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)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Email Blast #3: Family Fun for a Good Cause

Hello everyone!

Twelve days to Race Day and we are super-excited to have two more sponsors on board: Allegheny Health Network Sports Performance manning the Athlete's Tent at the Finish, and Birdsfoot Golf Club with a generous donation of a $250 Golf Package for our Chinese Auction (more below)!

While runners and walkers are out on the trails collecting treats, getting fresh air and exercise, supporters will have plenty to do.

Check out the Free Kids Activities area in and around the Environmental Learning Center - there's balloon twisting, Monster Golf with neat prizes, a Halloween Tattoo Parlour and nature activities, including the chance to pet a friendly box turtle.

We all love to win and the Chinese Auction this year has over $1500 worth of goodies thanks to our generous sponsors including Venture Outdoors, the Children's Museum and Probikes and more. With fantastic raffle baskets such as "Coffee Lovers", "Get Fit", "Creative Canvas Paint, Sip & Snack" worth from $40 to $250, there's something for everyone. Bidders need not be present to win. The best part? Every raffle ticket you buy will help 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! The 50/50 Raffle will run simultaneously, so hit an ATM before you come out on race day and wear your lucky underpants. (If you run out of cash, no worries as we'll be set up to take credit cards too :))

Food, glorious food. Come hungry because this is going to be the best post-race food you'll find in this neck of the woods. In addition to the creepy treats to refuel with along the race route, and the usual 'water & banana' at the Finish, you'll want to head over to the Food Pavilion for a delicious hot meal, dessert and drink included in your race fee. Take your pick of:

  • Entree:
    • Grace's Wok Fried Rice (gf vegan option available)
    • Kathy's Famous Vegan GF Chili
    • J & S Pizza (thanks J & S!)
    • Jamie's Delicious Veggie Pizzas
  • Dessert:
    • Creepy Cupcakes
    • Fresh Fruit Cups
    • Witches Finger Cookies
    • Pie
    • Assorted cookies
  • Drink:
    • Witches' Brew
    • Mauled Apple Cider
    • Coffee
    • Coke
    • Hot Chocolate
The Vendor and Sponsor Booths this year includes Elevate Sport & Spine Center with Dr John Kuruc providing free muscle treatments, Health Pyramid Longevity & Vitality Center with Dr Emily Paskorz with Snackster Sam a monster on a mission to help kids find the best snacks, The Foundation for Wellness Professionals with free chair massages and mini health screening, Songs for Young Whippersnappers with Valerie Williams and many more. Thanks for visiting our vendor and sponsor booths!

We'll send out the final email blast next week, but here's wrapping up today with a Big Shout Out to the 76 volunteers signed up to help out for our race. Volunteers do the million and one things that make this race happen. We are so grateful for our dedicated and enthusiastic team this year that supports our goal to bring this family-friendly outdoor trail event to the communities in Pittsburgh and beyond!

Till next week,

Happy Trails!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Email Blast #2: Race Course Updates & Other Good Tidings

Hello everyone!

Twenty days to Race Day and we are thrilled to report that Probike & Run has joined us as the Official Fitness Competition Sponsor! (more on that later)

The Race Course is looking great, thanks to hundreds of volunteer hours put in by the crew, including an epic move of a ½ ton bridge recently.

If you’ve done it before, you’ll know both the 5K and 10K are hilly but the views are spectacular up the ridgeline overlooking the Allegheny River. Our three year-old girl ran-walked it last week, so, fun walkers should be fine. Just go slow. The 5K aid station is at the 2.5km mark while the 10K route has a second aid station at 7.5km. Friendly park rangers will be there to dispense first aid and a variety of monster munchies including witches finger cookies pictured below.

Check out the 5K route and the 10K route. It’s a hilly, speedy run. The 10K course record is held by Justin Weaver at 40:43.9 while the 5K course record is 26:46 set by 13 year-old Adam Morrison (More HERE). Reminder: Pre-run is on 10/23 10 am (also the sole opportunity to register in person pre-race).

At the Finish Line, runners will surrender their timing chips. A Medic Tent and refreshment table with bottled water and bananas will be located at the Finish Line.

Of the fabulous post-race activities lined up for you and your family (last week we covered the Costume Contest), the Fitness Competition is a good fun five minutes! You’ll do as many reps as you can in one minute for each of these: pullups, situps, pushups and box jumps. Points are added if you did the 10K or 5K, and the “Plank Off” at noon adds more points for plank time. A grand trophy will be awarded to 'Fittest Male' and to the 'Fittest Female' (ages 13 and up). 'Ms Fit Jr' and 'Mr Fit Jr' medals awarded to 1st place male and female (ages 12 and under). A special prize of a $25 Probikes Gift Card goes to the person with the longest plank time! (More info on scoring HERE)

Tomorrow 10/10 is the last day to sign up that guarantees your t-shirt size choice. Please email us to get your special family discount coupon code! We want to encourage everyone to come out for this festive community event that we put on to fundraise for Scout projects in the Park. Thanks heaps for your support!

Till next week’s update, Happy Trails!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Email Blast: Race T-Shirt, Pre-Run & Other Important Updates

Hello everyone!

With less than a month to Race Day, prep is moving into high gear. We have some great updates for you in this email blast.

Check out this year’s race shirt! A creepy-cool design by DuoDesigns Co. printed on quality Next Level brand shirts in men, ladies and youth sizes... You’ll want to register before 10/7 to be guaranteed the shirt size of your choice.

Pre Run the 5K or 10K course on 10/23, Sunday. A registration counter will be open 9.30–10.00 am for those of you who want  to sign up for the 5K or 10K run. The pre-run starts 10.00 am. Please let us know if you wish to participate in the pre-run!

Please note that registration for runners ends on 10/23. Registration on the day of the event is for walkers only ($10 gets a hot meal but no shirt or timed race). In line with encouraging families to participate, please ask about our family discount for three or more members in a household.

We are incredibly excited about the Chinese Auction, Fitness Competition, Costume Contests, Vendors, Food and FREE Kids Activities lined up for everyone to enjoy. In the next two email blasts leading up to Race Day 10/29, we will be highlighting some of these awesome activities. Here’s the first Feature…

The Costume Contest offers the following categories you can enter your costume for: Scariest, Cutest, Funniest, Couple/Group and Owner-Pet. First prize winners in each category snag a delicious homemade pie and trophy, while Best Overall Costume wins pie, trophy and a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Open to all participants, judging starts 8.30 am till 11.45 am.  It’s fun and it’s free, just do it!

Sharon Ellis head judge with Costume Contest prizes: H20 won Best Couple/Group, Hunter Nielen ‘Scariest Costume’, Cookie Monster ‘Cutest’ and Ben Edwards ‘Funniest Costume’.

Quick shout out to our generous SPONSORS. Our Title Sponsors this year are Eric Shick Insurance (Official Event Insurance Sponsor), The Goughler Family (Official Sponsors of the Timing Service), Brackenridge American Legion (Official Race Course Sponsor) and Grace's Wok (Food Sponsor). These and all our amazing sponsors (full list HERE) help us bring this wonderful family-friendly fundraising event to the community for the third year running!

Keep an eye out for next week's update!

Happy Trails!