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FRIDAY, AUGUST 4, 2017 - 8:30pm NIGHT RACE

The Northeast Running Club's Dark Horse 5k Challenge is not just a plain old 5K race. And it doesn't matter how fast or slow you run or walk.

Have a blast running in Chagrin River Park at night with your headlamp or flashlight on trails with glow luminaries and special fun challenge stations to earn more chances to win many, many raffle prizes.

Optional game and exercise challenges along the race course including a possible shallow water crossing (weather permitting). Other challenges are listed in the FAQ section below. Raffle awards and prizes for completion of challenges (and not based on fastest finish line time). This is not an officially timed race, but a clock will be available at the finish.

Grab your headlamp/flashlight and bring your family, kids, neighbors, and friends out to enjoy an evening party in the park while you have fun getting fit together!

Location: Lake MetroPark Chagrin River Park, 3100 Reeves Road, Willoughby, OH 44094

Fee: $17 by May 31st. $20 between June 1st and June 30th. $25 between July 1st and race day (August 4th). Includes free Dark Horse t-shirt, while supplies last

Field is limited to first 250 participants due to trail and parking capacity limitations, so register early!

Packet pick-up:  Thursday, August 3rd from 12-7pm at Second Sole of Mentor. Or at the race starting at 7:30pm

Proceeds benefit:  Lake MetroParks Foundation & Northeast Running Club's Scholarship Fund for local area high school runners.

Contact:  Angela Pohl,


Paper Registration: Dark Horse 5k Challenge 2017 registration flyer

Dark Horse FAQ’s

Q: When and where is packet pick up?

A: You can pick up your race bib, safety pins, and t-shirt on Thursday, August 3rd at Second Sole Mentor between 12-7pm or at the race on August 4th starting at 7:30pm.

Q: Where do I park?

Parking can be crowded, even when there’s no race.

The main pavilion and start/finish is closest to the Reeves Road entrance at 3100 Reeves Road, Willoughby 44094. Take Rt. 2 to Lost Nation Road and go north. Turn left onto Reeves Road. Chagrin River Park is located on the left.

There is parking at the other entrances and then use the trails to walk to the main pavilion.

Erie Road entrance address: 37699 Erie Road, Willoughby 44094.

Erie Road entrance (from the east): Take Route 2 to the Lost Nation Road exit and go south to St. Clair Street (directly across from the east-bound Route 2 / Lost Nation exit ramp). Go west on St. Clair Street to Erie Road. Turn right. Chagrin River Park is located on the right.

Erie Road entrance (from the west): Take Route 2 to the Lost Nation Road exit. Follow St. Clair Street (located directly across from the exit ramp) to Erie Road. Turn right. Chagrin River Park is located on the right.

Rural Drive entrance: Take Rt. 2 to Lost Nation Road and go north. Turn left onto Reeves Road; pass the Reeves Road entrance and follow to Rural Drive. Turn left and the entrance is located at the end of Rural Drive. Address: 1000 Rural Drive, Eastlake, OH 44095

Q: When and where does the race start?

A: The 5k challenge starts at 8:30pm. The starting line will be near the volleyball court across the road from the main pavilion near the Reeves Road entrance. The start will be at 3100 Reeves Road, Willoughby, OH 44094.

Q: What are the raffle prizes?

A: Prizes to be announced

Q:  Is the race timed?

A: There will be a clock at the finish line. However, this is not an officially timed race. We do not want participants to rush through optional challenges such as the river crossing.

Q:  Why do I need a flashlight / headlamp?

A: The park and trails will get dark soon after the start of the race. There will be luminaries on the back two miles, but your own light source will be helpful. It will also be helpful for you to read your raffle tickets or bib number at the end of the race.

Q:  Are there awards?

A: There are no awards for finishing the race faster than others. Prizes are from a raffle and tickets are awarded by completing several challenges along the 5k course.

Q:  What is the terrain of the course?

A: Most of the course is paved trail and compacted gravel. You will run in the grass for short stretches. There is one hill that is part of the course. The hill is grass but you have a choice to go up and down a set of stairs. There is an optional shallow river crossing (weather permitting) with a short but steep dirt hill to get back onto the main trail.


Q:  Will there be food and water stops?

A: There will be bagels, apples, cookies, and water at the finish.  There is no mid-course water stop, but there is a water fountain around halfway near the shelter and restrooms near the Rural Road entrance.

Q:  Can I transfer my race entry to someone else?

A: Yes, contact Race Director, Angela Pohl (

Q:  Can I sign up for the race on the day of the race?

A: Yes, IF there are any spots left (limited to 250), but please come early. We will have registration near the main pavilion at the Reeves Road entrance starting at 7:30pm. Cash or check only

Q:  What are the challenges like?

A: Weather permitting, there will be an optional wet crossing of the Chagrin River in a shallow area. Other challenges will be announced and updated here closer to the event. Challenges are kid-friendly. In the past, challenges have included a boxing station, running up or rolling down a hill, skipping down the finishing chute, and dancing.

Q:  Can I bring my dog on the race?

A: While dogs are allowed in the park, dogs are not allowed as part of the 5k race. Because it will already be dark and possibly crowded on parts of the trails, it could be dangerous for fellow participants and for the dog.

Q:  What if I’m not sure I can run a whole 5k?

A: It doesn’t matter if you cannot run a whole 5k distance. There are no awards for speed. There will be a clock at the finish line, but it is not an officially timed race. Prizes are based on a raffle, and you can earn more raffle chances by completing the challenges.

Q:  What is the race course?

A: Download a map of the park here:

  • Start in the grass field next to the volleyball court, which is near the restrooms at the Reeves Road entrance.
  • Run up a slight incline that leads to the bridge.
  • Cross the bridge and take the immediate right.
  • This will take you on the outside loop which is Brambleside trail.
  • At mile one there will be the option to go down the hill next to the bridge, follow the shoreline and then cross the river and join the paved trail which leads back to the other side of the bridge – OR – people can just cross the bridge again then go straight ahead across the road.
  • Once you have crossed the road, take the Song Bird Loop trail that goes into the woods.
  • At the fork, take the right to the Woodland Run Trail.
  • At 1.5 miles in, you will come to a pavilion and restrooms and water fountain.  There will be a boxing-related challenge from Title Boxing at the pavilion.
  • Continue on the outside loop straight past the restrooms onto Riverwood Loop Trail and follow it counterclockwise.
  • When the trail splits, take the one to the right toward the hill.
  • The challenge is to crawl like a bear up the hill. Come back down the hill however you want.
  • Stay on Song Bird Loop Trail going clockwise.
  • Make a right to take the connector back to the main pavilion and dance through it for your next challenge.
  • The final challenge will be to skip your way down the finish chute. Bonus points for doing skipping to the finish while holding hands with another participant and crossing the finish line together. It might be your family member or friend, but it doesn't have to be! Stay safe and have fun out there!  🙂