Central PA Race Draws Fast Competition and Huge Crowds

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The La Sportiva Mountain Cup continued with its second race of 2016, the Hyner View Trail Challenge

The Hyner View Trail Challenge had around 1,300 runners this year. All photos by Quinn Carrasco/La Sportiva

Central Pennsylvania is the unassuming home of a rugged trail-running community—and the terrain to match. Rolling hills covered in thick trees stretch as far as the eye can see. Steep grades meet at gurgling creeks that offer beautiful distraction when you’re running on the well-kept trails.

With over 1,300 people participating in the Hyner View Trail Challenge—plenty more didn’t get in due to the entry limit—the area’s trails were filled to the brim this Saturday with strong runners from all over the nation.

On race-day morning, cool temps and scattered clouds created perfect conditions for a competitive race and fast times. As the racers lined up at the start, it was clear that this was one of the biggest trail races in the nation. The throng of runners, all with their own race-day jitters and finish-line dreams, gave this event the feel of a massive Euro trail race. After a quick reminder to keep the trails litter free and to look around once in a while, the runners were off.


During the 16-mile race, Matt Lipsey put some serious distance on the rest of his competition. Crossing the finish line in 2:12:17, Lipsey secured first place overall along with a $1,000 cash prize and a free entry to the La Sportiva Mountain Cup championship race, the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase. Soon after Lipsey crossed the finish line, Eric Marshall (2:18:26) came storming into a respectable second place, and third place went to John Johnson (2:24:30).

The top women out on the course were just as impressive, coming in not far behind the top men. Sarah Keyes (2:37:40), a New York trail runner and new addition to the La Sportiva Mountain Running Ambassadors, surprised everyone with a hard-fought victory over Sayard Tanis (2:40:18) and Meira Minard (2:44:43), second and third place, respectively. To give an idea of how much of an upset this is, only four racers in the top 30 were from outside PA.

Keyes didn’t really start running until after college, while volunteering with Americorps. She quickly found that on long runs, there was peace, quiet and reflection, away from the stress of group dynamics. Fast forward to the present and she’s causing a stir in the community and grabbing big prizes from the La Sportiva Mountain Cup.


The two winners: Matt Lipsey (top) and Sarah Keyes

Tanis and Minard are both very strong Pennsylvania locals who had been forecasted to have the best chance at winning. After finishing, Tanis stayed all day, to work at the Inside Track booth selling running apparel and footwear to other competitors and spectators. Hours after her strong finish, I caught her kneeling down to help someone with a pair of shoes and my knees hurt just watching her.

Craig Flemming, race director and leader of the PA Trail Dogs, has been putting on this race for 10 years and has a passion for running that shows in his devotion to the sport and the tight-knit community he fosters. Every year, in the weeks before each of his races, Craig and volunteers wield axes, macleods, chainsaws and other trail-building tools to make sure the trails are perfect before and after each race. This year, over 1,000 man hours went into maintaining the trails at Hyner View State Park.

The podium finishers show off their smiles (and their winnings)

With this devotion to the trail comes a deep knowledge of each course down to absurdly meticulous details. On race day, most race directors are running around with a walkie talkie, making sure that race day is running smoothly along the itinerary. Craig, on the other hand, was relaxed on race day and even ran the 25K in a respectable time of 3:20:44.

Full results can be found here.

Next, the La Sportiva Mountain Cup heads to Helena, Montana to race Don’t Fence Me In.

Trail Runner is a media partner of the La Sportiva Mountain Cup. Follow La Sportiva on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get all the Mountain Cup updates. Another huge thank you to Mountain Cup partners Farm to Feet and Clif Bar!

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