Park of the Week: Hickory Run State Park

 

About two weeks ago, I went on a camping trip with some friends at Hickory Run State Park, located on the Eastern side of Pennsylvania near the town of White Haven. We stayed in the group tenting area, which was about 2 miles from the park office.

On the first day, after we got the campsite set up, we ran the main road through the park (State Road 534) down to park office and back. The run was all downhill on the way to the park office, but the way back was over 500 feet elevation in 2 miles. It was a nice, scenic road with trees surrounding it and numerous trail offshoots on each side. We went on another run later in the evening around some of the gravel roads through the other campgrounds and a short portion on a trail. 

On Saturday, we decided to make the 15 minute drive to the neighboring Lehigh Gorge State Park. Once there, we started our run to the Lehigh Gorge Trail. But on the way to the trail-head, we encountered a cave, which we had to go check out. After walking through the cave, we made our way back to the road and onto the Lehigh Gorge Trail. 

We ran 8 miles on the Lehigh Gorge Trail (4 out & 4 back). On the way out, there was a very slight uphill grade. The trail itself was in fantastic shape. It was a firm, fast surface that consisted of compact gravel. The trail had really good footing and was devoid of any potholes or divots. On the one side of the trail were views of the Lehigh Valley River, while on the other side were views of the rocky, mountainous terrain and a beautiful waterfall. The trail had mile markers and benches along the way. There were some offshoot paths that travel deeper into the woods, if you’re looking for a dirt trail. 

After the run, we went to a nearby stream with rushing water to take a natural ice bath. Shortly after the ice bath, we returned back to campsite and grilled some burgers. After lunch, we headed to the beach at Sand Spring Lake. The beach was quite large for a state park, but the sand was a bit rocky. Before playing some volleyball on the beach, we decided to play some disc golf. I’m not a huge disc golf fan, but this disc golf course was the best one I’ve ever played on. The course traveled through the forest, but was kept in such good shape that it would be almost impossible to lose a disc. It also had some unique features like a stonewall guarding one of the holes. 

Later in the evening, we hiked the Fireline Trail in Hickory Run State Park to the Lehigh Valley Gorge Overlook. Once at the end of the trail, we took in sweeping views of the valley and surrounding mountains. This was my favorite part of the park. 

On Sunday morning, we “ran” The Shades of Death Trail. This trail is very appropriately named. “Ran” is in quotations because we attempted to run it, but it was not really possible since some portions of the trail were so challenging and technical. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful trail that was very fun to explore.

After experiencing the Shades of Death, we checked out the Boulder Field, which is one of the main attractions in the park as it is a national landmark. The road on the way to the Boulder Field was a nice compact dirt road that would have been really great to run, but we didn’t get the chance. The Boulder Field was incredible because it is all natural. I’ve never seen anything like it.  

Hickory Run State Park provides diverse running options. It has paved, dirt, and gravel roads. It has hilly and flat terrain. It has easy and highly technical trails. This park really has everything a runner could want. I highly recommend it not only for adventurous runners, but for people just looking for a weekend in the great outdoors. 

Here’s some additional photos from the trip:

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WCTC runs in Presque Isle Half Marathon

pi 2Three Wolf Creek Track Club runners participated in the 2016 ERC Presque Isle Half Marathon this morning in Erie, Pa. The race was supposed to start at 6:45am, but after some delays it ended up starting around 7:05am. The weather for this year’s race was much better than last year’s event. It was 62 degrees and sunny at the start of the race. The course was a flat, 13.1 loop around Presque Isle State Park. There were 1,600 total registered participants, however only 1,359 finished the race.

Colton Mack (age 26) of Pittsburgh, won the race in 1:11:10. The first female finisher was Gabrielle Kennelley (age 22) of Waterford, who ran 1:23:33. The standout performance of the day, however, came from 12 year old, Matthew Puleio of Meadville, who completed the course in 1:17:04 an average of 5:53 per mile. Puleio’s performance was record-breaking as he crushed the previous half marathon World Record for a 12 year old. He broke Wesley Paul’s record of 1:19:26, which stood since 1981.

Brandon Wise led the Wolf Creek Track Club, finishing 9th overall in a time of 1:19:21. He placed 2nd in his age group of 20-24. It was Brandon’s 3rd consecutive year of finishing in the top 10 overall at the event and his 4th consecutive year of earning an award in his age group.

Brandon was followed by Andrew Mascio and Ryan Budnik who finished 13th and 14th respectively. Andrew ran a 1:20:55.6, while Ryan ran a 1:20:56.5. Andrew placed 4th in his age group of 20-24, while Ryan placed 3rd in the age category of 1-19. Andrew improved upon his 22nd place finish in the event last year, while this was Ryan’s first time participating in the event.

Overall, it was a great day for the Wolf Creek Track Club with 3 runners placing in the top 15. Congratulations to Matthew Puleio on his world record setting performance.

Click here for full race results

Recap of USATF Olympic Trials

I traveled to Eugene, Oregon this past week for the United States Track & Field Olympic Trials.  The 10 day meet took place from July 1-10. As always this highly competitive meet was very chaotic and surprising with many big names failing to make the Olympic team and many newcomers making their first team. High school students Vashti Cunningham and Sydney McLaughlin are going to Rio while veterans Sanya Richards-Ross, Trey Hardee, and Aylsia Montano are not. 41 year old Bernard Lagat won the 5,000m with a 52.8 second final 400 just days after dropping out of the 10,000m. Brenda Martinez came back and made the 1500m team after missing the 800m team due to a crash in the last turn of the final.  Favorites like Galen Rupp, Aston Eaton, Jenny Simpson, Molly Huddle, Evan Jager, and Emma Coburn were all able to win the events they were expected to win.  My favorite race of the meet was the mens 800m final where this year’s NCAA 1500m champion Clayton Murphy perfectly executed his race strategy to take the US title over the favorite Boris Berian.  I am now a Clayton Murphy fan and he is the future of US middle distance running.

Tracktown is a great place to visit especially during big meets such as the Olympic Trials, US Championships, or NCAA Championships.  In 2021 Hayward Field will be hosting the IAAF World Championships so you should think about getting tickets to that.  Eugene is all about track and offers hundreds of miles of walking and jogging paths and trails all across the city and the neighboring city of Springfield.  The most popular of these trails sits in Alton Baker Park near the University of Oregon and is made of tree bark chips.  The trail is named after the late great University of Oregon runner and 1972 Olympian Steve Prefontaine.  Eugene is a great place. If you are a real track fan you need to go to Eugene and attend a meet at Hayward Field and experience Tracktown. 

US Men Going to Rio

100: Justin Gatlin, Trayvon Bromell, Marvin Bracy
110H: Devon Allen, Ronnie Ash, Jeff Porter
200: Justin Gatlin, LaShawn Merritt, Ameer Webb

400: LaShawn Merritt, Gil Roberts, David Verburg
400H: Kerron Clement, Byron Robinson, Michael Tinsley
800: Clayton Murphy, Boris Berian, Charles Jock
1500: Matt Centrowitz, Robbie Andrews, Ben Blankenship
3K SC: Evan Jager, Hillary Bor, Donn Cabral
5K: Bernard Lagat, Hassan Mead, Paul Chelimo
10K: Galen Rupp, Shadrack Kipchirchir, Leonard Korir
Decathlon: Ashton Eaton, Jeremy Taiwo, Zach Ziemek
High Jump: Erik Kynard, Bradley Adkins, Ricky Robertson (Adkins and Robertson were third and sixth but the top two men behind Kynard with the standard)
Shot Put: Ryan Crouser, Joe Kovacs, Darrell Hill
Discus Throw: Mason Finley, Tavis Bailey, Andrew Evans
Triple Jump: Will Claye, Christian Taylor, Chris Benard
Long Jump: Jeff Henderson, Jarrion Lawson, Marquis Dendy (Will Claye was third but doesn’t have the Olympic standard)
Pole Vault: Sam Kendricks, Cale Simmons, Logan Cunningham
Javelin Throw: Cyrus Hostetler, Sam Crouser, Sean Furey (Curtis Thompson and Riley Dolezal were second and third but don’t have the Olympic standard)
Marathon: Galen Rupp, Meb Keflezighi, Jared Ward
50K Racewalk: John Nunn

US Women Going to Rio

100: English Gardner, Tori Bowie, Tianna Bartoletta
100H: Brianna Rollins, Kristi Castlin, Nia Ali
200: Tori Bowie, Deajah Stevens, Jenna Prandini
400: Allyson Felix, Phyllis Francis, Natasha Hastings
400H: Dalilah Muhammad, Ashley Spencer, Sydney McLaughlin
800: Kate Grace, Ajee Wilson, Chrishuna Williams
1500: Jenny Simpson, Shannon Rowbury, Brenda Martinez
3K SC: Emma Coburn, Colleen Quigley, Courtney Frerichs
5K: Shelby Houlihan, Kim Conley, Abbey D’Agostino (winner Molly Huddle and fourth-place finisher Emily Infeld are only running the 10K at the Olympics)
10K: Molly Huddle, Emily Infeld, Marielle Hall
Pole Vault: Jenn Suhr, Sandi Morris, Lexi Weeks
Discus Throw: Whitney Ashley, Shelbi Vaughan, Kelsey Card
Long Jump: Brittney Reese, Tianna Bartoletta, Janay DeLoach
High Jump: Chaunte Lowe, Vashti Cunningham, Inika McPherson
Hammer Throw: Amber Campbell, Gwen Berry, Deanna Price
Javelin Throw: Maggie Malone, Kara Winger, Brittany Borman (Hannah Carson was second but doesn’t have the standard)
20K Racewalk: Maria Michta-Coffey, Miranda Melville
Triple Jump: Keturah Orji, Christina Epps, Andrea Geubelle
Shot Put: Michelle Carter, Raven Saunders, Felisha Johnson
Heptathlon: Barbara Nwaba, Heather Miller-Koch, Kendell Williams
Marathon: Amy Cragg, Desi Linden, Shalane Flanagan

Complete Results

Videos of Men’s Finals

Videos of Women’s Finals

Pictures I took at the Meet

Park of the Week: Raccoon Creek State Park

 

Raccoon Creek State Park, located in Hookstown, is a grand park that is definitely worth a visit. The park consists of multiple trails through the forest, gravel roads around the expansive campground area, sidewalks around the beach area, and paved roads that are very well shaded. Personally, I really enjoyed running on the main road through the park because it travels by all the main attractions throughout the venue: the boat rental area, the beach, and the campground.

At the boat rental area, you can take in sweeping views of the lake and the surrounding hills. Running the gravel roads around the campgrounds was a nice way to mix things up. As for the trails through the woods, I didn’t get to check all of them out, but the ones the did run on were decent. However, the trails were not well maintained in some portions, which made for some interesting moments like jumping over fallen trees, across creeks, and over some poison ivy. Overall, it was an adventurous, scenic, and fun run. Raccoon Creek State Park is worth making the trip to see it.  

Here’s my run there from a few days ago: 

USATF National Club XC Championships

USATF Club Nationals

 

The Wolf Creek Track Club is looking to bring an elite team to compete at the 2016 USATF National Club Cross Country Championships, which will take place on December 10th in Tallahassee, Florida.

 

The race is a 10K and will be held at Apalachee State Park. We would like to bring a men’s and women’s team to compete. Each team will need at least 5 members to be eligible. In order to qualify for USATF Club Nationals, the Wolf Creek Track Club must win the USATF Three Rivers Association Championship, which will be held on November 6th. If you are interested in joining our team, please contact us.   

 

If you have met any of our elite standards within the past 4 years, you will receive additional benefits. It is not a requirement to have met an elite standard to be a member of our team. 

 

Park of the Week: Deer Lakes Park (Tarentum, PA)

 

Deer Lakes Park, located in Tarentum, PA, has a mixture of paved paths and dirt trails to run. The paved paths loop around the smaller lakes at the beginning of the park. It is a very scenic, flat route that consists of multiple little bridges over the lakes. You can get a little over a mile on these paths. This would be a decent place to do a threshold run. However, the paths are only wide enough to go two runners wide and there is not much shade.

The park also has a lot of dirt trails through the woods, however some them were not very well maintained and they are very narrow. I would only recommend the trails for the most adventurous runners. Overall, this park is good place to go on a lower mileage day to run the paved paths at the beginning of the park. I was not a huge fan of the condition of the dirt trails, but if you’re feeling adventurous they could be a nice way to mix things up. 

Here’s the map of my run from a few days ago: 

 

Moraine Preservation Fund: Keeping Moraine Beautiful

Moraine Preservation Fund blog photo

Moraine Preservation Fund blog photo

The Moraine Preservation Fund

The Moraine Preservation Fund (MPF) is a non-profit, volunteer organization that maintains and improves Moraine State Park through various initiatives. As runners, we appreciate the tremendous work MPF has done to help maintain the scenic trails of Moraine State Park. Our club has chosen to support the Moraine Preservation Fund because we believe maintaining and improving local state parks is a vital component of building a vibrant running community. The volunteers at MPF work extremely hard to make Moraine State Park the best park it can be, but the organization receives little financial support. We hope that our race, the Restore the Shore 5K & 10 Mile, will give MPF the means necessary to continue carrying out its mission of keeping Moraine State Park beautiful for all of us.

To find out more about MPF visit:

http://www.morainepreservationfund.org/index.html

To sign up for the 5k and 10 mile race visit:

https://runsignup.com/Race/PA/MoraineStateParkPortersville/RestoretheShore10Mile5k

P.S. If you haven’t been to Moraine, you should come check it out as it is one of the highest rated state parks in Pennsylvania