New Otter Trot 5K series features 6 trail races |

New Otter Trot 5K series features 6 trail races

Jeff Himler
Conemaugh Valley Conservancy
An entrant departs a station near the former Patterson/Altman Mill during a past running of the West Penn Trail Triathlon in Saltsburg.

The Conemaugh Valley Conservancy is encouraging people to welcome spring’s return by signing up for its new Otter Trot series of 5K races along regional trails.

The six races, spaced over as many months, “seemed like a fun way to get people to explore the trails in the area,” while also promoting outdoor activity and physical fitness, said Douglas Beri Jr., an avid runner and board vice president of the Johnstown-based conservancy.

The race routes are spread along the Kiski and Conemaugh river valleys — where the conservancy focuses on recreational and conservation activities — and in nearby communities, ranging from Johnstown and Ebensburg in the east to Saltsburg and Murrysville in the west. The first race will be held April 27.

Prizes will be awarded to the top three male and female runners in each event. Walkers also are invited. Those who compete in at least four races will amass points toward overall series prizes for the top three male and female entrants.

“We started planning this at the end of last year,” Beri said of the series. “Our goal was to highlight the trails throughout the area.”

Otter Trot 5K Series races are scheduled for the following dates and locations:

• April 27 — Saltsburg section of the conservancy-operated West Penn Trail, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Saltsburg Playground.

• May 11 — Ebensburg section of the Ghost Town Trail, beginning at 9 a.m. at Ebensburg War Memorial Field

• June 8 — Riverside section of the James Mayer Trail, beginning at 8 a.m. on Thorn Place in Johnstown

• July 27 — Saltsburg section of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail, beginning at 8 a.m. at the Saltsburg Playground

• Aug. 24 — Blairsville section of the West Penn Trial, beginning at 8 a.m. at the Conemaugh Lake Recreation Area near Tunnelton

• Sept. 14 — Murrysville section of the Westmoreland Heritage Trail, beginning at 9 a.m. at Duff Park.

“The Conemaugh Valley Conservancy has been restoring our region’s waterways and creating parks, trails and river access points for the past 25 years,” Beri said. “This 5K series is a celebration of all that we’ve accomplished as an organization.”

Looking ahead , he said, “I see this event growing exponentially. Recreational running is a big thing in the area.”

Visit for more information on the races and to register.

Those interested in becoming a volunteer or a sponsor for the events may contact Chris Garbark at [email protected] or 412-908-2168.

The race series joins two other annual conservancy events that have grown in popularity.

The 20th annual Stony-Kiski-Conemaugh Rivers Sojourn, set for June 6-9, is a series of paddling trips between Johnstown and Apollo.

“We have over 100 registrations for that event, and it grew from hardly any when we started,” Beri said.

The 7th annual West Penn Trail Triathlon, slated for Oct. 12, combines a paddling leg on the Conemaugh River with bicycling and running legs on the trail.

“It’s an extremely well-received event,” Beri said. “We pull people from different states to participate in it.”

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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