Mid-State Airport, Philipsburg, PA
July 25, 2015

By Mike Casper

Temperatures in central Pennsylvania’s Moshannon State Forest eased into the upper fifties as runners lined up at Mid-State Regional Airport for the fourth annual Allegheny Front Trail Run 20K and 50K. This year’s race featured a totally new 50K course on the legendary AFT. The new route takes in more technical and remote miles of the northwestern AFT. This route pre-measured to a smidge more than 32 miles.

Seneca 50K

Clayton Bouchard, of Lykens, ambled along the well-shaded course to victory, finishing in 5:17:05, four minutes ahead of State College’s Gary Twoey. State College’s Michael Renz took third. Though he decided only the night before to turn up, Bouchard was ready, having won other ultras as well as winning the York Marathon with a PR in May.

The rainy spring and summer leading up to race day had raised water levels and created some seriously muddy spots.

“The first few miles of muck was a total surprise to me,” said Bouchard. “The RD announced that passing the first few miles would be very hard, so I got up in the front right away to be able to keep an eye on the leaders. About 2 miles in, a gap developed, so I passed to get into third and caught up with front two guys.” Itching to push his pace, Bouchard then moved into the lead. “I was feeling great at mile 6 and the trail felt too easy, so I pushed my pace more. That was a mistake. By mile 13 the course changed up from super fast to short rollers with twists and turns every few steps. It really started to wear me down. Around mile 27 I started to crack and I was looking over my shoulder to the finish line.”

The route’s running water buoyed Bouchard, though the mud added a challenge near the end. “I really liked running beside all the streams. I stopped and cooled off a lot. The last few miles brought more muck, and I caught a root in it and went down hard on a log, and my right leg went into a cramp. I hobbled a few minutes until it loosened up.”

Johanna Ohm, of State College, was ninth overall and completed the women’s race in 6:04:52, followed by Cheyenne Albert and Larie Hall, both of Morrisdale.

“I ran my own race and listened to my body,” recalled Ohm. "I even had time to listen to the sound of the streams and nature, instead of thinking too much about who was ahead or behind, or pushing too hard to keep in a certain position too early. I felt strong the whole race, surged on the little high that comes with knowing you finished the last major uphill around mile 22, and only really felt my legs getting fatigued around mile 30 when there was some mud-trudging to get to the finish line. The last mile I was clenching my feet to keep the shoes on.”

Ohm is keen to the perils of pacing and the benefits of surging. “I have a habit of always going out slightly faster than I plan to, but I think it's good to flush out some early adrenaline before settling into a steady pace. I ran in sight of some runners I knew would run competitive times, but I didn't get too hard on myself or too confident if they jumped ahead or fell behind. I surged on the uphills and around turns because those are the moments that I can make up the most meaningful ground—either by getting out of sight from someone behind me or catching someone who's fatiguing on the up.”

Both Bouchard and Ohm gave the course a thumbs-up. “It kinda throws everything at you,” said Bouchard, “and lets you experience all that is trail running. The muck was something new to me and I’m happy I got to experience it.” Ohm relished the race’s landscape and challenges. “Climbing the single track path with ferns on the last uphill section was sweet. The sun comes through in speckles from the taller trees and you know that after that last little climb, you can cruise on some downhill. I really enjoyed the new course. It was nice to see lots of single track trails and very little road sections. It was slow mud at the beginning so I was relieved to get into the more rocky and hard dirt sections that came around mile 4. Pennsylvania has some beautiful country to see!”

Proceeds from this race support Crosswinds at Mid-State Airport, a volunteer group dedicated to promoting general aviation and encouraging recreation on area trails, and the Keystone Trails Association.

Hemlock 20K

Daniel Wilcko, of Erie, with John Bird and Craig Eaton, of State College, flew in onto the AFTR’s backyard tarmac and got free entry, a perk offered for the first five fly-in participants.

Wilcko’s combination of speed and stamina gave him an edge, as he won by over four minutes. His recent PRs of 4:38 for 1600 meters and 16:34 for 5K show the speed, and his romp at this race demonstrates staying power.

“The race wasn't too difficult at the beginning,” recalled Wilcko, “and I let some of the other runners lead off the starting line of the race. After maybe a mile or so I took the lead and kept it for the remainder of the race.”

What about this distinctly new race distance? “I had never run a 20K before this race, so I was just going out at a comfortable pace, but once I realized that I had potential to be near the top I pushed a little out of my comfort zone. The AFTR 20K was one of the best rushes I have got during a race. The end was tough but I still felt really fantastic. It was a mildly technical trail but I love that kind of trail. Plenty of water jumps, which was a new experience to me but I have to say that I really enjoyed it overall.”

Sayard Tanis, of Dauphin, has run a few other area races, including the Eager Seeger Half Marathon in nearby Rothrock State Forest. She scored the women’s win.

“The Allegheny Front Trail Run 20K was a fun and well organized race,” said Tanis. “It was highly recommended by some of my trail running friends, so I was excited to make it out for the event.

“As we headed out onto the course I tried to get a feel for the competition and what pace the leaders were going to set,” Tanis recalled. “At that point, Racer X pushed the pace with me on the pavement, as he knows that road is not my forte. That gave me a good jolt to get started. As we entered the trail, I tried to settle in with the leaders. I don't wear a GPS to monitor a certain pace. I intended to give a hard effort based on the competition, course, and what my body had to offer that day. I didn't know what to expect with the climbs and descents of the course, so I just decided to push hard with the leaders as long as possible. Cruising the winding single track was awesome! The woods were beautiful and there was a perfect mist that made it feel like I was adventuring through an enchanted forest. I was having fun hammering along with the lead males, and it was a fun mix of uphills, downhills, and twisting turning single track. I was having a blast. The gravel-packed road was probably the hardest portion for me to stay focused and continue to maintain pace. However, the 3rd place male was right with me, so that spurred me on. We could see the 2nd place male ahead of us, so that encouraged me to continue to try to hunt him down. I struggled for a bit after I rolled my ankle on a rock on the single track, but I was determined to press on and not slack off. The final stretch with grass, gravel road, and pavement was a chance to push hard and try to catch the 2nd place male while holding off the 3rd place male from catching me. I have fun with those challenges.”

Proceeds from this race support Crosswinds at Mid-State Airport, a volunteer group dedicated to promoting general aviation and outdoor recreation, the Keystone Trails Association, and the Nittany Valley Running Club.

*Muck – runner slang for the excessive slurpy mud experienced on the “bog” trails surrounding Black Moshannon Lake. The area has a shallow groundwater table and had an unusual rainy June and July. These freshwater wetlands have lots of sphagnum moss and other plants which give off tannins, producing the black color to the water—and to the mud! The unique Black Moshannon Bog Natural Area was designated as such in 1994 to give special protection to this bog ecosystem in the Allegheny Plateau.

pix aftr 15 flyinsCraig Eaton (L) and Daniel Wilcko (R) flew in for the race.

pix aftr 15 50kstart

 Start of the 50K Seneca Run

pix aftr 15 20kwinnerm

 Daniel Wilcko won the men's 20K Hemlock Run

pix aftr 15 20kwinnerf

 Sayard Tanis won the women's 20K

pix aftr 15 50kwinnerm

 Clayton Bouchard was the Men's 50K winner

pix aftr 15 crossing

 Ruth Watson crosses a stream during the 50K

50K Seneca Run

  Place   First Name    Last Name     Age     Sex     Town               Time
  —————   ——————————    —————————     ———     ———     ————               ————
     1    Clayton       Bouchard       42       M     Lykens            5:17:05
     2    Gary          Twoey          45       M     State College     5:21:10
     3    Michael       Renz           39       M     Port Matilda      5:31:09
     4    Jim           Wenger         45       M     Beavertown        5:32:16
     5    Damien        Teney          28       M     Pittsburgh        5:41:47
     6    William       Huber          30       M     Zelienople        5:42:00
     7    Caleb         Carr           31       M     Rosedale, NY      5:52:38
     8    Charlie       Vasey          34       M     State College     5:55:02
     9    Johanna       Ohm            24       F     State College     6:04:52
    10    Cheyenneq     Albert         25       F     Morrisdale        6:17:08
    11    George        Conrad         38       M     Huntingdon        6:35:46
    12    Larie         Hall           46       F     Morrisdale        6:50:57
    13    Michelle      Rumley         40       F     Whitehall         7:00:07
    14    Alexandria    Housel         34       F     Port Matilda      7:12:08
    15    Jordan        Kline          22       M     Osceola Mills     7:27:57
    16    Jim           Stavely        57       M     West Chester      7:35:16
    17    Kevin         Hummel         40       M     DuBois            7:36:00
    18    Aric          Sponsler       38       M     State College     7:38:24
    19    Todd          Lewis          40       M     Altoona           7:44:20
    20    Kevin         Condon         29       M     Morrisdale        7:44:57
    21    Becky         Green-Dixon    46       F     Port Matilda      8:01:15
    22    Josh          Carr           33       M     Morrisdale        8:04:46
    23    Kathryn       Koetje-Simin   44       F     State College     8:17:58
    24    Daniel        McCaslin       43       M     Julian            8:18:14
    25    Meri          Collins        35       F     Dubois            8:27:02
    26    Sarah         Hummel         37       F     DuBois            8:27:19
    27    John          Weaver Jr.     40       M     Altoona           8:32:58
    28    David         Hale           53       M     Columbia, SC      9:26:01
    29    Ruth          Watson         47       F     Annville          9:48:16

20K Hemlock Run

  Place    First Name  Last Name       Age      Sex    Town              Time
  —————    ——————————  —————————       ———      ———    ————              ————
     1     Daniel      Wilcko           18       M     Erie             1:32:03
     2     Craig       Eaton            26       M     State College    1:37:15
     3     Sayard      Tanis            33       F     Dauphin          1:37:20
     4     Travis      Kagarise         35       M     Williamsburg     1:37:37
     5     Mark        Fisher           28       M     Mifflin          1:46:21
     6     Brianna     Bair             36       F     State College    1:50:35
     7     Llew        Williams         57       M     Sinking Spring   1:51:05
     8     Lawrence    Metzger          31       M     Mill Hall        1:51:28
     9     Hayley      Weyhe            40       F     State College    1:52:18
    10     Mike        Fabian           54       M     Murrysville      1:52:22
    11     Scott       Matson           41       M     Philipsburg      1:53:04
    12     Craig       Fink             38       M     Philipsburg      1:54:04
    13     Racer       X                47       M     Bellefonte       1:54:06
    14     Vincent     Corso            35       M     Port Matilda     1:56:39
    15     Julia       Warren           24       F     State College    1:57:02
    16     Tyler       Kanagy           25       M     Mill Hall        1:57:16
    17     Geoff       Kingsley         50       M     Spring Mills     1:57:21
    18     Bob         Jacobs           55       M     Port Matilda     1:57:45
    19     John        Fegyveresi       38       M     State College    1:57:54
    21     Ed          Simoncek         49       M     Howard           1:58:17
    20     Deb         Simoncek         47       F     Howard           1:58:17
    22     Todd        Musser           46       M     Petersburg       1:58:43
    23     Joshua      Ferguson         27       M     Baltimore, MD    2:02:16
    24     Jim         Moore            54       M     State College    2:03:51
    25     Travis      Dixon            36       M     West Decatur     2:03:55
    26     Jason       Yablonski        34       M     Port Matilda     2:03:56
    27     Fredrick    Ferguson         41       M     Osceola Mills    2:05:05
    28     Cynthia     Sanchas          60       F     South Park       2:06:50
    29     Mick        Quen             37       M     Franklin         2:07:07
    30     Jeffry      Schiesler        59       M     Port Matilda     2:08:42
    31     John        Bird             27       M     State College    2:10:23
    32     Dennis      Kennedy          60       M     Hampstead, MD    2:10:45
    33     David       Kinkeade         44       M     Catonsville, MD  2:11:13
    34     Rebecca     Whitesell        53       F     Bellefonte       2:12:15
    35     Sue         Reese            55       F     Bellefonte       2:12:34
    36     Robert      Caris            55       M     Mill Hall        2:13:09
    37     Ken         Hoover           44       M     Altoona          2:15:05
    38     John        Quick            46       M     Fleming          2:15:50
    39     Brian       Brown            40       M     Lewisburg        2:17:05
    40     Carrie      Kephart          44       F     Philipsburg      2:17:18
    41     Craig       Clark            58       M     Punxsutawney     2:18:35
    42     Dane        Clark            31       M     Anita            2:18:35
    43     John        McGlynn Jr       48       M     Camp Hill        2:18:54
    44     Karen       Miller           50       F     Port Matilda     2:19:05
    45     Tara        Bechdel          30       F     Howard           2:19:19
    46     Hayden      Bock             18       M     Morrisdale       2:21:05
    47     Ted         Reffner          47       M     Mineral Point    2:23:35
    48     Matt        Zieger           35       M     Pittsburgh       2:28:37
    50     Amy         Dietz            51       F     Port Matilda     2:30:46
    49     Kevin       Dietz            52       M     Port Matilda     2:30:46
    51     Melissa     Quick            48       F     Fleming          2:31:30
    52     Jeff        Quick            43       M     Westfield        2:31:30
    53     Rebecca     Spangler         32       F     Port Matilda     2:31:32
    54     Terry       McCaslin                  M     Julian           2:32:45
    55     Alan        McMenamin        34       M     Conshohocken     2:35:33
    56     Rob         Shirk            53       M     Altoona          2:42:42
    57     Joshua      Lewis            28       M     Johnstown        2:43:30
    58     Erin        Swatsworth       34       F     Ashland          2:52:10
    59     Carolyn     Gardner          39       F     State College    2:55:17
    60     Melissa     Timko            37       F     Philipsburg      3:08:58
    61     Edward      O'Rourke         21       M     Pennington, NJ   3:29:58
    62     Jason       Winters          40       M     Columbus, GA     3:30:44
    63     Lisa        Salaymal-Stroh   34       F     Altoona          3:36:18
    64     Teresa      Miller           37       F     Duncansville     3:36:18
    65     Amy         Young Seeley     39       F     Hollidaysburg    3:36:19
    66     Phillip A   Hesser           64       M     Crocheron, MD    3:43:15
    67     Ashley      Adams            29       F     West Decatur     3:43:16
    68     Jodie       Potter           39       F     Philipsburg      3:43:17
    69     Jane        Wilkens          59       F     Titusville       3:44:37
    70     Emily       Clark            25       F     Anita            3:47:28
    71     Ronda       Clark            57       F     Punxsutawney     3:47:29