BY LANESSA MURPHY-SPAGNUOLO
News & Journal Staff
The United Way of Harrison County is hard at work helping Harrison County non-profit organizations and the folks they proudly serve.
On October 29, the foundation will be hosting “Test the Watters”, a 5K and 15K Trail Run at the Watters Smith Memorial State Park in Lost Creek.
All proceeds from the Trail Run will assist the United Way with reaching the 2017 campaign’s fundraising goal of $850,000. With the raised monies, the United Way will be funding 20 organizations next year.
“I am very appreciative of the group of volunteers that is planning this race, and I am excited to have it because it is a very unique event,” said Tina Kopp, Executive Director of the United Way of Harrison County. “It is something that will grow from year to year.”
While the United Way has held similar events in the past, this is the first USA Track & Field (USATF) sanctioned trail race to come to Harrison County. Unlike a typical race of this sort, this run will take place cross country and go through the wooded areas of the park. The 5K of course is the shorter run of the two, while the 15K will complete a full loop of the park.
Fundraising Chair Tom Raine and Michael and Irene Malfregeot, also United Way Cabinet members, are planning the event. The three are trail runners themselves and are associated with others in the area.
“We are all connected together and we’ve been working on some United Way running events over the past couple years. We’ve come up with this trail running idea and this is the first year to make it all work. We are anxious to start a trail run in the area. We’ve been eyeing a couple locations and we settled on Watters Smith State Park in the Lost Creek/West Milford area,” explained Raine.
According to Raine, over the last few years, the United Way has had a 24-hour run, ‘Run One Day for United Way’. This activity has been held at different locations in Harrison County. The trail run, however, is much shorter timewise.
“There’s a lot of runners in this area. Sometimes you get four or five hundred people to show up to a 5K race, but trail running is not very well understood right now in this area. I think when people get out in the woods and find out how fun it is to run with the sun blazing through the trees and the smell of the earth, and the leaves falling, they’re going to feel like kids again. They’re going to want to take off their shoes and relive their childhood. Trail running can be very stimulating. It is much more stimulating to your senses than running down the road. You really have to pay attention to what you are doing. There are more hills. It’s a different type of running. You don’t go as fast, but I think it is a lot more fun than running on the flat roads,” Raine described.
The 5K/15K Trail Race is in collaboration with the USATF’s rules and regulations as one of the 4,000 sanctioned events held each year.
“I hope the community members will come out and support the event, whether they walk or run, or just come and cheer on the participants,” remarked Kopp.
“This is something new. Be adventurous. Check out this beautiful park we have right here in Harrison County. It’s one of the best-kept secrets we have around here,” commented Raine. “The trails are excellent, great for walking, running, mountain bike riding – just a gorgeous little gem.”
According to Raine, the events planned by the United Way are designed to bring the community together and bring out the best in it. In fact, this year’s theme is ‘Connecting Communities, Linking Lives, Living United’.
“The whole reason we are doing this is to connect the community with a bigger cause and that is helping different agencies in Harrison County receive the money they deserve to help the residents of Harrison County,” Raine stated.
The event will kick off at 9:00 a.m., with registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. To preregister and guarantee yourself a long-sleeve t-shirt and unique finisher medal, visit to www.unitedwayhcwv.org.
Also, for additional details, check them out on Facebook. Learn more about the USATF at www.usatf.org.