The Rachel Carson Trail Challenge 2024

Sharing some encouragement and gratitude!

by Amanda Ford

July 2024

On June 22, 2024, Club members Bob and Tena Gerdes participated again in the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge. Bob finished his fourth challenge and Tena completed 22 miles of this year’s Challenge after completing her prior 8 consecutive attempts! She is amazing!  (Times listed below-talk about consistency.)  Sharing a bit of the Challange’s description from its website, “The Challenge is a 37-mile long, one-day, sunrise to sunset endurance hike on much of the brutal Rachel Carson Trail. Unlike a footrace, the “challenge” is not to “come in first ” or “win”, but to endure, to finish the hike in one day. This time, the Challenge starts in North Park and ends 37 miles later in Harrison Hills County Park.” The course contains over 8,000 feet of elevation gain-AND descent. Let me assure you, it is no “walk in the park.” Because the Gerdes’ shared their experiences with Gary and me, I will share them with the YRRC, as I know some members would enjoy this type of event, and might not know about it otherwise. 

This year, Bob and Tena encouraged me and Gary to look into participating as well, and we all know how that goes… So, on June 22, we were right at North Park with them, and other members of their family.  Please consider the Challenge and why it, and other trail races and challenges, might be a good addition to your race (but this was NOT a race) schedule. First of all, preparation does not have to mirror the mileage of the challenge, as we are used to doing for marathon training. There is not necessarily an attempt to approximate the distance of a challenge on a training run. To prepare, we were led by Bob on an 18.5 mile orientation run, and while it was helpful, it was only half of the distance that we knew we would be attempting. I think this might be because you probably hike about half and run about half of the total distance. Secondly, the lack of a “race” atmosphere, and the presence of uncontrolled variables like ground cover, temperature, hills,etc. makes it much easier to run with someone, without worrying about a common goal time, while enjoying the trails. To finish is the goal, and it really was. This is often the atmosphere at trail events, even in some trail races, where the front of the pack is racing each other and the rest of us are out there to enjoy and cover the distance! Finally, just because it doesn’t foster as much competition between athletes as a road or trail race, doesn’t mean runners aren’t working hard and challenged along the way! The weather, (this year mid-nineties) terrain, (hills I crawled up) and distance, (37.5 miles-my longest distance on foot) do allow for a measure of satisfaction and accomplishment when you are done. I just LOVED this event, and being in the woods, and running with my husband, and watching Bob and his daughter finish, and feeling like I was on an adventure, in the outskirts of Pittsburgh..  For these reasons, I would love to see more YRRC road running members give trail running, races, or challenges a try! 

So many thanks to  Bob and Tena for the miles and friendship we have shared over the years and the information and encouragement that expanded my running adventures. The YRRC is an invaluable source of information, experiences, talents, and camaraderie that can open doors to what runners are comfortable attempting, often more confidently, as part of a group. Be sure to run with folks you haven’t met yet at club runs and expand your exposure to all the opportunity this sport has to offer. Networking and evolving can help keep people active as long as they possibly can be. I am so grateful to have the running partners available through YRRC and other groups of running friends, to stay moving and learning and enjoying health in this world we all get to explore, one foot in front of the other. Never stop encouraging each other, or appreciating each new mile.

See you on Sundays! 

Tena Gerdes’ Amazing RCTC Challenge Streak! 

2024DNF, 22 miles/8 hours 
2020No Challenge
Bob and Tena at the pre-race pasta dinner.
Bob and Abby at the finish.
Amanda and Gary near the start.


  • WEDNESDAYS – Evening Runs

    6PM @ Second Sole of Boardman, to hike/bike and back. Mileage varies, average of 4.

  • Monday, July 1st

    6PM @ Birch Hill Cabin. Summer Picnic Run at 5:00 2, 3.5, 5.7 miles / Dinner at 6:00 Hot Dogs and Burgers provided. Bring a covered dish.


    8:30AM @ Newport Wetlands in Mill Creek Metroparks. 2.8, 4 & 6.2 mile runs.

  • Sunday, July 21st – Christmas in July Run

    Wear your favorite red, green or Christmas themed gear to our Christmas in July fun run! 8:30AM @ Newport Wetlands in Mill Creek Metroparks. 2.8, 4 & 6.2 mile runs.


    8:30AM at Scholl Pavilion in Mill Creek Metroparks. 2.3, 4.3 & 6.5 mile runs.

  • Sunday, August 18th Neon Run

    Join us in your favorite Neon Gear for a Neon themed fun run! 8:30AM @ Scholl Pavilion in Mill Creek Metroparks. 2., 4.3 & 6.5 mile runs.


    8:30AM at Wick Recreation Area in Mill Creek Metroparks. 2, 4 & 6.2 mile runs.

  • Sunday, September 8th Football Fan Run

    Wear your favorite football team or other sports gear for our Football Fan fun run! 8:30AM at Wick Recreation Area in Mill Creek Metroparks. 2, 4 & 6.2 mile runs.