HARVARD -- The challenge of running on trails means keeping your eyes open for roots, rocks and uneven surfaces.

Trail running, once limited to a small group of avid purists, has been rising in popularity. Dirt has just enough hardness and leeway to make it an increasingly popular running surface.

Trail running has been growing in appeal to a wider audience, including those who are recovering from impact-related injuries such as shin splints, stress fractures, tendonitis, IT band syndrome and other similar aliments.

In trail running, there is a chance to enjoy nature as you run around trees, jump over roots and avoid rocks while breathing in the beauty of your surroundings. Every step can be an adventure.

So take the plunge and join us for the Harvard Conservation Trust's annual "Run for Hills" 5K Trail Race on Sept. 7 in Harvard. The Harvard Conservation Trust, in conjunction with the Harvard Road Race Association, is sponsoring its fifth annual 5K trail run/walk through some of Harvard's picturesque conservation land.

Runners of all ages are invited to join the race beginning at 10 a.m. at the McCurdy Track, 24 Lancaster County Road. The race will follow trails through the park and adjacent fields.

More than 250 adults and children participated in last year's event, which took place on a glorious Sunday afternoon.

"This race is a great opportunity to showcase the beauty and value of Harvard's open spaces," says Ted MacMahon, race director and Harvard Conservation Trust Trustee.


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"The planned route is suitable for all ages, runners and walkers will take you on a scenic tour through flat wooded areas and around open fields."

With respect to the Trust's 5K, "Run for the Hills is the only event of this kind we have sponsored," said MacMahon, "but Harvard has a long and deep history of trail running. Given the huge success of last year's event, I can see that this is something people will look forward to every year."

Thanks to the generous support of Presenting Sponsor Hemenway and Barnes, Platinum Sponsors: Drink Maple, Emerson Hospital, Global Fitness, Harvard Sweet Boutique, Harvard Realty, Software Services, Security Corporation, Shea-Coldwell Banker Realtor, Family Dental, Lane Farms and other sponsors, the 2014 Run for the Hills will feature extra goodies for participants, including product giveaways.

One hundred percent of the race proceeds will go to the Harvard Conservation Trust to further their mission "to preserve the unique character and natural resources of Harvard."

To register for the race, learn more about the Harvard Conservation Trust, or to become a member, visit the website at HarvardConservationTrust.org.

Early bird discounts and free T-shirts are offered through Aug. 18.