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Running from Alaska!

The Sinnemahone 50K was held on October 19th in Emporium, PA. I picked this race as I was going to visit my mother in SE Ohio and looked for a run I could do that was within driving distance of her home. I flew into Pittsburgh and drove to Emporium and spent 5 days and 4 nights there. It is a wonderful mountain community in north central PA with hundreds of miles of trails intersecting through various state parks and wildlife refuges. Fall colors were a little past their peak but still beautiful. It had rained for several days before but the morning dawned chilly and foggy, but dry. Rain was supposed to return by 2pm that afternoon and my goal was to try and get in before it started raining again. Overall view of this trail from myself and all the other racers was that it was way harder than we thought it was going to be!! Craig, one of the race directors asked us afterwards if the trail was too hard. We all laughed and said NO! Yes, it was difficult and most of us thought we could do it at least an hour faster than we did, but overall the trail was beautiful, challenging and fun. A quick synopsis: First 2 miles were through the back part of town, onto the state highway and to the Buttonwood Motel where I stayed all 4 nights. (A super friendly little hometown motel with an adjoining restaurant. Friendly owners and a quiet end unit with a full kitchen). Then the fun began. The course gained 1000 feet in the 3rd mile and had most people walking. The trail (Wiley Trail) is a wide snow machine trail with some rolls at the beginning before the big climb to the top. From there the trail went along some dirt roads (Bauer Hollow Road and Steam Mill road) to the first Aid station. Volunteers were fabulous with great ultra food at the stations and lots of folks cheering for us. Turning onto some single track trail (Mowray/Chicago Springs Trail) for about 3 miles we turned onto Ridge Road until we get to the Pipeline Crossing and Aid Station 2. Ahhhh. The Pipeline. Up and down up and down up and down. These were some severe rolling hills. As you would come to the bottom of the rolls, the recent rains had turned the course into mud and water. I went through many of these on the downward sides, but quickly started climbing again to dryness. You realized that as you were rolling up and down you were also climbing another 500 feet to the highest point on the course (probably about another 1000 feet elevation total for that stretch). Coming off the Pipeline you hit Ridge Road again for a mile or so to the Park Hollow Trail and Aid station 3. Park Hollow Trail goes on for almost 4 miles. What was funny through here was that you had to run directly through a hunters camp where there were a half dozen hunters sitting around all pointing the way for you to run around the cabin to the other side and back onto the trail. Pennsylvania is littered with hundreds of hunting camps strewn throughout the mountains. They are mostly small cabins and the ones I saw were boarded up. Rock Run Trail is next (Aid station 4 is here) and is narrow and rocky. Lots of waterfalls, creek crossings, side hilling and boulders are along this part of the trail. It is slow going. The trail was often totally “lost” with acres of mountain laurel and you just had to hope that the trail was beneath you somewhere as you were looking ahead to painted patches on trees. At this point you are also running down into the valley and crossing the hollow’s creek several times. You are now on McNuff Run trail. A larger creek (one crossing had water up to my knees) and narrow trail over marshy land made a very interesting section. You are heading back to Steam Mill Road and Bauer Hollow Road where Aid Station 6 is located. By now you are back to known territory after climbing out of the hollow and then have the 1000 foot decent down the Wiley Trail and back to the finish line. All in all the trail had around 4700 feet of elevation gain and loss. My garmin quit at mile 30 (the trail was long at around 33 miles…). I didn’t expect to be out there for 8:01 and knew my garmin was good for around 7.5 hours. I was happy with my “run” although for me it was more of an adventure hike/run/slog. 3rd woman overall, 10th out of 24 finishers. Only woman over 50. I do send out a huge thank you to the first 2 woman who I ran with for a short time (after the 3 of us lost 10 minutes figuring out if we were on the right trail……the only place that there was any confusion because the trail was VERY well marked). At about mile 18 I tripped and fell hard which threw both of my legs into severe cramping. They pulled me off the ground and dealt with my screams as they gathered up the gels and bars that went flying out of my vest. (so thanks Deb and Nicole). Map Starting up. About mile 3. Climbing the first big climb. Wiley Trail. One of the views from high up. Finding the way through the mountain laurel. Trail Rolling pipeline. Creeks. This was a small crossing. Nicole (2nd) Deb (1st although she and Nicole ran the whole thing together and were 1 second apart at the finish) me (3rd and 8 minutes behind the woman leaders) We ended up 8th 9th and 10th overall! A huge thank you to all the race organizers, especially Craig and Tina who I talked with at length before the race. The volunteers were great, the overall enthusiasm of the whole town for the first edition of this race and the great welcome of a gal from Alaska will have me smiling every time I think of my adventure. Thanks Emporium. I hope to be back some year!

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