Sunday, August 29, 2021 • Bear Gap, PA • Course Map
Set for its 12th annual running along the park roads and trails that wind through the Roaring Creek Tract of eastern Pennsylvania’s Weiser State Forest, the Hellbender 5K & Half Marathon race helps to raise both funds for and awareness of the mission of the Roaring Creek Valley Conservation Association, which seeks to promote better water quality and environmental health here in what is known as Pennsylvania’s Roaring Creek watershed.
The race gets its name from the species of aquatic salamander known as the hellbender, which are native to the hills and mountains of the eastern U.S., and can grow to as much as two feet long. Because they breathe through their skin, they require healthy, pristine, unpolluted streams and creeks to survive.
Due to development and urbanization over recent decades, however, many of their habitats have become fouled and their numbers have drastically declined — they’re just one of the many species the race organizers hope to benefit over the long term with their efforts here.
Both the 5K and the half marathon races follow out-and-back courses that start and finish at the Route 54 parking area in Bear Gap, which lies between the two small towns of Elysburg and and Mount Carmel.
From there, runners make their way along the roads that wind along the reservoir lakes inside this 9,000-acre park, one of 16 tracts that make up the Weiser State Forest in what is known as the ridge and valley region of eastern Pennsylvania.
The course for the half marathon is mostly fast and flat through the Roaring Creek Tract, and takes runners both along the shores of the lakes inside the park as well as on trails through its densely wooded forests.
Runners may register on the day of the race at the starting line area at 7:00 AM. The race starting time is scheduled for 8:00 AM, and in recent years organizers have handed out commemorative race t-shirts to the first 250 entrants at the race, which also is co-sponsored by the Susquehanna Ridge Runners Club.
Race Weather & Climate
Located in eastern Pennsylvania, about 130 miles northwest of Philadelphia and about 65 miles northeast of Harrisburg, Bear Gap typically sees August temperatures that range between 56°F and 80°F, with average monthly rainfall totals of about 3.3 inches.
On the day of the race (Aug. 29), the average low is 56°F and the average high is 80°F.
- 8:00 AM – half marathon
- 8:30 AM – 5K
- $60 and up for the half marathon
- $35 and up for the 5K
To reserve your spot in the 2021 running of Bear Gap’s Hellbender Half Marathon or 5K race, register online at RunSignup.com here.
Official Race Website
Ever run in the Hellbender Half? Share your impressions here, or post your review in the Comments below.