Hyner View Trail Challenge 16.8M, Hyner, PA

Elevation Gain: 4222'; High Point: 2100'

April 19, 2008 - Having really enjoyed the premier Hyner Trail Challenge event last year, I registered early to come back. The race organizers change the course each year, much as at Megatransect, keeping novelty and challenge in the forefront of their designs. As it would turn out RD Craig Fleming exceeded expectations in putting together a gutsy hard course of greater distance than last year's 25K.

A large part of the Hyner appeal is the social attraction and the endless food and drink. Many people I know were there, many of whom I invited. It was as much a coming together of friends as it was a racing event. After piling into Monyak's van a bunch of us rode over to the race in plenty of time to get registered and socialize a bit before the race began. It is always good fun to travel together.

The weather again was outstanding, especially from a support point of view - a bit warm, but very pleasant. After sharing some laughs we milled around at the start before heading out to take on this new course. I began easy as the field began to separate crossing the Susquehanna River on the highway bridge before hitting single track.

The trailhead was immediately congested as we left the pavement and began the long two-mile climb of Huff Run. I was breathing easy as I moved up the trail, so began passing other runners (walkers) ahead of me. I'd follow someone for a piece (depends on how pretty her legs were) and then pass whenever I had some running space to move forward. I caught Meanor on the way up along with perhaps twenty others who had gotten across the bridge ahead of me. The trail up Huff Run is narrow and is angled steeply toward the creek. A hasty move here could be catastrophic along the sometimes slippery trail.

At the top I was picking up some momentum and running well within myself as we cut hard right through the woods on new trail over toward the overlook at Hyner View. I picked up a companion here in a fellow I knew from Reading - one of the RATS. We moved together past the overlook without stopping for aid and headed down the switchbacks on the other side, carefully protecting the knees getting down to the escarpment. The trail from here wondered gradually to an aid station where I refilled my bottle before the switchbacked descent into Johnson Run. The weather was surprisingly warm and sweaty. I was drinking more than usual to compensate, wishing I had brought some Perpetuem and E-caps.

Hyner View

My RATS friend dropped back as I kept a healthy tempo. After reaching the creek at the bottom, the trail would climb for three miles before reaching the top and more aid. I kept my momentum and gradually picked off one runner after another as I wound back and forth with the stream, criss-crossing it following the trail with fancy footwork on stepping stones to keep my feet dry. Swarms of mosquitos had emerged to provide unwanted entertainment and not so tasty protein, but did serve to motivate me to not slow down. The top is reached after a nasty last climb up the "psycho path". Again, after more fluids to quench a hearty thirst, I proceded across a flat area before descending into the next drainage basin called Post Draft Hollow on a very rocky trail before finally reaching the bottom.

Hyner Profile

Doug Craft was sitting on the sidelines here and said he'd been injured. It appeared like he was withdrawing, so I facetiously suggested he crawl if he couldn't run. Returning to climbing, I continued to move past other runners as I traced up Cleveland Hollow, once again crossing the stream back and forth without getting my feet wet. I still felt fine until I reached the end of the hollow at Mile 12 to meet the irreputable, nasty vertical pitch called SOB. It was time to bend over and touch the earth, literally, to gain advantage on the climb. Given the heat and need for water again, I was forced to moderate a bit to reach the top. Doug hollered up from the bottom to let me know he was doing what it took to continue, which made me happy.

At the top of SOB I begged for a bottle of water from a couple guys there who had nothing to do with the race. I was thirsty and convincing, more so than others who must also have been thirsty. A long runway followed a jeep path on the ridge, but I couldn't recover my momentum after the climb. I eased along with another fellow who seemed more parched than me, so I gave him my bottle of water and did without. I was laboring here, again wishing I had brought supplementation to give me a boost.

After getting some water before heading back down Huff Run, I eased back and let a few healthier runners go by me without argument. The race in me was over. I continued on to the finish without my mojo in tow. It wasn't until I got off the trail and again hit the pavement that I increased my tempo with sure footing to get back across the river before making my way up the final climb to the Sportsman's Club and the finish.

I finished in 3:40:06, fifty minutes beyond last year's time, in 26th place of 534 finishers. The course was longer and much more challenging, but I enjoyed the heck out of it. For the rest of the afternoon I ate burgers, drank beer, and talked to seemingly half the field of runners. It was a grand picnic that I just wasn't anxious to leave. I will come back for an encore performance here, but next time I will be better prepared with fluids and nutrients to race the entire course.

See Hyner Course Map below:

At Hyner 25K in 2007