Sunday, July 1, 2012

"The night time is the right time, Conestoga Run"

"It's easier to go down a hill than up it but the view is much better at the top." 
-Henry Ward Beecher 

Running the Conestoga Trail at NIGHT!!

If you have not run the Conestoga trail you have not experienced what Pennsylvania trails have to offer. Lots of hills, rocks, roots, numerous creek crossings, unsteady and slippery get the picture. It is part of the Susquehanna Superhike and the Conestoga 10mile run. The superhike course runs the "easier" direction and the Conestoga 10miler runs the more difficult direction. Make no mistake...neither direction is easy by anyones standards.

So Gary Bowman decided that he wanted to hold a group run on the section from Pequea to Holtwood. This is the direction of the Conestoga race. The more difficult direction...of course! And how about we do it at night to make it more FUN! It would be point to point and we could car pool to the start at dusk. Sounds like a whole lot of dumb fun. So much so that 35 people agreed to do it! A few other crazies decided that one direction was not enough and would rather be punished with the whole out and husband was one of them.

I worked Friday night so I came home Saturday morning and slept some. Got up and had a pre game stick to your ribs bowl of mixed grains with peanut butter and honey! I have been finding that I run longer distances with a belly full of grains and fat...lasts me for hours.
Then we headed down to Holtwood Park for Rik to meet up with the few others for the out and back. As if that isnt good enough, as we are crossing Holtwood Dam bridge, we see Jesse running across from the York side for the meet up...tacking on umm, IDK, 10 more miles?!!
Anyhow, here are the crazies of the out & back club!
I think Jesse is catching a quick nap before some more miles ;-)
Leon, Steve, Rik, Scott, Jesse, John
They took off alittle before 6pm and that left me to wait for others to show up which actually happened way earlier then I expected which was nice. I got to meet & chat with some new people and even ones I havent seen for awhile. We eventually loaded 30ish people into 4 vehicles to head up to Pequea campground to the start of our run. I rode with Paul Davey in his snuggle van...VW van that had so many people in we were snuggling!
At somewhere around 9pm we met the crazy 6 and got ready for the run back to Holtwood. Here is everyone listening to Gary ramble on about...something ;-)
And we took off thru the campground and onto the trails. It was hard to get adjusted to running on the trail with my light in the dark. It probably took me about a mile or two until I adjusted. Adjusted to the light and running in the dark but I never really adjusted to my head lamp. I have never run so long with one...about an hour or so before this. And it kept sliding down all night. I even had it so tight trying to keep it in place that I now have a lump and bruise there today. Note to self: need a new head lamp with overhead strap for next night run. But anyhow we eventually came to a lollipop section and I decided instead of doing the lollipop that I would continue on the trail ahead to get some pictures. We got to the end of the trail to a road section to find Leon already there with his camera set up for some pics as well. Thats him sitting on the ground taking his pictures...
Here come the lights up the trail!
And there they go.....
We ran the little bit of road section and back onto the trail. At this point it people kind of broke into several groups. Our group was Rik, Leon and I. And thats about how it was for the remainder 3hrs of the run.

I dont know what I can say about the trail to give you a good idea other then to say that it went up, up, down, up, up. I thought the trail was so difficult because of the rocks...loose and otherwise more so then the hills. The hills were difficult for sure but you just hike those sections.

Oh, but let me tell you how AWESOME Gary is and how he knows how to put on a run...I mean being a 4th of July weekend and all. About 3 miles into our run we start hearing fireworks. Mega fireworks! We kept running and running. Eventually we could see them off into the distance between the trees. It was pretty cool. After a couple of the big ones you could hear people down at the river yelling and cheering.

We got to an area they call the wind tunnel! Mind you, it had been 95* during the day and was probably still in the high 80s and humid as we were running this early in our run. But at this area is a whole bunch of very large boulders with an area about a foot wide between the two biggest ones and somehow they are positioned just right to create a breeze that feels about 20* cooler. It felt just awesome and we spent way to much time chillin here.

We soon made it to an outlook but it was just after the fireworks had ended. But you could see the river and large boat club below. There was a group of teens hanging out that had been watching the fireworks. We asked and they said that the other groups were 5-10mins ahead of us. They were lucky enough to have been at the outlook during the fireworks and hung out for a bit. Had I known...I would have tried to move a little faster!!

We took off again down the trail and thats when the music started. Yep, they were having one heck of a party down at the river! That music had to have been blaring down there because for the next 1 1/2hrs we got to enjoy country music mixed with Brittney Spears, LMFAO-Sexy and I know it! among others. It was pretty cool how long we could hear that music. And cool how it would get quieter and then louder again as we wound back around the trail. Eventually it got quiet and thats when we could hear and feel the trains go by on the tracks below. Some of the faster people were at the tracks as one went by.

After you pass the tracks IT comes. If you dont know what IT is let me just say that I had been warned but never experienced IT....Pinnacle Hill! The crazy people around this area like to run what they call Pinnacle Hill repeats! This is a monster of a hill that does not stop! They train on it to practice for runs like Hyner and Laurel Highlands. I was quiet happy to do this hill just once and pleased that I only actually had to stop once on it! And that was only after I was deterred by the fact that I kept thinking I was almost at the top because Rik & Leon kept stopping to make sure I was okay and still coming. That gave me the fake sense that they were at the top!

But I made it and was rewarded with another amazing view of the river below...and some fresh spring water from the pump. We hung out and relaxed for a couple of minutes before heading out to finish up the last three miles. Yeah, you would think it would be cake after that point. But no, more rocks, water and hills!

By the time we made it back up to Holtwood park it was just after 1am and were welcomed with yelling and cheers as we ran across a grass field! I cant tell you how cool it was to have everyone there partying and cheering STILL at 1am! Im used to most people leaving or have left by the time I get done a race. Again we were rewarded. This time with some freakin' awesome food and beer! I think that after running for 4hrs just about anything tastes good. But I tell you what...runners...especially trail runners know their food. Know how to eat! And as Patty put it...everything was vegetarian except for well, the meat. She had made some kind of ravioli with a pesto sauce...YUM!  Lots of veg friends there. Thanks to Eric and the Reading crew for grilling up the food and basically being in charge of the post run fun!

The last of the runners came in at about 1:45am. Amazingly enough, Leon had lost his car key somewhere out on the trail and had just left after hitching a ride with someone...when Josh came running in with Gary proclaiming the they had found it! What are the chances of that! We hung out a bit longer, ate more food. We helped clean up and everyone started clearing out. It was after 3am by the time we got home! I cant remember the last time I was out until 3am that I wasnt working, lol!



  1. So glad I hung in for the return trip and got to spend so many miles with you and Rik. Way to keep the motor running and power through the 'Stogie like a champ. Can't wait 'til next time!

  2. This sounds like SO MUCH a "sounds like a brutal run" type of SO MUCH FUN!! :~)
    Hopefully, Kelly and I will be able to partake in the festivities next time.
    Happy Trails!!