The highlight of the day was the first annual Belmont Plateau Hall of Fame Classic, a 5,000 meter (5K) race and 1 mile run/walk open to all ages and featuring some of the region’s past and present track stars, including 2008 Olympic distance runner Erin Donahue and 1984 Olympic marathoner Gary Fanelli.
The event also celebrated the launch of the newly established Belmont Plateau Cross Country Hall of Fame, founded by Philadelphia University head track coach Dave Thomas to honor the talented runners, coaches, officials and championship teams that have competed at The Plateau over the years.
After 50 years of heavy use by college, high school, and youth teams, the historic trails had fallen into disrepair. Recognizing the need for reinvestment in the course, in 2013 the Fairmount Park Conservancy, in collaboration with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, began raising funds by selling charity bibs for the Broad Street Run and soliciting contributions from the run’s participants. Over three years, the fundraising effort has directed $150,000 to the Belmont Plateau Trail Restoration Project, which has made landscape and trail improvements, installed new, clearer course signage, and allocated funds for future maintenance.
Proceeds from the Belmont Plateau Hall of Fame Classic will benefit both the cross-country race course and the new Hall of Fame.
When you have a trail used by Olympic athletes in the middle of your city, you’ve got to maintain that legacy,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “The City of Philadelphia is thrilled to see renowned athletes continuing to make use of one of our park system’s iconic resources.”
Michael DiBerardinis, Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources and Commissioner of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, said, “The restoration of the Belmont Plateau trails is a great example of what happens when the City, nonprofit partners like the Fairmount Park Conservancy, and local volunteers work together to prioritize what matters to the community.”
Kathryn Ott Lovell, Executive Director of the Fairmount Park Conservancy, said “The Fairmount Park Conservancy is delighted to collaborate with committed citizens like coach Dave Thomas who recognize the value of maintaining the unique assets in our parks for the recreation and enjoyment of all.”
She added, “I’d like to especially thank the more than 250 people who’ve run on the Conservancy’s Broad Street Run team as well as the other runners who’ve made contributions to the Belmont Plateau restoration project.”