Hyner View Trail Challenge 16.8M , Hyner, PA

Elevation Gain: 4222'; High Point: 2100' Hyner View

April 18, 2009 - How do you find 770 regular, everyday people to run or hike up and down the steep anticlines and synclines of the rugged Pennsylvania Appalachians, crossing rocky, slippery streams, and nearly sliding on their butts down loose narrow trails, risking life and limb and sanity for several hours? Was it the endless supply of good beer as reward at the finish? Was it the ever warm camaraderie during and after the event? Was it the personal accomplishment of doing something larger than most may have ever experienced? Or was it by some clever overriding agenda of the race designers? Whatever the answers, this show is a model for the way to put on a trail running event.

It was another perfect day for adventure running in the mountains. RD Craig Fleming and company must have some sort of divine connection going to have such splendid weather in the middle of April the third year running. This year's course was identical to that of 2008, back by popular demand so to speak. I guess people couldn't get enough of SOB, or was it the beer... again???

I rolled in to the parking lot later than expected with a half hour to spare; I changed clothes and took care of nature before jogging up to the start area, with barely any time for society. Since the race would be a repeat of last year's event I came with a plan, regardless of being undertrained. Lining up with a fleet fellow I recognized - Frank Leiter (who would go on to finish second overall) - I aimed to get across the Susquehanna ahead of most of the people who would be walking once we hit single track trail up Huff Run. Chris and Laurie were there with me at the start as well, but I saw no one else I knew.

Hyner Profile

The start was dusty as before, down the hill before hitting the highway crossing the bridge. Penny Button from Wellsboro high-fived and went around me as I slowed to thank Craig for talking me into returning to the event this year. Once we hit the trail it was time for putting on my game face and getting down to business.

Unlike last year, since I positioned myself to be further up front, most people ahead of me were able to continue running up the trail without traffic congestion. While I was aiming to improve my performance this year, part of the plan was to ironically take Huff Run more conservatively... which I did, holding back from using extra energy to pass slower participants, mostly. After heading around John Goss I settled into a comfortable tempo and just stayed in line to the top. Aggressive running with such tricky footing in the woods could be disasterous, so I didn't open up my stride until I hit the road to the overlook at the top. Here I passed a few people as I began to race.


Running down the escarpment to the second aid station at the bottom before heading up Johnson Run was pure pleasure with the spectacular views of the river and valley and grassy runways. Unlike last year I didn't stumble or fall during the entire event, running within myself in my controlled folly. While most stream crossings along the run could be negotiated without getting wet feet, I chose to make a straight line across most crossings and yield to the fact that sooner or later I was going to get wet and dirty anyway. Slowing to tip-toe across the rocks killed the momentum of many of the people I passed in this section, working my way relentlessly up the hill with sloshy feet.

I had filled my second fluid bottle at the aid station at the bottom of Johnson Run, so was able to run through the next aid station and continue with good momentum down the draft into the hollow before again going vertical to revisit SOB. I knew from the past experience that the course from SOB to the finish is largely level and downhill, so I shifted gear and took off. The last five miles went by quickly, which is what you want in a race, and not the other way around. I sped past a half dozen participants who had bested me to this point at the aid station before the descent began and only saw one of them again.

The finish was easy, just maintaining the comfortable tempo I had kept throughout. The temperatures and low humidity had been perfect for me and I had dressed appropriately, using Perpetuem, Race Caps Supreme, Endurolytes, FRS, Anti-Fatigue Caps, and finally Recoverite to keep my blood chemistry where it should be during the duress of such exercise. Who said there isn't a science of doing this right? Lance Armstrong would be pleased. Hammer Nutrition is certainly pleased. And I am pleased that I have learned enough to continue to run well after so many tracks have been laid down in my life.

After comfortably running back to the car for a quick clean-up and change of clothes I jogged back and accompanied Penny a short way as she approached the finish, then proceeded to have a beer and socialize as old and new friends filed across the finish line in the next few hours. It was nice to hang with the Punxsutawney crew (below). While I have a genuine passion for running, it is the friendships you make and carry at such events as this that motivates me to continue to stay in condition and continue to participate.

While my left heel continues to present aggrevating pain during such rocky runs, I bear it with a mild limp and hope it continues to at least be less painful when I toe the line again in two weeks. Damage to the connective tissue of my right knee is much improved after taking off the winter. While I started the race with sore shoulders and back from hanging ceiling and a real sore right hamstring from squatting while staining wainscotting at my house, I have to say I am very satified with the result and improvement from last year, given I have had my work boots on more than my running shoes for the last three weeks. Since I ran within myself without strain for the entire distance, I felt no leg pain or unusual fatigue following the event. Someone might try to say it was the beer... but the following day proved they were exagerating.

While my finish was sometime late in the morning I didn't leave for home until after 5 p.m. Did I come to race or did I come to socialize? Both were rewarding. Hyner is an event I will look forward to again, and is already on my calendar for 2010. Craig informed me that they already had an interesting changed course laid out for next year. I don't think I can wait, so I have already sent in my entry form for the Rothrock 30K, another Craig Fleming trail challenge in June. It's my kind of challenge; these are my kind of people.

Jedirunner - Larry Creveling at Hyner 2009