RUNNING: NEO to host 4th annual Empire Challenge |

RUNNING: NEO to host 4th annual Empire Challenge

The NEO Empire Challenge, which is part of the Gold Country Grand Prix, features a challenging 4 mile running course or a scenic 2 mile walking course. The course winds through the pine studded trails of Empire Mine.
Submitted photo |


WHAT: NEO Empire Challenge - Run & Walk

WHEN: 8:30 a.m., Saturday

WHERE: Empire Mine State Historic Park, 10791 E. Empire St. Grass Valley

REGISTER: Register online at: Onsite registration available the morning of the race beginning at 7:30 a.m.

COST: Adult walkers and runners $25, youth 18 and under $15.

New Events and Opportunities (NEO) will be hosting the fourth annual NEO Empire Challenge — Run & Walk at Empire Mine State Historic Park Saturday.

The NEO Empire Challenge, which is part of the Gold Country Grand Prix, features a challenging 4-mile running course or a scenic 2-mile walking course. The course winds through the pine-studded trails of Empire Mine.

“We are so lucky to live in Nevada County and have the most beautiful state park in our backyard,” said race director Gene Gilligan. “Empire Mine State Park is beautiful this time of year. You can enjoy the park and at the same time support NEO.”

This event is unlike any other in the area. NEO puts a unique spin on the traditional runs and walks by incorporating young volunteers and fun activities.

“The 4-mile run course puts you at the top of the park after passing through the ‘Where’s Waldo Woods,’” said Karen Wallack-Eisen, who serves on the event planning committee. “No other course includes surprise entertainment along the way.” 

The race awards are even one-of-a-kind engraved medallions sliced from a local Madrone tree.

“I support NEO because they are doing great things for the young people in our community,” said four-time sponsor and participant, Jim Pritchard, owner of Straight Line Services, “Because this run is a 4-mile hilly trail course, it’s both fast paced and challenging at the same time, which makes it a lot fun.”

Registration is $25 for adult runners and walkers and $15 for youth participants 18 and under. All ages and skill levels are encouraged to attend.

“The NEO Empire Challenge is an awesome family event,” Wallack-Eisen said. “What better way to start your day than a walk or a run on the beautiful Empire Mine trails?” 

Young kids can accompany their parents on the course for free and strollers are welcomed on the walker course.

All proceeds from the race go directly to supporting the NEO Youth Center. NEO provides free after school drop-in hours for middle school, high school and college-aged youth. NEO is a nonprofit organization that has been empowering Nevada County youth to thrive since 2008. NEO strives to help youth to make healthy lifestyle choices by providing New Events and Opportunities in a safe environment that encourages youth success and contributes to a healthier community.

“Come on out,” said Wallack-Eisen, “On Saturday the 14th to Empire Mine State Park and be amazed and energized! You’ll be glad you did and you’ll be supporting the NEO Youth Center in a big way.”

For more information or to register, visit or call NEO at 530-470-3869. Onsite registration will be open the morning of the race starting at 7:30 a.m. The race gets going at 8:30 p.m.

Source: Lynn Skrukrud, co-founder and co-director of NEO.

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