Sunday, July 28, 2013

Eco Relay Race a New Event at Lake Arthur Regatta

By Karen Price, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

When avid kayakers Christina and Michael Handley of Freedom grew weary of paddling past everything from tires to an old riding lawn mower in the Connoquenessing Creek last year, they started the nonprofit Allegheny Aquatic Alliance.

In one cleanup day alone last year, a group of 150 volunteers pulled nearly 55,000 pounds of trash from the waterway. On Aug. 3, they will host the first Quest for the King Eco Relay Race as part of the Lake Arthur Regatta at Moraine State Park.

For them, it's a way to not only support the park but get people involved in the outdoors and — hopefully — interested in doing their part for the health of the environment.

“Once people are out and enjoying the outdoors, they begin to realize how important nature is and they can become more inspired to make a difference,” Christina Handley said.

“We wanted to help promote the regatta and the park and the diversity it has to offer. There
are so many different activities you can do at Moraine that we decided to incorporate a bunch of them into one race to make it a fun and competitive team experience for the community.”

Teams of up to five participants will cover 18 miles via biking, trail running, canoeing and kayaking. It's one of the newest events that people can participate in during the 15th annual regatta and festival.

Held Aug. 3 and 4, the event is designed to highlight Butler County in general and Moraine State Park in particular while getting people outdoors.

“We do tailor it to young people to get them away from the TV, away from the Internet and portray that part of Butler County as an area where they can go get some exercise and get outdoors,” said Sam Barill, who's been the vendor coordinator for the regatta for the past 10 years.

Another new activity this year is a lesson on building a low-cost canoe at home and a workshop on making safe and natural household and personal care products.
Visitors, as always, will be able to try out the climbing wall, canoes and kayaks as well as get information on a wide variety of local and national outdoor recreational activities.
The event draws from 10,000 to 30,000 people, Barill said, depending on the weather.
Admission and parking are free, with most activities beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday at the Pleasant Valley Beach area on the South Shore of the park. Saturday closes with fireworks over the lake, and the regatta and festival end at 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Registration for the Quest for the King begins at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday, and the race begins at 9 a.m. The cost is $100 per team.

The course begins at the Lakeview parking area with a bike trip along the trail to the Moraine Outdoors Center and back for a combined eight miles.

From there, the second and third team members will canoe three miles to the Pleasant Valley area, where the fourth team member will run three miles along the Sunken Garden Trail. The last component of the race will be a four-mile kayak.

To register for the Quest for the King, visit For more information on the regatta and festival, visit

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