Upcoming Trail Race to Support Watoga Park

In this year of tight State budgets, it is refreshing to see that the Watoga State Park Foundation, a group of concerned citizens, is doing its part to financially support Watoga which is the largest State Park in West Virginia. David Elliott from the Foundation explains about the race.

“The race is the Watoga State Park Mountain Trail Challenge” said Elliott. “It’s actually two races for trail runners, running on the trails at the park that were built by the CCC. There are 44 miles of trails in the park. We only need enough to put together a half marathon, which is 13.1 miles and a 5K race, which is 3.1 (miles). (It’ll) be on August 13th. Because it might be warm then, the races will start at 8:30 in the morning.”

David talks about who can participate in the races.

“Anyone who wants to sign up and pay a registration fee” Elliott said. “We’ve had really good responses for the half marathon because of an organization called the West Virginia Mountain Trail Runners. Quite a large number of them have already signed up. We have fewer registrants right now for the 5K race because that’s not a distance that’s been run by trail racers in the past. Most people who run 5K races are used to doing them on flat surfaces or on pavement. Our 5K race is designed to introduce these runners to the beauties of trail running. And we have a really lovely course which starts and ends at the Beaver Creek Campground in the park.”

I asked David if the trails are strewn with rocks or are up and down hills.

“Up and down yes, rock, not so much” said Elliott. “Those trails are in good shape because our Trail Committee has done so much to clear them. Right now they’re in very good shape and we have a lot of volunteers who are going to help keep them in good shape, and keep the runners on their course, because they’ll have a lot of turns to make. There are a lot of short trails to make up the 13.1 miles of the half marathon, but they’ll have signs to direct people and ribbons and volunteers on the course and a lot of help from the community.”

David explains how the racers will be timed.

“We’re treating these like professional races” says David. “We’ve brought in a a timing company called Tri-State Racer that uses what’s called ‘Chip Timing’, so that each runner has an electronic chip attached to the bib with their number on their shirt. And as they cross the starting line the equipment automatically records the time that they start and when they finish. That way if you have a large number of racers, the people who start at the back of the pack aren’t at a disadvantage because their time doesn’t start until they actually cross the starting line.”

What about those of us who are not professional trail racers?

“The 5K race is designed to be doable” Davis says. “It’s a very pleasant course. There is one moderate rise but the rest of it is really pretty trails and that’s designed to be either run or walked. If people want to hike the 3.1 miles to see a new area of the park and at the same time help out the Foundation. This race is designed to be both for competitive runners and people who want to hike for pleasure.”

David says the purpose of the race is to raise money for both trail maintenance at the park, and to help out with the CCC Museum which is moving to a new location in the park. He says the biggest challenge for the race is getting more local participants, many who have registered are from other states. Age is not a barrier. They have people well in their 50’s registering. Registrations can be done on-line at www.watogafoundation.org,  or in person at either the McClintic Library or the Visitors Center in Marlinton, or at the park on the day of the event. Registration for the half marathon is $30.00 and for the 5K is $20.00, however those prices go up by $5.00 two weeks out from the race. You can email David at delliott78@hotmail.com or at watogafoundation1@gmail.org.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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