On Sunday morning November 11, 250 runners met up and competed in the fourth annual Raven Rocks 10k Trail Run at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.
The weather was chilly at the start, with temperatures at 32 degrees. However, the crowd was in a cheerful mood since the sun was shining and they would soon be warmed up by their race effort. At the finish, the temperature had risen to a much more hospitable 45 degrees. Runners were also welcomed back – after they caught their breath — with hot coffee, hot chocolate, bagels, bananas, and s’mores over a hot fire.
Rob Kehoe, originally from Katonah and a John Jay graduate, came in first in the men’s division with a time of 46:52. Rob also won the race in 2016 and said he’d definitely be back for more. Justin Lubely (48:08) of Darien was second and Chris Sina-Jessiman (48:18) of Brooklyn was third.
Lindsay Felling of Larchmont finished first overall in the women’s division with a time of 52:12. Louise Mullan (53:18) of Hastings was second and Emily Bocklet (1:00:58) of Katonah came in third.
Rita Haitoff of Katonah was the youngest runner at 9 years old, finishing in 1:44:57. James McGough (1:32:35) of Mahopac — and a regular runner at the Reservation — was the oldest finisher on the day at 72 years young. Some other notable top local finishers include Sydney Bieber (1:10:45) of Bedford who won the 14-18 year old age group as well as Bill Bradsell (53:41) and Gregory Fleming (53:49), both of Bedford, who finished eight seconds apart to take first and second in the men’s 50-59 category.
Awards for the overall winners and age group winners are a range of pies from local farmer’s market favorite Dutch Desserts. In addition this year the first place age group winners got custom Raven Rocks ultimate frisbee discs. The race was started this year by South Salem resident Tom Curley who launched one of the Raven prize discs downfield in front of the starting line to kick off the race.
The course – which is run entirely on the trails of the reservation — starts in the large meadow about a quarter-mile into the park. It follows trails up over the covered bridge to the Michigan Road campground where it delves deep into the 4,300 acres of the park. The halfway point is the east-facing Raven Rocks overlook, where the race got its name. Runners descend again before climbing back up to the highest point in the park, the location of the former fire tower. Runners head back down on the blue trail to the sledding spot on Pell Hill. The final half-mile is along the Cross River back to the Meadow finish line.
Many runners have called it one of hardest 10k races out there because of the hilly terrain and the narrow trails — plus this year added some wet spots where prior years have been dry. The course has over 1,000 feet of elevation gain and features a cliffside run, miles of single-track trails, a rock scramble, and beautiful meadow runs.
Raven Rocks is part of a series of local trail races called the Trail Mix Series. Some of the other races in the series are the Leatherman’s Loop (Cross River), Run The Farm (Katonah), the Sarah Bishop Bushwhack (North Salem), Where the Pavement Ends (Ridgefield), A Mild Sprain (Yonkers), and Paine to Pain (New Rochelle). The Trail Mix Series website has more information: trailmixseries.org.
In addition to running a race, runners were also able to join the Friends of Trailside when they signed up. Forty-seven runners joined as members raising over $3,800.00 for the Museum. The most popular membership level runners picked to join at was the $100 Wood Turtle level, which comes with a parking pass for entry into the park for all of 2019. Membership information for joining the Friends of Trailside is here: friendsoftrailside.org.
A team of volunteers known as the Leatherman Harriers Sunday Runners help put on the race. Many of these volunteers also meet up to run the trails in northern Westchester year-round. These volunteers set the course, staff the water station, handle registration, pre-run the course, sweep to make sure no injured runners are on the course, and clean up any traces after the run.
In addition, The Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Conservation led by Jeff Main at the park and helped by Mike, Chase, Kevin, and the rest of the crew are essential to the success of the race. Last but certainly not least, the Lewisboro Volunteer Ambulance Corps provided a standby team of volunteer EMS personnel and an ambulance just in case they are needed. Thankfully there were just minor bumps and bruises this year. Proceeds from the race go to Friends of Trailside, LVAC, and other local not-for-profits.