrilled to have so many wonderful prizes up for auction and while I'm sure the Birdsfoot Golf Club $250 package will be popular, I'm definitely bidding for the Carnegie Museums family membership myself! 

The Athlete's Tent by the Finish Line is sponsored by Allegheny Health Network Sports Performance and Frank Valasquez will be on hand to take care of all you athletes. Citizens Hose Station 167 "The Birdville Brothers" have an ambulance on standby as well - Thank You! Friendly park rangers can administer first aid at the water & aid station on the 5K route, and also the 10K route.

AWARDS for runners are presented 11.30 am - 11.50 am, starting from the youngest age groups up. With Smiley Miles doing chip timing for runners this year, the Awards ceremony will start on time for sure!

To wrap up this final email blast, we want to appreciate all of you for coming out to support our race. From three years ago when 30 runners toed the start line, we have more than doubled our numbers every year, and this year will see over 300 participants at the Start. The outpouring of support for this modest Scout fundraiser to carry out projects that improve the Park for all of us to use... has been tremendous. This speaks to us as race organizers. We are after all just volunteers ourselves. We love  this 'hidden gem'-of-a-park tucked away in the northern reaches of Allegheny County, Pittsburgh and see in your support, a shared desire to connect with Nature and to help preserve this natural area for our children.

This Halloween Trail Run & Walk is a family-friendly outdoor/nature event like no other, that we can bring to our community thanks to sponsors, volunteers and you! At the heart of it, it's still a trail walk. We hope that you will delight in the fresh air, cool crisp weather, and spectacular red-orange-yellow fall vistas at Harrison Hills Park this Saturday.

See you there!
Spectacular view from the top of Ridge Trail (photo by Douglas Bauman)