50K of single and double-track trails, stream crossings, rocky climbs, and peak season of fall leaf colors. There is not too much more you could ask for in the Laurel Highlands of western Pennsylvania. Located on the west slope of Laurel Ridge in Westmoreland County, the 3,593 acre Roaring Run Natural Area features a complete mountain stream protected within its watershed. Most of the area is wooded, with second and third growth forests. There are a few recently abandoned fields, and some old fields which have completely reverted to forest. Roaring Run is formed by numerous springs near the summit of Laurel Ridge. The stream drops 1,220’ in elevation, over a length of 5 miles, before ending at its confluence with Indian Creek in the village of Champion. This looped course will get you on every trail within the park, covering almost 32 Miles with total vertical gain of around 5,500 vertical feet.
The Race will begin just after sunrise, at 7:30 am. Exact packet pickup time the day before is TBD, but packets will also be available race morning starting at 6:30. No required gear. No pets. No pacers. Further details and updates will be provided as we get closer to the event.
• McKenna Trail – Roaring Run 50K begins at the Route 31 Parking area at the McKenna Trail head which starts with a section of singletrack before opening into double track trail. You will follow this trail for 3 Miles until you reach the McKenna Aid Station. Once you leave the McKenna Aid Station you will continue the Mckenna Trail. KEEP TO THE RIGHT. Do not make any left hand turns onto trail heads at this point in the race. McKenna Trail will continue for roughly one-tenth of a mile before you enter the North Loop Trail Section of the Course.
• North Loop Trail - This section is all double track with some loose rock sections and the first stream crossing. You will run this Loop for roughly 4.5 miles before it will take you back to where you began the loop. Follow the course markings that direct you back into the McKenna Trail Aid Station. At this point you will have run 7.7 Miles.
• Painter Rock Trail – Leaving the Mckenna Trail Aid Station for the second time, the volunteers will hole punch your bib and direct you onto the Painter Rock Trail. This begins with double-track and then chokes down into rocky and technical singletrack. This section of the course is the most technical with very rocky sections and some boulder overlooks. I consider it fun, but some runners’ ankles may disagree. The Painter Rock Trail will take you 1.6 miles down to the Roaring Run Stream crossing.
• Roaring Run Trail (sneak peek) – This is where you will make the first substantial stream crossing. Once you cross the stream and somehow manage to keep your feet dry, take a right onto the double track Roaring Run Trail for roughly 1 mile until you reach a sharp “V” intersection. Take a sharp Left and enter South Loop Trail.
• South Loop Trail – Congrats! You’ve completed the first third of the course. South Loop Trail will provide you with a double track route and a gentle climb for a little over half a mile until you reach a little surprise called Birch Rock.
• Birch Rock Trail Spur – This is an out and back section of single track that we couldn’t just ignore. Runners will take this narrow and rocky trail, flanked by briers, all the way to the top and find a stone turret at the summit, and perhaps a view of Seven Springs’ ski slopes if they’re lucky. Here Runners will find the second Bib punch. Once the Bib is punched, run back down the way you came and take a right to continue South Loop Trail. Failure to punch the Race Bib with this punch will result in a DQ, unless you want to go back and get it.
• South Loop Trail (continued) – Once finished coming back down from Birch Rock, cruise on this easy section of descending double track for 1.3 Miles.
• Tower Road Trail – South Loop Trail will end at a merging intersection with Tower Road Trail which will be a smooth double track for 1.5 Miles and dump you out onto Tower Road. Take an immediate Left on Tower Road and make your way toward the sounds of Hillside Trail Aid Station. Here, volunteers will check you for that Birch Rock hole punch…..hope you didn’t forget it!
• Roaring Run Trail – Here it is, the race’s name sake, saved halfway into the course just for you…..and your soon to be wet feet. I tried to get a count of the total times the trail crossed over the stream; I came up with 27 not including the additional small feeder stream crossings. Roaring Run will take you 2.6 miles deep into the heart of the Natural Area and back to Painter Rock Trail. This section is my favorite and I think it will be yours too!
• Painter Rock Trail (again) – Runners got acquainted with Painter Rock in the beginning of the course, but this time they get to go up it for the steepest climb of the race. At the end of Painter Rock Trail, runners will come back into the Mckenna Aid Station.
• Painter Rock Road – After leaving Mckenna Aid Station for the last time, volunteers will direct you back onto Mckenna Trail for a short distance until signs take you onto Painter Rock Road. This gravel road will continue past a stone obelisk with a sad and slightly creepy story behind it and into a parking area. This section of Painter Rock trail turns into winding single track that will take you back to Hillside Trail Aid Station.
• Hillside Trail - Leaving Hillside Aid Station for the second and last time, runners will be directed onto single track Hillside Trail. Hillside Trail will cross over Painter Rock Road and take runners through brushy undergrowth that abruptly dumps you out onto Tower Road. Signs will direct you to the right and onto a grassy pipeline section.
• Cherry Trail – At this point, the course opens up a bit more, the trail widens beyond double track and into an access road. Easy terrain with a net descent to Jones Mill Road Aid Station.
• Beltz Road – Leaving the final aid station of the course, runners will use Beltz Road Trail for a short assent to connect to Red Oak Trail.
• Red Oak Trail – With similar views and terrain as Cherry Trail, ascending Red Oak Trail will hug a small ridge line and take runners north to the final stretch of the course
• Jones Mill Run Trail – This section of single and double track trail winds around a bit in a mixed wood of broadleaf and conifer trees.
• Look Out Trail – The last trail of the race, it also winds around a bit with multiple turns, pay attention here as other trails crisscross a lot. I like this section for the fresh pine smell in the big patches of evergreen.
• FINISH!! - Look out trail will eventually dump the runners right back into the starting parking lot where they will cross the finish line and rest up with tasty food and beverages!
There are only 3 Aid Stations....What!! Yes, three aid stations. However, along the course, runners will enter these aid stations a total number of 6 times. Typical Aid Station goodies will be provided.
Aid Station entries in order:
1 - McKenna Aid Station
2 - McKenna Aid Station
3 - Hillside Aid Station
4 - McKenna Aid Station
5 - Hillside Aid Station
6 - Jones Mill Aid Station
A descriptive course walkthrough and further detailed Aid Station guide will be posted on our Facebook page and emailed to registrants in the next couple of months.
Registration to this event will be accepted, but the payments will be held and not withdrawn until June, when final permitting and authorization for the event is ratified with DCNR and park service.
Swag and Awards
All runners who complete the course within the cutoff (to be determined) will receive and finishers medal other items in their swag bag (contents to be determined).
I have determined a unique finishers medal design however i am trying to include other swag items that will actually be interesting and useful. I know all of us have enough unused race shirts in our closets. So, in time, I will reach out to registered runners in a poll where, by popular vote, they get to have a say in what else they get!
First Place Male and Female Finisher Awards will be 3D Topographical wall art pieces that display the topography of the course and surrounding area.
Off of route 31 into the Roaring Run Natural Area there is a small parking area that will accommodate roughly 50 Vehicles. This is also the Starting and Staging Area. So, if we get a really good turnout (INVITE EVERYONE YOU KNOW) we have a very big secondary parking lot area across the road about 80 yards away that I will coordinate a shuttle to get everyone to the staring line.
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Local time: 12:41 AM