Race Director Kirsten Tallman (left) at the 2013 Valley Forge Revolutionary 5-mile Run
It was originally a bike ride that connected two National Historical Parks: Valley Forge and Philadelphia.
It has since morphed into a multifaceted event that draws runners from up and down the east coast, all eager to tackle the hills and trails once inhabited by General George Washington and his struggling Continental Army. They come representing various ages, interests and levels of performance. They come braving the often nippy temperatures of a late April morning, just after sunrise. They come to challenge themselves, yes, but also to support a local icon.
Drawing them together is the Valley Forge Revolutionary 5-Mile Run®. Now in its ninth year, the run offers a full slate of activities for all interests. Serious runners test their mettle on a course that parallels the Joseph Plumb Martin Trail, named for a renowned teenage diarist during the Revolutionary War. Younger runners show their own determination against a 1.776 km trek by the huts of the Muhlenberg Brigade, the outer line of American defense against a possible British attack some 237 years ago. And those desiring a slower pace amble by the National Memorial Arch. A runners' expo is also part of the festivities, and race results are monitored by USA Track & Field, which has certified both the event and the course.
Race Director Kirsten Tallman is commander-in-chief of a corps of volunteers, representatives from the running community and the resources of the Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau, all of whom come together to pull off the monumental task of a run among monuments.
She recalls her first steps at getting involved with the Rev Run: "I was a stay at home mom. My son at that time was in nursery school, and I went to the park to get back in shape. So I walked. I walked every day. One mile and then back to my car. One day, I walked beyond the one-mile mark and did the whole trail - I wasn't even sure at the time where it went. But I did the entire loop. And I felt on top of the world."
She began upping the challenge, incorporating small running distances into her walking. "I got to the point where I could run half the distance and walk the other half, eventually running 2.5 miles. And then, over time, the entire five-mile distance."
Covering that distance, her appreciation for the setting grew. "I kept thinking: If there's something I could do to support this park because it just lifts me up, I would do it," Tallman remembers.
She joined a volunteer group that was spearheading the evolution of a bike ride through history to a run through history. Her love of Valley Forge made her an apt spokesperson for the assets of the park, and her viewpoint as a runner became valuable to the planning committee. "When it came to race time, I always did packet pickup," Tallman relates. "That was my thing. And I loved it because I could sit at the packet pickup table and people would come and ask me about the course and the park and I could go on and on."
Her role expanded until she joined the staff of the Visitors Bureau as a liaison, working daily in a setting of huts, cannons, visitors and running enthusiasts.
Still, Valley Forge remained her go-to running site. She enjoys the setting. And the solace. "That park is a silent running partner," she describes. "I run by myself. And against that backdrop - it's like wallpaper - I've planned my child's nursery; I've picked out colors for my house; I've planned holiday dinners there. It's just a place where you can unplug and it just lets you go. It just lets you go. But it's beautiful. And it reminds you that there's bigger things out there than just you."
Her input became so valuable to the success of the Rev Run that she was made Race Director in 2013. Official certification from the Road Runners Club of America followed in 2014.
Tallman's passion for Valley Forge, both as a national historical treasure and a location in which to log a few inspiring miles, keeps her moving forward, especially as prep time ebbs away to race day, April 27, 2014. "The idea of doing an event that supports the Valley Forge Park is huge. It's a national treasure that we have right in our backyard. The best thing we can do for it is to maintain its sustainability and its messaging and its history and its quilt."
She concludes: "People can run for their health; they can run to clear their minds; they can run in support of someone else; they can run in support of the park. There are just so many reasons to run in Valley Forge."
There are a number of ways you can get involved in the Ninth Annual Valley Forge Revolutionary 5-Mile Run®:
- Sign up to run yourself
- Join in with the walkers
- Register your 6-12 year-old runner
- Urge your place of employment to become a Rev Run sponsor
- Volunteer for the day
- Show up and cheer on the athletes
It's a day of inspirational athletics, set against of our area's most inspirational backdrops.
It's also surrounded by a number of first-class hotels and accommodations, all with easy access post-race. If you want to grab a room on the night before race day or rest in luxury while celebrating a stellar finish time, check the list of options on our website.