Life has been very busy after the race(dance recital, vacation and me being lazy:-0) and I finally got to finish my race report. First off I want to thank my wife, children and family for supporting me the last 7 years through this running journey. This sport takes a lot of time and patience from everyone and my family is  always there for me.  I also want to say “thank you” to my Pagoda Pacer family (too many to name individually) for passing on their knowledge of this sport and for helping me get this far. Getting better in this sport comes from listening to a lot of things people said over the years and blending them into my own running. Thanks again to Beth Witkowski for helping crew with my wife through the good and the bad – you both are a great support crewing team! Thanks again to my Pacer David Lister for the last 2 years pacing me – a lot of good times out there and many more to come. Last I would like to thank race director Kevin Sayers, the VHTRC and all the volunteers for hosting a great event. Now to the long and hopefully not too boring race report;-)
Leading up to the race:
The summer and fall of 2012 I was racing a lot more than I ever did. I would race on a Saturday or Sunday and would be sore after the race for a couple of days more than I normally would. Wednesday or Thursday would come around and I would feel good and hammer 7 or 8 miles feeling great and ready to race the weekend. At the Oley 10 mile race on November 4th I had a great race finishing in 1:00:49. After the race I tried to do a cool down run and had to limp the whole 2 miles. I should have known that after how hard I was pushing at all the races, something was bound to happen. I thought it was a strain so I just started hiking more. (In the last couple of years when November/December comes around I usually do a lot of hiking). I could hike for 10 to 12 miles and push as hard as I could – usually averaging a 13 ½ to 14 ½ min. pace with no pain. As soon as I would try to run, then I had pain – very frustrating! After pushing the pain off long enough, I finally talked to some trail running friends about it (Gary Long and Jesse Johnson) who had similar problems and ended up having surgery.  They suggested that I go get checked for a hernia and I am glad I did (thanks to my wife for finally taking the step to make the appointment). My appointment was on December 24th, 2012 and the doctor said right away “Yep you got an inguinal hernia, we will do surgery and you should be ready for your 100 mile race in May”. “Your surgery will be February 5th” said his medical assistant. ‘”Can it be sooner???” I said – all I was thinking about was my scheduled races(Hat Run 50k, Bull Run Run 50 and MMT100). Well, the earliest they had was February 5th, that was the best they could do. Once I knew what the issue was, I felt more relaxed and I wound up pushing my way through 5 weeks of slow running 60+ miles a week up until my surgery. I knew I had to continue to train if I wanted to run the longer races that were quickly approaching.February 5th arrives and I am a little nervous. I was ready to get it over with and move on. The surgery went well.  Immediately after surgery, I slowly start to move more and more. My father-in-law told me the best thing to do is keep moving after surgery and the faster you will recover. So I did just that. I started walking laps inside my house as soon as I got home. One lap might be 30 feet and that would take a lot of energy. I would sit down and then try again in a couple of minutes. Day 1 after surgery I did 1 mile. Day 2 – 2 miles. Day 3 – 3 miles. Day 6 – 4 miles on snow/ice. After that I thought I was pushing it too much so I didn’t do anything except a couple of laps around the inside of my house for the next four days. Then day 12 I hit 11.65 miles walking/running and I had no pain. On day 26, I went to the Horseshoe Elevation Fest 50k Fatass and ran 18 miles – and yes I wanted to do more but I thought I better stop. Day 46 Hat Run 50k race was my first real big push at anything since my surgery. My plan was to push until I had pain which thankfully never happened and I set a new PR of 4:14:41 finishing in 6th place. Day 67 Bull Run Run 50 mile race, no pain yet and set another PR of 6:39:07 finishing in 2nd place. Day 102 arrives – MMT 103.7 Race Day:
Before race
The start

My crew consisting of my wife Karen and fellow Pagoda Pacer Beth Witkowski woke up for the race around 2 a.m. and I woke up around 2:30 a.m. and laid their until around 2:45 a.m. I got dressed, checked all my gear and left the hotel. It’s maybe a 20 min. drive to the race start from the hotel. The day is finally here after entering the race on December 1st.  The ride there is quiet with little talking and lots of thoughts going through my head like does everything feel good, did I train enough, did I eat enough for breakfast today (I ate 1 banana/almond butter in the car and a gel right at the start).  I checked in, went to the bath room, said “hi” to couple of friends, gave Jason Lantz (last year’s winner/friend) a hand shake and  5,4,3,2,1 and we are off!  Up the road hill we go! I didn’t turn my head lamp on right away because there was enough light from all the other head lamps.  At the top of the road hill we hit the trail. Click on my light and find myself in the lead in the next couple of miles for awhile. WTF! This feels fast but if you don’t go you don’t know, right?  After a while of being in the lead, I take a quick bathroom break and a bunch of runners went by me. Now I am back to where I usually am – chasing. Not sure what place I am in but that is fine with me, it’s about running my own race.

Once you hit the road going into the Edinburg Gap aid station mile 12.1 it feels like a 5k race running down the hill to my crew. I give them my two empty bottles and they give me two full ones and hand me my food. Off I go back into the woods. In no time Jason Lantz flies by me disappearing in the woods. Within a half mile or so I realized I forgot to give my crew my headlamp. Oh well, no big deal so I take it off and put it in my pack. The next section had a lot of running and no hills for me to power hike on from what I remember. I can feel a start of a blister on my right foot. It seemed like every time my foot landed on an angled rock I could feel the threads on my sock pushing on the bottom of my foot.
Woodstock Tower mile 20.3 aid station is here in no time. My pacer David Lister(Glacier Ridge 50M winner) and his girl friend Ashley Moyer(North Face Endurance Challenge – Bear Mountain 50M winner) were volunteering at the aid station. It was great to see their happy faces when arriving. I had one bottle filled with water, gave my head lamp to David and left the aid station.  I was still trying to land on rocks that are flat and not angled so my right foot doesn’t get any worse.
Powells Fort mile 25.8 station arrives and I still feel pretty good. Joking with the aid station people and then they said you’re in a better mood then the guys that just left here. Hmmm…. I was thinking that the runners in front must be pushing really hard. I said “thanks” and I was off running on a dirt road for awhile before the next climb. After climbing and starting to descend to the next aid station I pass Denis Mikhaylov walking down the hill. He was having a bad patch but went on to finish 2nd place. His fuel for the race was something like 80 to 90 freshly squeezed oranges with gels mixed in. Click here for his race report.
Elizabeth Furnace – Mile 33.3 aid station

Right before Elizabeth Furnace mile 33.3 aid station there is a big hill to run down and I could hear some people cheering the runners in front of me. When I go to my crew I let them know I needed to change my socks, clean my feet and apply more foot lube. My crew was right on top of things and helped me quickly change socks. While sitting there I saw Jason leave the aid station. Jason was running the sole division which means he had no crew or pacer the entire race. Back out on the trail I went for the next section. My crew knowing my focus, was kind enough to just let me run my race and did not tell me what place I was in when I saw them.  Later I found out that I left this aid station in 3rd place.

Photographer – Tim Toogood


I don’t recall too much about the next section other than a good climb and a good downhill to the next aid station Shawl Gap mile 38 aid station. My crew gave me a full bottle and I head out on the 3.1 mile hard pack dirt/rock road section. Going from soft trail to hard pack dirt/rock always makes the legs hurt a little more. Being only a 5k on the road, the pain will only last so long. Before I left they said 2 guys just left a couple minutes before you came in.  I tried to move my legs on this section which felt pretty fast. I came around the turn to head up into the Veach Gap Parking 41.1 mile aid station and see Jason Lantz and Patrick McGlade leaving the aid station to start the next 9 mile section. The aid station people start to cheer and clap for me and I motion to them with a finger on my lips: SSHHHHHHHH! so Jason and Patrick didn’t know I was there. I was just joking with them trying to have some fun. I drink some water and cola get my bottles filled and head out. I can see up ahead that Jason and Patrick are pushing the running and power hiking up the hills. I slowly gain on them. Up the next big climb we are all power hiking. I go around Patrick and slowly catch up to Jason. At the top Jason and I switch places back and forth for a couple of miles having some conversation. At one point I remember Jason saying if you want to go ahead on the downhill because you are running them a little faster at this point. Eventually I did and I never saw another runner the rest of the race.
Jason Lantz pushing the climb with me following
Mile 43 – Veach Gap
Photographer – Aaron Schwartzbard

Indian Grave Trailhead mile 50.1 aid station I get my bottle filled with water, drink some cola and pushed the next section as much as I could. It’s another hard pack dirt/rock 3.9 miles. Looking back at my split I ran a 7:41 pace for that section.

At Habron Gap Parking aid station mile 54 I see my crew, pacer and I am feeling good. I can’t pick up my pacer until mile 63.9 the next aid station but just seeing everyone there really got me in a good mood for the next climb out of Habron Gap aid station. This is the section that put the nail in the coffin in 2011 for me when I had a DNF(did not finish). 2012 I had the fastest time of 2:06 on this section which felt great after running a 3:12 in 2011. This year I ran a 1:59. I think it had something to do with picking up a horseshoe that I found out on the trail. I saw fresh horse sh** out there so I knew I would see some horses soon. I think I ran 2 to 3 miles carrying that horseshoe. When I finally caught up to them I slowly handed it to the rider. I told him I hope my luck doesn’t change now. He laughed and I went on my way. Running into Camp Roosevelt aid station mile 63.9 I could pick up my pacer and he was ready to run. I remember my crew asking me if I needed anything and I said “I need my David!”  That is me trying to be funny and keep the crew happy.  I got something to drink and we headed out. This section was hit with a fire that went along the right side of the trail but not the left.
My crew Karen and Beth with fellow Pagoda Pacer Rick Moyer

The downhill to Gap Creek/Jawbone 1 aid station mile 69.6 is very rocky. My legs were still feeling strong and I moved down the rocks fast.  This is the aid station I dropped at in 2011 so I try to get out of there as quick as possible once reaching it;-) I try to run as much of the next section I can until the big climb then the power hiking starts. Once I hit the top of the mountain there are 2 red plates.  One with an arrow pointing left on the first time up and one pointing straight the second time up. After running single track on this section it turns to a downhill dirt road and then asphalt. Running for a little on the dirt road we see a truck driving towards us making a lot of dust.  It was the race director Kevin Sayers and volunteer Greg Zaruba.  We waved, smiled and kept running.

David Lister(pacer) and me
Photographer – Bobby Gill


Refueling at the Visitor Center – Mile 78.1 aid station

I heard some cheering coming in to the Visitor Center mile 78.1 aid station. This aid station is run by the TrailDawgs and saw a lot of familiar faces Angus, Pete, Gerard and others. It was another boast for me and, yes my crew! I sat down to get something to drink and off we go up a steep climb and then some flat running to the Bird Knob mile 81.6 aid station.  Arriving here the volunteers were just starting to set up the aid station. All I needed was some water and cola. It’s a long downhill road once you leave the aid station and you can make some good time if your legs are up for it on this section and mine were. After the road section starts some more single track and I sat down on a rock to take another gel and an S-Cap(one of many gels and S-Caps throughout the race). I keep pushing forward and we arrive at the Picnic Area mile 87.9 aid station. I sit down drink some cola, my crew gives me my food and water bottles and I push on.  I told Dave my pacer a couple of times throughout the race, for some reason, sorry for not talking that much this year. I guess I was concentrating more and just didn’t have the energy to talk. Eventually the single track on this section turns into dirt road section. Only running for a little while on the dirt road, it is dark now and we have headlamps on when we see some kind of foot prints on the road from an animal being wet and going from one side of the road to the other.  David thought it might be a coyote. I thought it was a bear. Instead out jumped a dog in the middle of know where! We said Hello and went on running. We arrived at Gap Creek/Jawbone II aid station mile 96.8 and my watch read 9:22PM. My split from last year for the final section was 1 hour 28 minutes. I knew if I ran the same time I did last year I could finish in a high 18 something if everything went good. I came into this aid station, threw off my back pack and took a handheld. Still feeling good knowing it the last section, I push the last major climb of the day.  I see the red plate at the top of the mountain for the 2nd time which means I go straight down. I focus really hard going through this very rocky section until I hit the road. I hit the road at 10 pm exactly. From hear it is downhill for around 3 miles. This was another hard pack dirt/rock road section until it turns to asphalt and that is when my blister broke.  As soon as the surface changed I felt a burning sensation on the bottom of my right foot. It wasn’t that far to the finish after that. I had one more little climb up a dirt road, a little single track, over a bridge and around the field to the finish. I cross the finish line in 18 hours 30 minutes and 53 seconds for first place with a section time of 1 hour 9 minutes. WOW what a day!

Coming across the finish line!
Photographer – Bobby Gill


David Lister(pacer) and me
Photographer – Tim Toogood

After finishing I sit down and talk to a few people at the finish, eat something and then head to the showers. After cleaning up and changing I come back to the finish line. I try to lie down to get some sleep but my legs were uncomfortable in any position – so I decided to stay awake the rest of the day – for the entire 36 hour race. I was able to cheer for many of the other runners finishing the race along with my fellow Pagoda Pacers. There was some great conversation and I was able to meet some really nice people. My crew and I stayed for the awards and headed home around 5 p.m. Sunday night. We made it home well after 8 p.m.I am hoping that I remain healthy throughout the year and plan on returning to this trail next year to race again! See ya out on the trail!!!!

These are all things that helped me get to the finish and to receive this awesome award!
Hoka One One – Stinson Evo Trail Shoes
Pagoda Pacers Athletic 
SUCCEED! Electrolyte Caps(S-Caps) 

Link to the Reading Eagle article about my race:


Race Website:

Finish Time:  18:30:53

Overall Place:  1

Gender Place:  1

Age Group Place:  1

GPS Activity: 

Contributor's Personal Blog: 

I am an ultra runner from Pennsylvania since 2006. My first ultra was the Blues Cruise 50k in…