The Trailside Museum at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation is one of the jewels of the park. You can support its educational mission, exhibits, and programming by joining as a Friend of the Trailside Museum.
Fifty-eight Raven Rocks runners who ran Raven Rocks Run in 2019 have joined already.
Your membership donation gets sent directly to the Friends of Trailside and can be made in your name or in the name of a person you designate. The Friends organization is a 501(c)3 charity and contributions are tax deductible.
You can join at any contribution level and get membership benefits including the quarterly newsletter and notification of programs during the year. Joining at the $100 membership level (aka “Wood Turtle”) or above gets you a parking pass for Ward Pound Ridge Reservation for the year.
We support the Trailside Museum and the Friends of Trailside and Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. We hope you will support them as well.
See you on the trails, Rob Cummings, Raven Rocks Run race director
The weather was a bit cold at the start, with temperatures in the high 30’s. However, the sun was out and the crowd was feeling the warmth.
Runners who had done Raven Rocks before knew they would soon be warmed up by their race effort, especially the early climb. Finishing runners were welcomed back at the tent with hot coffee, hot chocolate, bagels, bananas, and s’mores over a hot fire.
Justin Lubeley of Darien, CT came in first in the men’s division with a time of 46:21. Justin came in 2nd in the 2018 Raven Rocks Run and improved his time by around 1:40. Chris Sina-Jessiman (46:48) of Brooklyn was second after coming in 3rd in 2018. and Christopher Irwin (47:20) of Cortlandt Manor was third.
Some other notable top local finishers include the Randolph twins, Helena and Julia (1:10:27 and 1:22:25) of Mt. Kisco who took first and third in the 14-18 year old age group. Bill Bradsell (52:27) of Bedford beat Todd Henrich (52:57) of South Salem in the men’s 50-59 category and kept his 3 year Raven Rocks M50 win streak intact.
Prizes for the overall winners and age group winners are a range of tart-style pies from local farmer’s market favorite Dutch Desserts(Key information: Dutch Desserts is a vendor at the Pleasantville farmer’s market on Saturdays!)
The race was started this year by South Salem resident and Sunday Runs Chief navigator Lee Willett who was awarded Bib #1 for his tireless work on behalf of the area trail running community.
Lee also checked the course with the rest of the Cobweb Crew early race morning to make sure the pink course markings were still up and leading the runners to the right places. Many of these cobweb crew runners also ran the race – making their day a 20k!
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 through 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.
Awaiting runners at the top of the climb was our very own Raven RockerChris Cassone jamming on the six-string. We hope it made your climb more enjoyable. Chris had a blast! You can view yourself and other runners on GoPro video with Chris’ soundtrack in the background.
Runners then 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. The course has over 1,000 feet of elevation gain and features a cliffside run, miles of single-track trails, a rock scramble, plus 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.
Fifty-seven runners to date joined as members raising over $4,100.00 for the Museum in the form of memberships. 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 2020.
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. We could not put on the event without them – THANK YOU!
In addition, The Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Conservation led by Jeff Main at the park and helped by Mike, Chase, Kevin, Bobby and the rest of the crew are essential to the success of the race.
LAYERS. If you have layers on now and you get to the campground (about 1 mile in) and you want to leave your outer layer, we will have volunteers collecting them in bins and returning them to the finish area for you to pick up at the end of your race.
Start taking your layers off at the sand hill. We will be waiting at the bottom of the meadow to collect them.
THE COURSE. The course carries hazards. The leaves can be slick in spots and the wet fall season and especially rain in the last few days have left some wet spots on the trail.
We did some course “grooming” over the past two weeks (shout out to Paul Woolley who went above and beyond with raking between Raven Rocks and the Fire Tower climb!). Rocks, leaves, and other hazards are a natural part of the trail. Take care and take those rocky downhills slowly. The uphills you can go fast on.
Course markings are pink flags, pink ribbon, and one spot with yellow caution tape (that’s the RAVEN ROCKS OVERLOOK) to keep you going on the right trail. Pre-run by Joe, Lee, Peeter, Jeff, Jacob, Lars, and many others. I am quite sure they scared the bears away.
SWEEPS. Sweeps will be following along behind the runners. If you can’t continue, stay on the course and the sweeps will catch up to you and send for help if you need it. They have cell phones, sweep maps, and LVAC contact info.
After runners finish we will have awards near the tent. Please stick around — you may go home with a prize!
THANK YOUS at the start:
“Little things, big impacts”
Wanted to pause for a bit to recognize our friend Mark Vincent who passed away over the summer. Mark was there the second week of the Sunday Runs group in 2010 before it even had a name. At the time I had only started it to be a 9 week training group leading up to the 2010 Leatherman’s Loop.
At the last run before the Loop in 2010 Mark pulled me aside and said “Hey are you gonna continue the sunday runs?” It was a small thing at the time and I said I thought that was a great idea. I said I’d keep it up — as long as people kept coming. Here we are TEN years later. Mark was the catalyst – he asked a simple question, and many many races, runs, and good times, were born and continue to emerge from that group and the members’ enthusiasm for trail running: Sarah Bishop, A Mild Sprain, Raven Rocks, Kisco 5k, Running Goddess, and others. The Trail Mix Series itself probably would not exist without that question.
Little things can have big impacts. Try to spread good in the world. Do the little things. Be the catalyst.
PAST BIB #1s – ALL HERE!
Ciorsdan thank you for helping with the whole event. She was a past BIB #1 recipient and is always #1 in my heart. I love you babe!
Shout out to Tony and Judy Godino (Bib #1s too!) – they will be hiking the course today. Reverse direction?
Shout out to Charlie Vaccaro (Past BIB #1!!!) who is the only runner to finish all Trail Mix races to date (32! over 6 years – this will be #33).
And my parents John and Patricia Cummings – who are our fourth past bib #1. They are always making time for their kids and grandkids events and accomplishments and they are here today!
Lee Willett – #1 BIB for 2019
Lee leads the Leatherman Harriers Sunday Runners group on weekly runs, night runs, snow runs, make your own course runs, all over Westchester, and occasionally farther afield.
If you have a trail running group, get in touch — we could be convinced to make a field trip to your favorite spot or race! Sundayruns.org
Cobweb crew founder – thanks to Lee, Peeter, Joe, Jeff, Lars, Jacob, etc. for making sure the trail is still well marked in the pre-run dawn.
THE Trail Mix race directors: Tony, Lee, Barry, Eric, David, Brant, Megan, and Geoff. (Almost all races in series represented here?) Sixth year of the Series. Each year it keeps getting better. After today nearly 100 Runners are in line for the well deserved automatic selection in the Loop Lottery 2020! If you don’t know what the Trail Mix Series is, check out trailmixseries.org. If you don’t know what the Leatherman’s Loop is, ask the person next to you!
M – Kase Atkinson (9)
F – Rita Haitoff (10)
Oldest Registered Runners:
M – Ed Moore ; Tony Godino
F – Carrie Barratt ; Judy Godino
5 runners have done 6 RACES TO DATE in the Trail Mix 2019 and all are signed up for Raven Rocks (are you all here?):
Jacob Benesch, Bryan Wujcik, Gerard Mattia, Andrew Chasen and Charles Vaccaro — who has never missed a Trail Mix race!
Final Thank Yous:
Sunday Runners, many are volunteers here. Thanks for keeping the trails well traveled!
Parks department – Jeff, Chase, Mike, and the rest of the crew who are so supportive of what we do.
Tom Cohn – past president of the Friends of Trailside and THE driving force behind the newly energized “bring back the fire tower” effort. Big supporter of this race and runners.
Friends of Trailside Museum and Ward Pound Ridge Reservation – Thanks for your support of the Museum and Park!
Cecilia Soprano – amichiart.com – designed the t-shirt. And she did last year’s shirt as well as all of the Run the Farm shirts since 2014.
LVAC – Volunteers all of them. What a great group of community members. They will take care of you if you should need it. Hopefully you meet them after you have crossed the finish line and are having a bagel & coffee.
PRVFD – All volunteers as well. If you get into trouble on the course they will be there to help.
Race volunteers – BLUE t-shirts – thanks to them we get to have a race!
Our photographers do a great job! Today Michelle, Chris, Ciorsdan, Carol, Lee, Sawyer, Gene, and Michael, took photos and video — plus thanks to all of the runners who submitted photos and share them online. (upload yours to this album!)
There is Last Minute Online Registration available until 6pm today if you are deciding late to run – sign up now and make tomorrow morning easier for yourselves and us! 😉 If you want to sign up for the race on race day, we open same day registration from 7:15 – 8:45am.
Note if you are running tomorrow and want to have an extra layer for the start but then want to peel it off (after that first big hill!), we will have volunteers at Michigan Road (1 mile into the course) who can collect your outer layers in a bin and will return them to the finish line area under the tent for you to pick up after you finish.
This year the Raven Rocks Run will feature one course change — Runners will head out from the start as usual, but will cross the Covered Bridge heading up Michigan Road and run up the meadow on the left side of Michigan Road which is part of the new CB (Covered Bridge) trail loop. The trail goes left into the woods near the farmhouse where the Westchester County Wildlife Conservationist office is. It joins up with the remaining Raven Rocks course at the Michigan Road sand hill. From there the course is the same as last year.
This change does not affect the the course distance by much, but it eliminates some elevation change so it will potentially be a faster start (and race). Everyone gets a course PR on Sunday!
We have some fantastic news to share: Funding has been secured to begin the design and engineering work needed to bring back the Cross River Mountain Fire Tower in Pound Ridge, NY! (See course map for location of tower – near Water Stop.)
Many of you know the original name of this race was the Fire Tower 10k, but we changed the name to Raven Rocks Run after it was brought to our attention that approval might not be given for a race with that ambitious name 5 years ago.
The credit is mostly due to the persistence and passion of Tom Cohn, former president of the Friends of Trailside Museum, who was our official race starter 2 years ago. Tom has not wasted an opportunity to bend any willing ear to share with them his dream project.
New York State Senator Peter Harckham was at the Rez on Tuesday, October 29th to announce NY State funding of $100,000 for engineering and design work to bring back the Tower. Westchester County Executive George Latimer was also there along with District 2 Legislator Kitley Covill — they announced a matching $100,000 from Westchester County to keep the project moving. Town Supervisors from Bedford, Pound Ridge, and Lewisboro were also in attendance and in support.
The design and engineering phase will start early next year after 2020 budgets have been passed. Design and engineering will take about 12 months before anything can get started with holes in the ground — but the project finally has the blessing, funding, and public support from the state and county to move forward and get it done.
We are excited to have the Raven Rocks Run go by the restored fire tower in a couple of years. I hope you are too!
To: Everyone who is registered for (or thinking of registering for) the 2019 Raven Rocks Run:
The fifth annual Raven Rocks Run at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation is set for November 10th, 2019. Race director Rob Cummings, his lovely wife Ciorsdan along with many dedicated volunteers have been working hard to set up this year’s event.
Here are some tips that will help you on race morning:
1.) ARRIVE EARLY! The race is set to start at 9am. Please plan to arrive at the park by 8:15am — or even earlier if you can swing it. The regular $10 parking fee is already factored into the Raven Rocks entry fee so there is no need to stop and pay at the entry booth. This speeds up park entry. Park employees will direct you on parking as you arrive.
If the main meadow lot should fill up, we may need to use our backup lot near the entrance to the park. This would mean about 1/4 mile walk for runners arriving late. Another good reason to be early!
2.) DRIVE SLOWLY in the Park! Pay close attention to the staff and volunteers who are directing the parking. Car pool if you can – this helps the environment – and it makes the race more fun! For a helpful overview of the race location (parking, start, bib pickup), check the logistics page of the website here.
3.) LISTEN ATTENTIVELY TO PRE-RACE ANNOUNCEMENTS! We will have important information about the course and safety. You will be instructed about potential hazards on the course and current course conditions.
4.) LISTEN FOR THE START! Following the instructions, we will get the race started.
6.) ALL DOGS MUST BE LEASHED! If the dogs are running Raven Rocks they MUST START NEAR THE BACK with their humans and wait til the start line clears! If you are running with your dog, you must hold back at the start and be certain that your dog or its leash does not interfere with or impede any of the other runners. The county park law requires dogs be leashed at all times while in the park. This is for the safety of your dogs, other park patrons, and other dogs visiting.
7.) SAME DAY REGISTRATION – We will likely have same day registration available from 7:15-8:45am. Earlier is better. Online registration is even better! 😉 Cash or check only on race day please.
9.) THANK A VOLUNTEER! A tremendous amount of volunteer effort goes into making Raven Rocks a special event. T-shirt designers, registration volunteers, carpool helpers, pie buyers, course setters, trail wardens, box lifters, water servers, bagel cutters, coffee brewers, parking coordinators, photographers, videographers, course sweeps, and the clean-up crew—not to mention the Pound Ridge, Lewisboro, and Westchester County Police officers and the dedicated members of the Lewisboro Volunteer Ambulance Corps!
Many runners have become members of the Friends of Trailside Museum and Ward Pound Ridge Reservation group during registration – We thank you for joining! Volunteers from the Friends group will be there race morning to help cheer on runners, support the race, and have information about joining the Friends of Trailside Museum group.
(Note: this went out as an email to all registered runners for the 2019 Raven Rocks Run. If you did not receive it via email and you are registered, you may want to check your spam folder and set up firstname.lastname@example.org on your address book/white list.)
The course is in good shape now and is just as challenging as ever.
We will run mostly the same course as last year. The start of the course after the Covered Bridge trail will follow a new part of the CB trail which also climbs up to Michigan Road, but it takes a different path. The other changes from last year, including the new “Raven Cliff Trail” (follows the rock outcropping from the Raven Rocks overlook down through new single track trail) and the re-routed Blue trail around mile 4.75 (around 1/2 mile after the fire tower water stop) will also stay part of the updated course.
See map below for old (dotted line) vs. new trail (solid line) over the years.
Depending on the rainfall in the weeks leading up to the race, the Michigan Road swamp trail cut-through may be impassible. Last year we had to re-route through the main Michigan Rd access trail due to significantly higher rainfall. This change, which is a game-time decision, adds in about 0.1 mile to the course if we take the long way around.
Thanks for coming out to run on these challenging trails. Our best advertisements are you — the runners! Please pass this website page on to a friend who might like to know about the race (and the Trail Mix Series).