With the end of April comes one of the best trail races that Pennsylvania has to offer - the Hyner View Trail Challenge. This year, I entered into the 50k race for the second year in a row, with it being the first race of the PA Triple Crown. The race, as always, comes full of beautiful views, challenging singletrack, stout competition, and grueling climbs and descents.
I've pulled most of the data together and, in a separate post, will be analyzing and looking over the finish times and how that's changed over time, as a continuation of the post I did last year. Below is more of a race report and how the race went for me.
First Race of the Season
From the start, I had a feeling this race would go better for me than last year. I've been putting in more hours training, and have actually been sticking to a pretty decent training schedule. One indicator I use is what I call "the lugnut." Basically, just a route that I know that is 9 miles with 1100 ft of vert, and I try and do it once a month. My last attempt on the lugnut, I kept telling myself "Take it slow. Nice and easy..." I guess the slow part is relative, as that was my fastest time yet. So at the start line of Hyner, I was feeling confident I could hit my goal of under 6 hours.
Getting across the bridge at the start of Hyner can be a slugfest. Those willing to grind out a fast mile on the road are rewarded by little hindrance once entering the singletrack on the way to the first climb - "Humble Hill." I ended up towards the front, but not so far as to see the leaders.
I made it to the top without blowing my legs out too much, only to decide and sprint down the first major descent. I had a lot of fun going fast on semi-technical downhill, but ultimately my legs paid the price for it later.
Running along Johnson Run (a creek) is one of the best sections of the race. The bright green buds on the trees, along with the low vegetation all along the hillside, and full stream from a wet winter meant we all got to enjoy nature on Earth Day, while getting our feet soaked. Seriously, if anyone thought they were going to keep their feet dry, their dreams were most likely crushed like a soggy waffle.
The 50k addition to the 25k course was a great time to see how fast I could really push myself without falling apart. The beginning portion of the 50k addition is a long steep climb up a trail called "Sledgehammer Trail." It's also a segment on Strava which makes it easy to show here.
3 miles at 8% grade. Not exactly the steepest of ascents, but the grade is just at that point where you can run it, but are going to be in a lot of pain. I opted for walking and like to consider myself smart for that (and everyone else was doing it, so that means I was doing the right thing).
As was the theme of the day, once you go up, go straight back down... then up again. On the next uphill is where I hit my wall. It was around mile 16 or so, and my legs felt like chunks of meat slowing me down. The trail was quite rocky and wet, and I was hoping I had a way to drill holes in my shoes to let them drain, or somehow float over the water. Since neither happened, I slogged it out with shoes that sounded like a beaver's tail hitting the water every time I hit the ground. It didn't change the feeling though, which was reminiscent of how I felt when I DNF'd at my first 100 miler (Run Rabbit Run - made it 70 miles). I was feeling pretty beat down, and the terrain wasn't helping.
At this point Mark Frey mentioned to me how the rocky section is what I should be expecting for a majority of Eastern States 100, the final battle to win to be considered a Triple Crown finisher. I made a note of the terrain and quietly said sorry-in-advance to my ankles.
By the time I met back up with the 25k runners, I finally felt better after downing some coke and getting back into a groove (I think my blood sugar was low). The last two descents were filled with calls of "On your left!" or someone in front of me turning around in bewilderment of the strange animal barreling down at them (it was just my heavy footfall). You're reminded of how treacherous the trail can be after being greeted by medical personnel on call at the bottom of a long technical descent, ensuring they could respond ASAP.
At around mile 15, one of the guys I had been running with mentioned that we were on pace to finish well under 6 hours. However, at mile 25, he was now far ahead of me and I was no longer sure how I was doing with projected finish. I soaked in the sights on the final descent of Huff Run as much as my socks were wet, and tried to put what I had left into the final approach to the finish.
The final stretch home had me itching to get some beer and change socks. I made it under 6 hours! My final time was 5:53:31. Not only that, Meghan was running the 25k and I was greeted by her at the finish, and that was a welcome surprise.
The Long Cooldown Before the End
The post-race activities at Hyner definitely make it one of the most solid races in PA. I got to have some tasty beer, filling food, and just relax at the picnic while getting warm after. Lots of people were recapping stories or stealing the axe from the winners, or standing in line forever for some food.
![Running along the singletrack approach towards Humble Hill. Photo from Mike McNeil]
This race definitely brings the trail running community alive in PA. From camping out beforehand, to just chatting with some really cool and hearty people, the trail running scene brought on by the Hyner View Challenge and the RD showcases some of the best views and community PA has to offer.
Next up on the list for the Triple Crown is Worlds End 100k!
1st photo is credit to Momentum Photography
Photo of myself and the Public Land Owner climbing is courtesy of David Potts
Last photo is from Mike McNeil