North Park Trail Runners inclusive group that piles up the miles on any terrain

Monday, December 23, 2019 | 12:01 AM


Skip the pavement. The North Park Trail Runners can be found traversing wooded trails and dirt-covered paths.

The nonprofit, volunteer-based group officially started only a few years ago and is made up of a diverse group of runners who share a love for trails.

Anyone 18 or older can join. There is no fee and no skill requirement, except agreeing to the NPTR bylaws. The inclusive nature is what makes this group special, said board member Amy Nelson of Wexford.

And she said someone is always running. Their scheduled runs are posted on their website and happen about three to four times per week at different locations in North Park. She said they try to run as a group but there’s always someone ready to run, even in the cold.

The North Park Trail Runners also partner with other running groups and support other running events outside of their own.

When they host their own events, everything is free, and anyone, members or nonmembers, can register. However, members will get first on the list.

Nelson said the no fee factor helps make it more inclusive. Many of their runs feature varying distances to fit any runner’s ability.

There is a group run schedule on northparktrail runners.com. Already there are runs scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on New Year’s Eve and 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 2. Pop-up runs are also common.

The next open event is the Frigid 5 Miler on Jan. 12, which is hosted by an outside group. Their website provides a link to the event’s registration page.

They are hosting the NPTR Frozen Goat once again on Feb. 29 at the North Park Ice Rink, and registration is free on the website.

They also host a Team Scavenger Hunt that sends participants on a hunt throughout North Park, but it’s full for this year.

All ages are welcome, too, said Nelson, who is 47.

“A lot of us have kids, and we definitely try to get them out,” said Nelson.

They also may run in nearby parks, such as Raccoon State Park, Moraine State Park, Settlers Cabin Park or War Memorial Park in Sewickley.

North Park Trail Runners realize the importance of what they have to run on. So they are dedicated to supporting the North Park trails. Their first big philanthropic effort is working with the North Park staff and Tree Pittsburgh to help replace and repair the tree canopy in North Park, particularly along the trails, said Nelson.

The group runs the gamut on age ranges, skill levels and types.

“It’s a diverse group of people — so many backgrounds vary,” she said.

Mike Ewing, who’s been a member since 2015, said their strength is making the group inclusive for all types of members.

“We celebrate each individual runner,” he said.

Ewing of the North Hillssaid there are varying economic and social backgrounds in the group, and no major running experience is needed.

He agrees they really try to support each other. Ewing said that group mentality is important to them.

“We take part in each other’s successes,” said Ewing, 44.

For more information or to register for an upcoming event, visit northparktrail runners.com.