Carroll County Times

Award winning trail run returns to Manchester

On Aug. 17, River Valley Ranch in Manchester will hold its 6th annual River Valley Trail Run, an award-winning 10K race through woods, mud, river and rocks, according to Executive Director Jon Bisset.
"This is the real deal, a hard core trail run. We send them through our rock outcropping and through the river and there are parts where you have to jump over trees that are down," Bisset said.
There will also be a 5K road race for those who prefer to stay on asphalt and a 1 mile fun run for children held after the two larger races finish so that parents can run with their children, according to Bisset.
River Valley Ranch first held a 5K race in 2007 and added the trail race the following year, according to Bisset, the trail race garnering national attention, being listed as the number four 10K race in America on in 2011.
Kelly Dees, director of event management at Charm City Run, a company which has handled the timing of both the 5K and 10K since their inception, said that the trail run exploded in popularity almost immediately after 2008.
"I think the venue is such a unique venue, that's one of the many reasons why they have been so successful ... they fully use the grounds that the camp is on to create a very diverse trail run. Not only are they running through fields, but through rivers and across bridges that they have built," Dees said.
According to Bisset, the idea of a race came up as a way to help fund River Valley Ranch's activities as a youth camp and outdoor education center - the ranch was founded in 1952 by Bisset's grandfather, a Scottish minister that wanted to reach youths and had a passion for American cowboys - with funds paying for scholarships to allow underprivileged youth to attend camp.
"We also usually choose an outside charity to support. This year, we're working with Believe Big, a local charity that helps people dealing with cancer," Bisset said.
Ivelisse Page is the chairwoman and co-founder of Believe Big, and she said that in addition to providing resources and guidance to families dealing with cancer, the organization is raising money to fund a phase I clinical trial of mistletoe extract - a treatment Page credits with helping her defeat colon cancer in 2008 - at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
According to Page, the clinical trial will cost $300,000 and Believe Big has already raised $100,000.
In 2012, the River Valley Run raised $50,000, according to Bisset, and hopes to raise a total of $75,000 this year, with the money divided between River Valley Ranch and Believe Big.
Participants who wish to raise funds in addition to simply paying the registration fee will be provided with an website, according to Bisset, where they can direct people to donate.
"If a runner decides to raise money, they will be entered into a running for various prizes, including Ravens and Orioles tickets," Bisset said.
Some other prizes include a flat screen TV, an Xbox gaming system and, for those that raise $200 or more, free race entry, according to Bisset.
The 10K trail race will start at 8 a.m. and will loop around the ranch property through a variety of terrain.
"The 10K is a giant loop. You start down in the valley and at about the one mile mark, we send them up a really steep hill that thins out the crowd. Then we have a fort on top of the hill, they run through the tepee forest and then we send them back down into the valley through a number of small rivers and creeks. They will end up in a big open field and we send them all the way back down to the Gunpowder River," Bisset said.
The 5K will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the same point as the 10K, according to Bisset, and will be an out and back course, finishing in the same way the 10K does, running through the ranch's western town and across a bridge to the finish line.
"There is a little bit of a trail at the start and finish [of the 5K], the rest is on Green Run Road and Shaffer Mill Road. It's a country road that it goes out nice and shady for August," Bisset said.
There will be five water stops on the 10K course, and one on the 5K.
Parents with children 2 years of age and older that wish to race may leave their children in the Kids Corral for supervised activities during the adult races.
The children's fun run will take place after the 10K and 5K races are complete.
"We have two purposes for this. One is just babysitting, activities for kids that just want to be watched. We also take some of the kids that will do the fun run to the gym and get them warmed up and ready to run," Bisset said.
After all the race activities, there will also be a Kids Fest area with inflatable play structures, face painting and other activities, according to Anna Lanford, assistant race director for the event.
"We would like the whole family to come out and enjoy the race. We bring families in from all over Maryland and Pennsylvania," Lanford said.
Registration for the fun run will be $15; the 10K is $40 prior to July 29, and $45 thereafter, while the 5K is $35 prior to July 29 and $40 after, however, Bisset said that he would caution against waiting that long to sign up.
"We are tracking about 90 percent ahead of last year at this time, the registrations are just coming in that much faster ... we are expecting to fill before race day," Bisset said.
Registration will be online through the ranch website at, where there is more information on the race.
River Valley Ranch is located at 4443 Grave Run Road, Manchester, and available parking is in a grassy field so trucks, SUVs and carpooling are recommended.