On Sunday, April 23, the Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau will sponsor the first-ever sanctioned race to be held within the boundaries of Valley Forge National Park. Proceeds will benefit Friends of Valley Forge's efforts to preserve the park's 27 miles of recreational trails, particularly the five-mile, multi-use Joseph Plum Martin trail, which makes up most of the course.
"Because it gets that much use we have a sign plan that we have developed for the trail," said Barbara Pollarine, deputy superintendent at Valley Forge. "There are a number of places along the trail that need some repairs to make them a little safer for the many users that we have."
Valley Forge is one of the most popular destinations for runners and walkers in the greater Philadelphia area, even attracting training groups of world class runners who train there. That seems like it would make it a natural spot for a race, but the event has actually been about three decades in the making, according to Upper Merion Parks and Recreation Director David Broida. Broida said former park superintendents refused his race idea because it did not fall under the park's mission plan.
"I had lunch with [Superintendent] Mike Caldwell about a year ago when he first came here," Broida said. "He said to me, 'Have you every thought about having a race in the park?' I said, 'we've thought about it for about 30 years.' He said to go for it."
Caldwell called the race a "win-win situation."
The Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau hopes the run will become and annual event.
"It's an historic, beautiful location and we believe it will draw runners from throughout this region and beyond, for years to come," said Paul Decker, the bureau's president. "We also want it to be a family event, so the activities will include a family expo, one-mile youth fun run, and three-mile walk to the National Memorial Arch and back."
The Valley Forge 5-Mile Revolutionary Run will start at 8:30 a.m., with registration beginning at 6:30 a.m. The pre-race registration fee is $15, and day of registration is $20, and includes a t-shirt. For more information or to register for the race, log on to www.revolutionaryrun.org.