Yough River Trail Council schedules 19th annual Spring Race

| Monday, March 25, 2013, 7:36 a.m.

The Yough River Trail Council will hold its 19th annual Spring Race to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday.

The event is sponsored yearly by the council with proceeds going to help the organization maintain the trail and the equipment needed to keep the trail in good shape.

“Originally, the race was started as a half marathon by a group of running enthusiasts who were preparing for the Pittsburgh Marathon. It was held in March and the story goes that snow and ice had to be removed from the section of the trail they were using. Hopefully, that won't be the case this year,” said Ted Kovall, council president.

Participation in the half marathon dwindled over the years to the point that fewer than 100 participants came, Kovall said.

“When the Pittsburgh Marathon was discontinued for a few years, we changed our race to the 10-mile length to attract more participants. In 2008, participation increased to 196; 2009 brought 265, with 340 in 2010, 337 in 2011 and 390 in 2012,” he said.

Distance choices include a 10K Run; 5K Run/Walk; and this year, a 1-mile “Fun” Run/Walk for those who want to participate and get some exercise while they wait for their friends doing the longer races. The fun race will not be timed.

All participants will get a small refreshment when they finish. The race course is the bike trail. Registration and finish are at Yough River Park with timing by SERJ.

“This is a good family activity. We appreciate the support of the community and those who come from long distances to participate,” Kovall said. “We have been holding it on the day before Easter and that has worked well.”

Volunteers are needed to help with registration, water stops, timing, refreshment serving and general cleanup.

“Over the years we have had wonderful volunteers that help make this fundraiser a great success,” Kovall said. “We will also need volunteers to help prepare the area a few days ahead to make sure the race section of the trail is in tip-top shape.” Those who can volunteer should call Kovall at 724-628-6078.

Bill Swan of Connellsville bikes often on the trail.

“It's great exercise for people of all ages and I meet people from everywhere while I'm on the bike trail,” he said. “As I ride, I see a lot of people. If I happen to see a couple or group that are stopped, I ask them where they are from and if they need anything or have any questions. I tell them about the restaurants in town and different things like that. It is amazing where people come from — out west, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., all over. It's unbelievable the walks of life people are from. I've met interesting couples, groups, retired folks, you name it, they've been through Connellsville on the bike trail.

“What those who live here don't realize is that our bike trail is known nationally. It's famous for being well-maintained and very scenic,” he said.

“The trail is a pleasure to walk on. I really enjoy it,” Nick Manzella, a regular trail user, said. “I often see the hardworking volunteers who keep it up, like Clyde Martz, Jim Haun and Ted Kovall. I thank them for the upkeep that makes it a great place to walk. I appreciate it. We're lucky we have this trail. It is gorgeous. I usually walk two miles headed north in the direction of the old distillery and it is fantastic. It is maintained beautifully. It's a great place to be and people should support it by using it and donating to the YRTC fundraisers.”

“An important group that has helped make this an annual success is our sponsors,” Kovall noted. “Many have been with us for all the years and they continue to support the YRTC each time we ask. A really big thank you goes out to each and every one.”

The sponsors' names will be displayed on the race results board and also on the race T-shirts, Kovall said.

“Entrants will receive one of our red shirts this year,” Kovall said.

Those who want to register before race day are encouraged to do so; the form is available on the website: Race day registrations will be welcome, but shirts may not be available that day.

“The annual spring races are our second biggest fundraiser and may soon be the biggest with your help,” Kovall added. “We also offer annual memberships to help support our work of trail maintenance of the Fayette County section of the Great Allegheny Passage trail. Membership forms are available by download on our website.”

Nancy Henry is a freelance writer.

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