Olympic Runners help dedicate restored Belmont Plateau Running Trails

On  Sunday,  August  30,  the  Fairmount  Park  Conservancy  and  Philadelphia  Parks  &  Recreation  joined  a group  of  local track coaches  in  unveiling  newly  restored  cross-country trails  on the Belmont  Plateau  in  Fairmount  Park.

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.

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 12.01.26 PMThe  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.”

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