MIFFLINBURG — For the last 18 years, Joel and Shelley Heasley, of Middleburg, have organized the annual Dandelion Trail Run at Camp Mount Luther.
Named in honor and memory of Joel’s father, the Rev. Glenn E. Heasley Jr., former assistant to the bishop of the Upper Susquehanna Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, its name also features Heasley’s favorite “flower,” the dandelion.
“He liked it because no matter how hard you tried to kill it, it always rose again,” Joel said.
Heasley passed away in 2001, and the Dandelion Trail Run shortly thereafter became the first trail race coordinated by the Mid Penn Trailblazers running club.
Joel said it holds a special place in his heart because it honors his father and also supports something his father was passionate about.
“What he really liked was small church ministry, church camps,” he said. Since Camp Mount Luther was the local church camp, Joel said he and his wife — who had directed a few road races prior — decided to start a trail race there and raise money for the camp.
Chad Hershberger, executive director of Camp Mount Luther, said the event has meant a lot to them over the years.
“While it raises funds to help us in what we do at Mount Luther, I think what has been great about this event over the years is that it has brought people who might not have an opportunity to take advantage of the outdoor beauty of the camp. It brings a whole new consistency of users for us, which I think is great.”
“It has also been great to see how much the race has grown since it started in 2002,” he added, “and with more runners, we enjoy more financial support for the camp to support the kids who attend in the summer.”
Joel said the trail is an “entry-level” course that makes this a fun event not just for adults, but youth as well – the “up and coming trail runners,” as he calls them.
“There are a couple of little rocky sections,” he said, adding that runners will need to tackle a few little hills and at one point cross a five-foot-wide stream. “You get your feet wet a couple of times,” he laughed.
The event, which includes a 5K and 10k, a kids fun run, and a fun walk, usually draws around 200 participants. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the numbers are a little less, but still hovered around 150 as of the middle of the week.
Some precautions due to COVID will also be taken this year. Joel said the race will begin in an open field, so runners will not have to be at a starting line shoulder-to-shoulder. Masks will be required before and after the race. Lunch will be provided in individual pre-packed Styrofoam containers, versus the normal buffet-style of previous years.
In addition, there will be no awards ceremony this year. Instead, each runner will receive packs of cookies provided by Heimbach’s Country Store, of Selinsgrove.
The run, always held weekend of Labor Day, will be held on Saturday. Race day registration is $30 and begins at 7:30 a.m. at Camp Mount Luther, 355 Mt. Luther Lane, Mifflinburg. Runners decide at that time if they want to do a 5k or 10k run. The 10k distance is included in the Rocksylvania 10k race series. The race will start at 9 a.m.
A Kids Fun Run for groups ages 6 and under, and ages 7 to 10, will also be held.
Also this year will be a one-mile fun walk. The same registration fees and amenities apply, or participants can walk without receiving amenities for $10. The walk will be on a dirt road.