When you first arrive at the Old Turnpike, the cracked pavement covered in graffiti may look more like a filmmaker’s depiction of the end of the world than a road of the past. The area is so dramatic that scenes from a post-apocalyptic movie were filmed at this very location. The 13-mile section of road commonly known as the “Abandoned Turnpike” has not been used as a highway since 1968. For such a small slice of road, it has a rich and dramatic history. On May 22nd, you can experience this destination by participating in the Old Turnpike Half Marathon!
1. The Tunnels…4 Miles of Darkness
When you race The Old Turnpike Half Marathon, you run through 2 tunnels: Ray’s Hill tunnel (3,532 ft.) and Sideling Hill tunnel (6,782 ft). These are 2 of the Top 5 longest bike trail tunnels in the United States. Since the course is an out and back, this means you are in a tunnel for a total of 3.907 miles. To put that in perspective, if Kibiwott Kandie, the world record holder in the half marathon were racing this course, he would spend 17 minutes and 36 seconds running in darkness (about 30% of his race). This means that, unless you plan on running close to a world record, you will probably spend well over 20 minutes of your race in a tunnel! Where else can you experience that?
2. Run on America’s First Superhighway
Construction of the Sideling Hill Tunnel began back in 1881 as part of the South Pennsylvania Railroad but was abandoned when costs became too high. The project was picked up in 1938 by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the PA Turnpike opened to the public in 1940. After years of being a wildly popular highway, traffic at the tunnels caused the closing of a 13 mile stretch and the Turnpike was rerouted around the mountains. Now, this section of road is open to runners and bikers, allowing you the chance to run on what was once a major highway.
3. Race on a Hollywood Set
When you first set foot on the course, you will immediately understand why this location was chosen to film the post-apocalyptic film, “The Road”, starring Viggo Mortensen. The road with grass growing through cracks and unfilled potholes makes the 50 years of neglect seem like it could have been 100. The tunnels are completely dark in the middle, covered in graffiti, and you can hear the echo of your footsteps. This truly unique location is a must visit destination for any runner or outdoor enthusiast.
You can get a glimpse of the race course by watching this video. To sign up or for more information on the Old Turnpike Half Marathon, visit our race page. If you would like to learn about our other destination races, check out our Destination Half Marathons page! We hope to see you on race day. Happy running!