Trail running group raises $50,000 for local park

Mar. 08, 2014 @ 11:23 AM

The TrailHeads, a group of trail running and outdoor enthusiasts, love playing in the woods. They also are dedicated to introducing others to the joys of the trails, and to helping create and protect natural spaces for public use.

Perhaps the best evidence of this commitment is the Little River Trail Runs, created by the TrailHeads -- a 501(c)3 organization (www.trailheads.org) -- in 2006. The Little River Trail Runs take place each January at Little River Regional Park, at the border of Durham and Orange counties, in Rougemont. Runners who sign up for the races choose between 10-mile and 7-kilometer distances, both of which are run on the single-track trails of Little River Regional Park. Proceeds from the race benefit the park generally, and trail-building and maintenance specifically.

At a recent appreciation and donation event, hosted by Balanced Movement Studios

and Proaxis Physical Therapy, the TrailHeads presented Mike DiFabio and Michelle Pesavento, the park manager and park conservation technician at Little River Regional Park, with a contribution of $10,000. This donation, proceeds from the January 2014 race, was the largest to date.

Over the race’s nine years, the TrailHeads have now given $51,000 to Little River Regional Park. These donations fund activities and purchases including trail building  and maintenance, nature programs for children and adults, a gator utility vehicle and zero-turn mower, iPads for use in park programs, and driveway and bathroom improvements.

David “booda” Elam, race co-director since 2011, views the Little River Trail Runs as a model for how public and private groups can work together to maintain public spaces. “If resources are to be maintained for public access and use, someone has to pay for them. We expect our tax dollars to cover these costs, but in recent years, declining tax revenues have forced governments to shift funding from niceties like parks to necessities like fire protection. Organizations like ours can help.”

Proceeds from Little River Trail Runs also generate donations to Triangle Off-Road Cyclists (TORC; http://torc-nc.org/); these monies are in support of TORC’s trail-building activities across the Triangle and, specifically, at Little River Regional Park. This year, the TrailHeads donated $1,000 in Little River proceeds to TORC; since 2006, the event has directed more than $3,000 to TORC.

Moreover, to offset the carbon generated by travel to the event, the TrailHeads have funded the purchase of 435,000 pounds of carbon dioxide offsets, via $3,100 in contributions to NC Green Power. These offsets are the equivalent of planting 59,610 trees, or not driving 553,024 miles.

The Little River Trail Runs also illustrate how one person’s idea for an event, and other individuals’ willingness to dedicate effort toward the event, can make a difference in the community. In 2005, John “Skwryl” Strange, a TrailHead who had discovered the beauty of Little River Regional Park, proposed the creation of a running event there. Other members of the TrailHeads jumped on board, and the first event took place in early 2006, with 300 runners. In 2014, a record 650 people registered for one of the races.

“Our events, and the financial benefits they generate, wouldn’t be possible without volunteer effort,” says Layna “Willow” Mosley, co-race director since 2011.

The Little River Trail Runs also wouldn’t be possible without the support of title sponsors; they provide prizes, food, coffee and other materials. Sponsors include Balanced MovementStudi os/Proaxis Physical Therapy; the Open Eye Café/Carrboro Coffee Roasters; Fleet Feet Sports Carrboro and Durham; and Montrail.

The TrailHeads also host another event, the Philosopher’s Way Trail Runs, at Carolina North Forest. The seventh edition of this event takes place. Its proceeds will be directed to Carolina North Forest, the group’s “home base” for running.

TrailHeads is a group of trail running and outdoor enthusiasts, based in Chapel

Hill/Carrboro. The organization’s purposes are to promote the joy of trail running; support the efforts of members to maintain an active and healthy life style; listen, learn and internalize the lessons taught by the natural environment and wilder spaces; and organize and encourage efforts to enhance, extend, and maintain nature’s reach

into the lives of the greater community.

For more information about the TrailHeads or the Little River Trail Runs,

contact Layna Mosley (willow.mosley@gmail.com; 919-623-5097).