The last few months I have been busy prepping for the Dirty Kiln Trail Races. The founding members of the Allegheny Trailrunners, myself, Matt Lindsey, Ethan Imhoff, and Adam McGinnis have been hard at work preparing for our first trail race in our race series.  (Dirty Kiln Website)

Adam at the top of Hartman near the bat caves.

The Dirty Kiln will be held Saturday, April 7th, 2012 at Canoe Creek State Park. It has been a very interesting experience so far as we share race directing responsibilities.

Matt crossing the creek

I am not sure which of us conceived the idea but all of us have chipped in for what should be an interesting race. We have developed a course, mapped it out, developed a website, got insurance, coordinated with the state park and DNCR, set up online registration, got insurance, took tons of photo and video, produced a TV spot, hired a timing company, found sponsors, created a 501c3, set up a banking account, and twenty million other details we did and still need to do. I think I have done more work of this event than the stuff I do for Pints for Pets.
We wanted to have the type of trail race that we would like to go to. That said, we are going with awesome tech shirts, creating a very informative website with lots of maps, pictures and video, nice goodie bags full of stuff, cool prizes, plenty of food and drink and lots of stuff to make it a memorable race. (Video and photos of the course)

I think the part that I am most proud of is the course. We wanted to give something interesting and yet “do-able” for the new trail runner while still make it challenging for someone more experienced. We achieved this by developing two loops. The first loop starts from the ball field near the beach. Runners will go over toward the Limestone Kilns and around the Moore’s Hill Trail, down the other side, then around the lake, below the spillway and back to the finish. The climb up Moore’s Hill, would be a walk for most.

Joe Franco and his boy on Fisherman's Trail

Then the downhill is rather smooth except near the bottom and should be a blast for most runners. Then there is the first stream crossing which is enough to get wet but it is not even ankle deep. The trail is rather rolling on the other side of the lake, with enough mud and variety of terrain that is should be enough for them to go back to there friends and say how great of a time they had. The only intimating spot would be the last creek crossing and depending on recent rains, it could be waist-high on race day. Luckily it is near the end of the race. We might have to have a metal ladder at the crossing or someone in hip waders to help them along.
For the experienced runners, I think we have something that is challenging enough that it will be a great run for them as well. This is no Hyner or Mega but it is still something that seasoned runners will have a good time. First we will send them up and along Smith Hillside which is very slick. Then after coming down, we take them up the steepest climb in the park –  Hartman’s Trail – which hugs the edge very close. Then we immediately take them back down the hill on Mattern. Next, its back up to the water tower, across the other side of the hill, then up the hill again. Finally we take them down the hill once again on a connecting trail back down to Canoe Creek. After all of that, they connect back onto the first loop at the first creek crossing and again around the other side of the lake and all the way to the finish. It is a 12 mile course with the very respectable 2200 feet in elevation gain. It is a great course to prepare for anyone doing Hyner two weeks later.  (The Course Map)

Adam chasing Matt down Mattern Trail

Some other highlights: Adam was able to score some great stuff from REI and Salomon. We are talking backpacks from REI and trail shoes from Salomon! Woot!
We have had a great time running the trails before the course and allowing some new trail runners experience it as well. It is one of the reasons we did this race in the first place was to introduce runners to the world of trail running.

Matt crossing "The Confluence" - Almost to his hips

Now comes the hard part… promoting the event. We have been posting on many different running forums, Facebook group pages, etc. Our posters are going up as we speak and we have a $1000 contribution from Atlantic Broadband for TV cable advertising in Altoona, Johnstown, Cumberland and Uniontown. The early registration period was okay but these things are so hard to gauge. I hear that 80% of registrations come during the last two weeks prior to the race. Our cap is at 400 runners.