Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hyner View Challenge 50k - race report

elevation chart of 25k, 50k about 7000ft of climb

A little over a week ago Kim and I headed down to Pennsylvania to run the Hyner View Challenge. I decided to run 50k while Kim stuck to the 25k option. I was really looking forward to being able to hit the trails for 6 or 7 hours of tough long climbs and descents on challenging technical trail. All I can say is "Wow" this race did not disappoint at all. I would call it a little hidden gem but with 1200 people in the 25k I guess only I was in the dark. Still the 50k race was very small with about 130 runners.

We drove down on Friday and hooked up with a couple of other Ontario runners at the hotel before picking up our race kits. The kits were great, awesome shirt (no advertising), socks and all kinds of editable goodies. We also got a good look at a few of the hills. I pointed out to Kim the little viewing area way up at the top of the hill that we would be climbing. Holy crap it looked like a hard climb but luckily that doesn't come until you are at least 2 miles into the race.

Saturday morning all of us headed to the start line where we got ready and met up with Carlos see his report here. Weather was okay but cold so it was gloves and tights for this one. The 50k started before the 25k so I said goodbye to Kim and we were soon off and running.

The first mile was on road and then it was into nice single track for a mile or two. I felt good and clipped along at an okay pace. I could have gone faster but one side of the trail dropped off almost straight down into the river 100 feet below so some caution was in order. I figured its cold out and I didn't bring my swimsuit so no need to go down there.

Everything was moving along well when we hit the first major climb. I cant complain as I knew this would be the first of 4 big climbs on the 25k route and that didn't include what  I would find on the other 25k loop that I was running. The hills were actually the reason I picked this race. They all have names and everyone knows that when hills have names they need to be respected, or hated, or something like that. The first climb was up "Humble Hill" and it was tough. My calves were on fire by the time I made it up the 2 mile climb. I would say the view was worth it but I was too busy sucking wind or too scared to look over the edge to enjoy it. I am still not sure which one it was.

Soon after it was about a mile of steep downhill. Okay so I had a plan for this race. I would power up the climbs and take it easy on the downhills so that I didn't destroy my quads. Sounds great when you put that plan together sitting on your couch but in reality standing at the top of steep technical downhills  not really doable.  Who was the moron that put that plan together? It was clear going slow (breaking) or going fast were both going to pound the quads so I went fast, at least while I could.

By mile 5 we were into the "flat". Oh good a new brand new wrinkle as the trail made its way along a creek bed and by along I mean in a creek bed. It was technical and crossed the stream many, many times. Sometimes you could rock jump but mostly you just got wet but hey I needed to clean the mud off my shoes anyway.

Right around 8 miles we left the 25k route and headed onto the other section for the bonus 25k. Some nice flat running and then we were climbing again up "Sledgehammer" for a 1000 ft. climb over just 1 mile. Some more flat running, the weather warmed up and I was feeling good. There was another big downhill and then something happened. Not sure what it was but it was something.

First the sun disappeared as I made my way up the second long creek bed of the day. Is it snowing? What the heck! Then it was into the creek, out of the creek, run 50 meters and back into the creek. Repeat for the next few miles. Don't they know that I already cleaned off my shoes in the last  creek? Good thing this was the exact moment that my legs abandoned me. Way to go legs, thanks for coming out. Next stop was dark and brooding land. The only good thing about this is that I have been here many times. I think I must have purchased a time share in miseryville since I just keep on coming back there every spring. I also know that if you push through you can come out of it pretty quickly so I cling to this idea. Even when I fall while going uphill and bash both my knees into a giant rock I cling to the hope.

I am soon at the aid station at 18 miles and starting to feel decent again. I am slowing down but have started to  actually enjoy the trail again.  At mile 21 we are back headed down the "Sledgehammer" which is totally runnable unless of course your quads are toast which mine are so I take a controlled descent here until I am right back onto the 25k course where we left it.

More creek running but in an added twist its all going up hill. Just when you think you have seen it all the RD throws another sinister twist at you. I am really starting to like this guy, is that sad or what? Another big downhill, its long its technical, its single track and its got a fair number of back of the pack 25k runners making their way to the finish. At first I am thinking crap this is going to make it harder but I could not be more wrong. The 25k people were amazing, they watched for the 50kers and quickly moved out of the way as soon as they saw you. Man people at this race are really nice.

Finally it's onto the last big climb which is actually 2 climbs. First you make your way up a number of switchbacks  for a good mile or so and just when you think you are almost done you hit SOB hill. It's name is very well deserved although it's only about 400 meters long it goes almost straight up, hands were required at a number of points in time.

climbing up SOB

Looking back at SOB

I was gased after this but you get rewarded with some nice runnable fire roads before being plunged into your last downhill. It was so long and technical with a nice drop off down to the creek below that I must have been running it slower then the flats I had just come off of. I was just not going to trust my trashed legs at this point. Finally after well over a mile we were back onto the road and headed for the finish line. The flat road was quite welcome at that point but a tease as just before we hit the finish it was back into the trail for one more steep hill climb to the end. I heard lots of swearing here and it wasn't even coming from me. Nice of the RD to throw in one more gottcha just for fun.

Finished in 7:17:22 a little slower then I had hoped for (7 hours) but given the workout I was happy with it. Kim ran a good race as well considering she has never run on a course this technical before so it was a good tune up for Bear Mountain. Finish line food was some of the best I have had at any race. BBQ chicken, hotdogs, potato salad, baked beans, pizza and lots of local micro brewery beer.

I can't say enough about how great this race was. Every aspect was 5 stars. No doubt we will be returning to run this one again in the years to come.


  1. Wow, that elevation profile!! Congratulations on another strong race!

  2. Thanks for the vivid recap of the course. I still haven't made it to Hyner, maybe next year it will fit into the plan.

    Doing Mega??

  3. Congrats to both of you. Looks quite challening! Well done.

  4. Congratst to you both. Wow! That was technical sounding and crazy. It seems you and I are on the misery train to miserablytown.

  5. Congratulations to you both man. One of these days, if so inclined, I might do this being close to the area from PA. I always hear from locals that it is quite the Hyner Challenge and technical. now I have reading from you. Thanks for the report. Take care, and again, Congratulations!

  6. What impressive chart of that hilly running path!
    The third photo is fantastic: it seems that you're were running close to the edge.
    Congrats to both of you.

    Beautiful report, as usual.

  7. Well done, Chris, on a super tough course! Just some easy work for Pb, right? :) Congratulations!


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