VALLEY FORGE >> Registration is open for the annual Valley Forge Revolutionary 5-Mile Run (Rev Run) presented by the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board on Sunday, April 17 at 8:30 a.m. This year is the 40th year anniversary of the Valley Forge National Historical Park and the 100th year anniversary of the National Park Service. The race falls within National Park Week which is held from April 16 to April 24.
The Rev Run is a USA Track & Field (USATF) certified run, meaning it is a carefully measured out course that abides by certain safety standards to take runners through the park’s rich history. Valley Forge was the site of the 1777-78 winter encampment of the Continental Army, who needed a place to stay while the British were in Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War.
Though the park’s Visitor’s Center is in Montgomery County, this 3,500 acre park spills into Chester County as well. It is also a part of five townships: Tredyffrin, Lower Providence, West Norriton, Upper Merion and Schuylkill.
“During the Continental War, Washington chose Valley Forge because of its topography,” said Kirsten Tallman, Rev Run race director. “They set up their line of defense in a triangle. Valley Forge Park has a small hill range which we call Mount Joy and Mount Misery and then there’s the Schuylkill River. Because of this structure, soldiers could protect the land and see the British coming in to attack.”
Valley Forge is also known as the birthplace of the organized army. During the Revolutionary War, soldiers came to Valley Forge from many different states to fight in what is called a ragtag: an undisciplined and unorganized collection of soldiers. Prussian-born American officer Baron von Steuben, knowing there is strength in numbers, trained the army to be unified within Valley Forge Park.
Runners receive a glance of this unification in the run. “It’s a nice parallel, the training and perseverance,” said Tallman. “Runners feel like they can do it if the soldiers could have done it when they were here and in those conditions.”
Runners start at the Muhlenberg Brigade Huts, a reproduction of the log cabins the continental soldiers would have been in. Around the first mile mark, right after the first big hill, runners see the statue of General Anthony Wayne, which looks out onto Paoli, where his home was. Two and a half miles in holds the marquee monument where Washington put his tent up the first night he and his soldiers camped at the park. After the third mile, runners should expect to see the statue of Baron von Steuben.
Mile four holds the Patriots of African Descent Monument, which “expands the story of who was at Valley Forge,” said Tallman. “It wasn’t just white soldiers. There were women, children, African Americans; there were all kinds of people you could relate to and the course holds those reminders.”
In fact, mentioned John Golden, director of communications, Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board, “The Continental Army was the most diversified army up until Korea.”
At the end of the race, there is a quarter mile uphill finish and an expo with vendors past the finish line.
“It’s a really good gateway,” said Tallman. “Now that you’re here in the park, we can show you what else is in Montgomery County. That’s our job.”
The top three male and female runners in each age division receive prizes. There are more than 90 prizes awarded each year.
For those who don’t want to run, there is also a three mile walk and a 1.776 km (1.1 mile) Young Patriot’s Fun Run for children 6 through 14, beginning at 8:40 and 8:50 a.m. respectively.
The race has raised a total of $242,000 over the past ten years, with approximately $15,000 the first year and $35,000 last year, according to Tallman. This money goes to the Friends of Valley Forge, which holds the money to enhance the Park and Visitor Center experience. The race normally fluctuates between 1,000 and 1,500 runners.
Before March 17, the price of the run is $35 and the walk is $20, with a $2 discount given to USATF members. The fun run is $10. After March 17, these prices increase to $40, $25 and $15 respectively. There is no race day registration.
Those interested can register online at revolutionaryrun.org, download a mail-in registration form, or register in-person at the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Building on April 15 and 16.