Hoofing it for a Cause

HoofIt-498

Race calendars offer athletes a multitude of events promoted as fundraising events for charitable programs. Many runners, walkers and cyclists appreciate knowing that the race fees they pay go farther than a t-shirt and timing chip. Hoof it for Heifer race director Wanda Eason knows “it takes everybody doing their part to make a difference. The running community’s personality as a whole puts them in tune with Heifer International’s emphasis on caring for the earth in Arkansas and around the world…I think our runners would be interested to know that they can get fresh and organically grown Arkansas produce while supporting Arkansas farmers who are trying to get back to their roots.”

Negotiating the rocks less than a mile into the run.

Negotiating the rocks less than a mile into the run.

The Hoof it for Heifer 20K trail run at Petit Jean State Park is in its third year and has grown from less than 50 registrants the first year to more than 100 in its third year. This is great news for Eason and her team of volunteers. The race is a fundraiser for Heifer Project International and specifically for this year, the Seeds of Change program.By this year’s 70th anniversary of Heifer Project, more than 105.1 million people around the world will have been served by one of Heifer’s many international programs. Many of us are concerned with the domestic as well as the global repercussions of corporate agriculture and undernourishment from lack of access to fresh foods. The Seeds of Change program is a relatively new endeavor, pairing the Heifer Project with local farmers in Arkansas who want to make a difference right here in our own backyard. Sometimes quite literally in our own backyard, by promoting gardening and farming in areas of great agricultural availability like the Arkansas Delta and Appalachia, where the ground is fertile but small farmers are not as plentiful as they once were.  Eason says Seeds of Change was chosen because “we want to help bring more awareness to this new initiative for Heifer International. Many people associate Heifer International with projects in other countries. The Heifer volunteers who put on this run think it is important for people to know that there are programs in the United States and even more importantly in our own state. ”

The Seven Hollows Trail is a beautiful run/hike in the Spring.

The Seven Hollows Trail is a beautiful run/hike in the Spring.

The Hoof it for Heifer course takes runners on a tour of Arkansas history and the history of the people who have lived atop the mountain, including pioneer farmers and the CCC workers who toiled to build many of the structures still used in the park today. The course follows the Winthrop Rockefeller Boy Scout trail which encompasses at least part of almost every trail in the park. Runners experience smooth singletrack and rocky paths; steep climbs and flat expanses. The abundant water features on the course include stream crossings, small waterfalls and if runners take the time to look,  a beautiful view at the Cedar Falls Overlook. Rock features like the Natural Bridge, slot canyons in the Bear Cave area, and the well known “turtle rocks” add to the beautiful scenery that at this time of year also includes an abundance of blooming dogwoods.

Running in the shadows of the bluffs.

Running in the shadows of the bluffs.

As registration continues to grow for this annual event, Eason says she expects that runners will continue to enjoy the “sense of accomplishment in completing a challenging course and a feeling that they are contributing to help families who face a challenging course in feeding their families every day.”

The folks from Heifer Ranch brought some Alpacas to visit with after the run.

The folks from Sweet Clover Alpaca Farm in Conway brought some Alpacas to visit with after the run.

Tax deductible donations can be made at the trail run website. Potential sponsors can also find information about joining the effort for next year’s race on the site. If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact the race director at racedirector@heifertrailrun.com

Stopping by the Heifer Ranch on the way home.

Stopping by the Heifer Ranch on the way home.

Results are already posted.

Over 400 photos are now posted on our Facebook Page, enjoy.

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