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Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest: Face the Forest 5K Obstacle Course Run

Written by Carrie Eobbi, Liberty University Intern

Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest will be hosting their annual Face the Forest 5K Obstacle Course Run on Saturday, August 19 from 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. This challenging 3.1 mile course will take place on the Poplar Forest grounds with multiple obstacles and mud interactions throughout. The $45 registration fee will go to supporting Poplar Forest’s children’s educational program. All ages and abilities are welcome to participate. Registration fee will increase to $55 after August 16.
Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest is a National Historic Landmark located in Forest, VA. Jefferson’s private retreat turned “historic masterpiece” provides a unique opportunity to learn about Jefferson’s life right in our backyard. Poplar Forest was “his most personal architectural creation and the place where he came to rekindle his creativity and fulfill his individual pursuit of happiness.”
Poplar Forest is also seeking volunteers to assist this event. Some opportunities include the building of obstacles and setting up before race day, as well as day-of help with parking, monitoring runners, manning refreshment stands, and assisting with childcare. Lastly, they are seeking assistance with post-race breakdown of the obstacles and course. All race volunteers are eligible for a free race registration and a guest pass to tour Poplar Forest. Volunteer opportunities can be found here.
Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest will be holding many other events this upcoming fall season including a Stargazing event on Saturday, September 9th at 7:30 p.m. There is a Naturalization Ceremony Friday, September 15th from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Lastly, there are Archaeology Behind the Scenes Tours on Friday, October 13 and Saturday, October 14 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., both days.
We were able to meet with Mary Massie, the Director of Programs and Education at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest to ask a few questions about this upcoming event as well as others at Poplar Forest.
Q: What makes your upcoming Face the Forest Obstacle Course Run stand out compared to years past of this event?

A: Face the Forest is such a unique event for our site. It opens up the property for participants like no other event we host by having everyone race through the woods and fields that normally aren't accessible to visitors. Participants run a 5K race with over a dozen fun obstacles to complete and at the end of the race, they get refreshments and prizes for those who win certain waves.

Q: What are some past events that have stood out to you?
A: We do so many great events throughout the year that I'm proud of, but the one that sticks out the most to me is our annual production of 1776 the Musical which we host the weekend before July 4th each year. So many members of the community come together to give their time and talent to put on a challenging musical and it's incredibly impressive to be a part of it each year. The other event I'm particularly proud of is The Day is Past and Gone, an original theatrical production that highlights stories of the enslaved people who lived at Poplar Forest. Teresa Harris, a local African-American playwright and member of our Board of Directors and African American Advisory Groups writes three vignettes based on real people and events at Poplar Forest. We finish the night with a Q&A and it's always interesting hearing the questions the audience comes up with and how interested they are in hearing more about the people featured in the vignettes.

Q: Why is Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest so important to the Lynchburg community?

A: Poplar Forest is the only home of a Founding Father in the Lynchburg area and with the opening of our new Poplar Forest Parkway and walking trails, we also have the closest semblance to a public park in the area that residents can take advantage of. The historic house itself is an award-winning restoration project that's been undertaken with a dedication to historic preservation methods, one of the most unique restoration projects in the country.

Q: What are some upcoming events you're looking forward to this fall?

A: We are very excited to bring our annual production of the play "Jefferson and Adams" by Howard Ginsberg back to the Academy Center of the Arts on October 7. This play explores the tumultuous relationship between Thomas Jefferson and John and Abigail Adams using their actual writings to examine how Jefferson and John Adams went from close allies during the Continental Congress, to political enemies in the early 19th century, back to friends in their retirement years. We're also looking forward to the 14th annual Thomas Jefferson Wine Festival on November 11 which is always a ton of fun. A dozen Virginia wineries as well as local food vendors and artisans are on hand for attendees to sample their wares. Live music throughout the day and a visit from Thomas Jefferson himself cap off a day filled with fun.
To learn more about Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest Face the Forest 5K Obstacle Course Run as well as their other upcoming events, visit their page on SHARE Greater Lynchburg.

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