How Not To Get Lost On South Mountain Preserve

I found myself visiting an old friend this morning: the South Mountain Preserve trails. I’ve always found that I know very intimate details about the routes I run the most. On this trail, for instance, I notice which trees have been downed from the last storm, where someone has carved out a new path, a pile of branches which someone has cleaned off the trail, how long it’s been since someone has come through and done some trail maintenance, and so on. I’m following the shorter orange trail today, it’s about all I can handle since my running regimen has fallen into a very bad state of lapse.

As I run along the trail, periodically taking a walk break or stopping to take a photo, I am reminded of a comment a friend made recently. She had come to South Mountain Preserve and gotten lost. This is not the first time I’ve heard of someone getting lost up here and it always confuses me because these trails are marked extremely well by our friends, the Valley Mountain Bikers. There are only four trails and all of them begin and end with the orange trail. The trails by color are orange, blue, yellow and red. If you keep going right at the intersection of each marked trail you can hit them all very easily.

Why are so many people getting lost? The question hits me as I take a short cut straight up the ridge and bypass the switchback on the west side of the preserve. I’ve spent countless hours on this ridge and know the place like the back of my hand. My “old familiar”, as I call my favorite running routes, still etched in my mind as if I were here only yesterday. I begin to wonder if the reason is not because of the markings, but perhaps folks need a little explanation on how to read trail markings.

Trail Blaze Primer

The marks you see along a trail are called “blazes”. A blaze will be either one slash or two slashes. This is an example of a one slash blaze. This means that you are on the orange path. You will find a blaze like this approximately every 100 feet, or whenever there is a sharp turn on the path.


Below is an example of a double blaze. This means that there is a turn ahead. It is placed wherever the path is questionable. This could mean that two trails joined each other and run along the same path for a small section. In this case you will see two blazed color markings. Where one of these trails breaks off you will see a mark indicating that you should turn left or right.

On South Mountain a left turn is indicated by both slashes pointing left, or both slashes pointing right means there is a right turn.

This blaze indicates that there is a left turn:

This blaze indicates that there is a right turn:

South Mountain Preserve is easy to find, located just off Alpine Street in Emmaus. From I-78 take Lehigh St South exit. Head towards Emmaus and turn left on 31st St for 0.3 mile and then right on Emmaus Ave for 0.5 mile. (Emmaus Ave turns into Dalton Ave.) Keep to the left at the Y and stay on Dalton Ave. Turn left on Alpine St and go 0.2 mile to the trailhead. Parking is to the left. There is an additional parking lot at Klines Lane (just past Shangy’s), follow to end, parking on left, trail follows rail road tracks.

There is a trail map at the kiosk.

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New Trail Group Runs at Bear Creek

Remember that Happy Hour I threw up at Bear Creek Resort last year? For several of you it was your first visit to the resort and you expressed interest in running the trails up on the mountain. Well, I have good news for you! A couple of us have been working with Bear Creek to set up a series of group trail runs this summer.

The runs will take place every 2nd and 4th Thursday from May 24 to August 23. The runs will begin at 6:30 pm and last around an hour or so. The group will finish up the evening by enjoying the resort’s weekly special, Yuengs and Wings night (50¢ hot wings and $2.00 Yuengling drafts), while kicking back and listening to live music on the deck. The second Thursday of each month features live acoustic music on the deck, and on the fourth Thursday each month enjoy the outdoor summer series, Music Under The Stars.

Each group run will be lead by fellow trail runners who are familiar with the Bear Creek trails. Everyone is welcome to join. The trails at Bear Creek offer technical and non-technical terrain and remember, you will be running up and down the side of a mountain surrounding a ski slope. There are some decent inclines and declines to contend with.


Meet at Parking Lot #4 at the Trailhead Kiosk.

This is a perfect way to learn the trails and meet fellow trail runners. Visit the Valley Trail Running Facebook page for information and to RSVP for the runs.

May 24 – 1st run!
June 14 & June 28
July 12 & July 26
August 9 & August 23

Celebrate National Trail Running Day on August 20

Lehigh Valley Running Scene and Bux-Mont Running Club are teaming together to bring you this fun trail run at Nockamixon State Park.

We are celebrating National Trail Running Day and hope you will join us.

WHEN: Saturday, August 20
TIME: 9:30 am
WHERE: Nockamixon State Park, meet at the Tower Road Trailhead (see map below)
RSVP: please leave an RSVP over on Facebook

After the run we will be heading to Beckers Corner to refuel.
Beckers Corner is located at 110 Old Bethlehem Road, Quakertown, PA 18951

We will run for approximately 1 hour before refuleing at Beckers. If you wish to run longer, please coordinate with each other over on the event page.

DIRECTIONS: Check out the map and get directions.​s/ms?msid=2130328205437799​38780.0004a90100775b787db3​2&msa=0&ll=40.457397%2C-75​.124512&spn=0.409085%2C0.7​62863

LINK TO TRAIL INFO:​s/stateparks/parks/nockami​xon/nockamixon_trails.aspx

PARK MAP:​s/stateparks/parks/nockami​xon/nockamixon_mini_pdf.pd​f

Finding Fun and Friendship on the Trails

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On Sunday, May 21st, nearly 30 runners met at the base of South Mountain in Bethlehem for a trail run. Not just any trail run, this was a Fat Ass event organized and lead by trail enthusiast, Dave Decker. Dave, a recent 100 mile finisher – yeah, you read that right – loves the trails. Heck, he just loves being outside with his friends and running, but who doesn’t? On this particular Sunday Dave, our fearless leader, had visited the trails a few days earlier and marked them with flagging tape, bright orange “breadcrumbs” , if you will, for us runners to follow.

Having a marked course doesn’t mean you won’t get lost. Several folks, myself included, ended up with some extra mileage that day when we missed a couple of turns. By the time I found the food cooler (a welcome beacon for tired legs and hungry runners) half-way through the 12 mile (15 miles for me) loop, I was ready for a snack. “Yes!” I cried. I threw open the lid and scanned the contents, my eyes quickly fell upon some homemade granola bars. Heaven!

Before long I was back on the trail again, making my way to the finish. The trails were fast at times, slow at other times, but they never stopped offering beautiful sights and sounds along the way. I made my way past groves of evergreens, stands of bayberry, and caught a unique view of southside Bethlehem from atop South Mountain. Throughout the entire run I had the company of others with whom to exchange conversation, get lost together, and with whom I enjoyed the trails. As runners finished in the same parking lot from where we started, the only requirement was for each person to touch a boulder as others cheered them in. We then tailgated with post-run food and recovery drinks. As it should be.

Three weeks later a couple of dozen runners met up for another Fat Ass run, this time on the Appalachian Trail. Most started at Hawk Mountain and ran north toward route 309, traversing rocky terrain, boulders, and finally some nice forest roads to a parking lot and yet another food cooler filled with yummy delights for runners. I, and two others, began the run two hours earlier than the rest, starting at route 309 and running south until we encountered the lead runners from the Hawk Mountain crew, at which point we turned around and headed back to 309. 18 miles total for me, which took me over 4½ hours to run. On the roads I can cover that distance in half that time. Trail running is generally slower, but so different in a good way.

There are a few things gained by running with others in this fashion. First of all, there are quite a few differences between running trails versus running roads. Most of these are quite obvious: on the trails you run on dirt, jump over tree trunks and trip over rocks; on the roads you run on a flat surface, you push the pace, and you can travel more distance in less time. However, on the trails it can be easier to bond over the miles since you are more likely to run at “talking”  pace, a pace which is slower and more conducive to conversation. (I am not saying this can’t be done on the roads as well; I met one of my closest friends during countless miles of road running together.) On the trails you tend to work a little harder to get up those hills. You try your best not to fall, but when you do, you wear your injury as a badge of honor. When you run with others on the trails you create a unique adventure together, and by the end of the run you have made new friends. I have experienced this again and again over the past year.

For a burgeoning trail runner it is helpful to run with people who have a bit more experienced than you. Though the learning curve is quick, there are a couple of trail tactics you will learn which will make running trails much more enjoyable. For instance, your personal space on the trail is much bigger than on the roads. Sure, you can breath down someone’s neck on the trail but be warned, you will not be able to see that next rock or root and react to it as quickly as you would have if you were 10 feet back.

There is a certain skill to rock hopping that is not inate, it must be learned. I witnessed this first hand on the very rocky Appalachian Trail last weekend. A woman, let’s call her “Jen” <wink>, would skitter across those rocks so fast she’d be gone the next time I’d look up. Now that is skill! One I would definitely like to learn.

You use your arms for balance a lot on the trails. On the roads you ideally want to keep your elbows close to your body, arms low and pump them in a forward to backward motion to help with your momentum, and it works. On the trails your arms are more useful extended a bit further out from your sides to help keep you stabilized and working to keep a center of gravity. Lose your balance and down you go, most likely to do some pushups in the middle of your run (which is a polite way to say “fall on your face”. )

Running and drinking … very important when you are out on the trails for four or more hours. How are you going to carry that water? Three options here: handheld water bottle, hydration pack, or nothing. You will encounter trail runners in all three categories. Personally, I would be caught dead out there without my water and have begun using hydration packs much more consistently. You’ll have plenty of time out there talking with others about why they choose to carry water in their hands or on their backs and then figure out which is best for you.

Of course, there are tons more tips to offer, but back to my original topic of finding fun and friendship on the trails … as trail running numbers increase you will find more and more group runs out there, more Fat Ass events, and more trail races. I would encourage you to give it a try. Adding just one trail run a week (or even a month, which is how I got started) can do wonders for working your core muscles and different leg muscles than you would use on the road (especially your ankles and feet.)

A word of of warning: it’s easy to get hooked!

David Decker’s 100 Mile Adventure, Part II

Typical section of the Columbia Trail which David ran as part of the NJ Trail Ultra

When we last left Dave, he was more than half-way along in his first one hundred mile race. Friends and family had been out to support him from the sidelines or running alongside him for most of Saturday. It’s now early on Sunday and Dave has several more miles to go before he’s done. The final miles can be tough as we learn below.

So, what used to be a large group was suddenly down to just mGayle and me. It was about to get bigger again because Jen and Jim suddenly charged up behind us while we were heading through the rocky section of the Patriots Path. The funny thing that happened on this loop was when we were in the aid station. I knew that they were going to have soup at the aid station after dark so when we came into the station at about 1am I asked the Boy Scout who was helping out if they had any soup.

The answer was, no…the start/finish aid station had soup. The eastern aid station didn’t have any.

Typical section of the Columbia Trail which David ran as part of his race

Which is a perfectly fine answer to my question.

Except for the fact that I was staring at a Cup-O-Noodles container sitting on the table in front of me.

I asked further…what about the Cup-O-Noodles soup right there?

Oh, that’s for the volunteers.

Again, a perfectly valid answer to my question. They need food too.

So, I looked at the half eaten Cup-O-Noodles container with about 2 inches of salty goodness in the bottom of that cup and I inquired, “do you think they’re done with this one?”

The kid looked at me like I was out of my mind! Again, a perfectly valid response to my question.

Yeah, you can have it if you want it.

Excellent! I grabbed to cup and headed down the path inhaling the nectar of the gods that would be a cup of Cup-O-Noodles soup.

Somewhere in here my hips and my lower back were starting to get really tired. I’d still trot down the path every once in awhile, walk a lot and now every couple miles I would stop and do a semi-squat to stretch out my lower back and take the pressure off my hips.

Back at the start finish area (these 9 mile loops were taking me just about 3 hours to complete) we picked up Mark. Jen and Jim decided to go out for the third loop with me and mGayle was in charge of getting me to eat. Mark had pacing duties. The pace kept getting slower. My stretching stops became more frequent (but those were probably on 30 seconds or so at a time) and now I took advantage of the aid station chairs and the occasional rock on the trail while they were filling my water bottle.

Jim grabbed some jelly beans and some M&M’s for me and I ate those. mGayle kept handing me some pretzel sticks and I would nibble my way down those getting some calories and salt. But for the most part now I was drinking Coke from my water bottle and drinking down as much soup as we could get at the aid stations. They brought some potato leek soup out to the eastern aid station on the 3rd loop at that was just heavenly.

At the end of the 3rd loop mGayle, Jen and Jim were all thinking about staying out for the final loop with me and Mark but I encouraged them to head home. They all had long drives ahead of them and at that point had been out for about 9 hours with me. The big surprise for me was Kaki, Emily and Amy were waiting at the start/finish aid station to wish me good luck for my last loop. (I don’t think I looked too good at that point and I think I remember muttering something about being really tired over and over.)

Lots of people were coming in to finish at this point but I knew I still had more than 3 hours of work ahead of me. Mark and I headed out and mGayle came along for just a little more. According to his Garmin watch he was about 1 mile shy of running a marathon while he was out there with me so he decided to make it exactly 26.2 miles. Add that to the 5 miles he ran with me 20 hours earlier and he ended up running a 50k. That’s a big day.

Soon it was just me and Mark and we had 9 miles to go…now, this is the part that gets a little “indelicate” so if you want to skip past this…no one will mind! Especially me. How much trouble could I possible get in with only 9 miles to go.

It’s about 6am Sunday morning and I’ve been on the move for 26 hours. My body decided it was time to get rid of some of that junk I had been putting into my body. So I pulled off the trail into the woods to use the bathroom. I got my baby wipes out of my pocket and cleaned up very nicely. (Don’t worry nature lovers…those baby wipes went into my coat pocket to be disposed of later.)

All good so far.

Do you remember me talking about the Body Glide stuff that I put all over my body to avoid any chafing? Well, when I wiped myself with those baby wipes, all that body glide got wiped away as well. Suddenly I had skin on very tender skin rubbing and bleeding. And the kicker…when you run salt gets excreted from your pores…and guess where that salt was located! You got it! Ow. No, really…OW!

“Mark, I’m having some trouble here.” and I explained quickly what was going on. He understood of course…he’s a long distance runner too. Well, the blood and the chafing were making me waddle down the path with VERY unusual stride. So unusual that after about half an hour I suddenly felt this wetness down on one of my toes on my right foot. Uh oh. I know what that means. I blister has just popped on my foot and I have open skin now pressing against the front of my shoe.

We got to the aid station and told the guy my problem. They got out a tool box another fellow popped out of the tent next to us and started helping right away. They gave me some packets of “lubri-something-or-other” and I applied it right away! Much better. Time to look at my feet. It wasn’t a pretty site! Took off my shoes and socks and Mark slapped some tape around the toe with the blister.

We had just wasted some very precious time tending to some very important needs. Suddenly though, we were pressed for time. We had 6 miles to go and about 3 hours before the 30 hour cutoff. It should be mountains of time, but if other bad things happened, we would run out of time and I wouldn’t be an official finisher. We couldn’t have that. Mark explained the situation and we headed out at a power walk type pace.Yes, that’s probably an exaggeration but it just means we were walking more quickly.

The new pace along with “slightly” different stride was making my right shin hurt a lot. I explained what was going on to Mark but there wasn’t anything to do about it. We got down to the turn around and I received my final check mark on my race number. I just needed to get back to the Finish (4 1/2 miles). I looked at the road on my left and saw our car driving by. The girls had driven out to cheer for me and they brought me more soup! Yeah for me!

We kept moving and blew through the final aid station without bothering to stop.We got to the Patriots Path area now with lots of time to spare and headed toward home for the last mile and a half section. I love finding money when I run and I always stop to pick it up. We were about a mile from the finish and I looked down and saw a shiny dime at my feet. It took me a second or two to find the dexterity to pick it up but it was an appropriate finish to the day.

At this point I knew I would finish, new I would finish within the 30 hour time limit and now it looked like I would finish in less than 29 hours as well. I was the last official finisher to cross the finish line. They held up the finisher’s tape for me just like they did for the first place finisher and I crossed the line.

100 miles in 28 hours, 51 minutes and 46 seconds.

I sat down on a bench and instantly my body knew it was off the clock. I barely stood up and with the help of the others I walked the 20 or 30 steps down to the car. We dropped Mark off at his truck and thanked him again for everything. I waited in the car while the girls checked out of the hotel. They kept the room just in case I wanted to get a shower or take a quick nap. I wanted nothing but to crawl into the sleeping bag in the back of the car and pass out. And that’s just what I did.

An hour or so later we pulled into our driveway and Kaki and Emily helped carry me into the house where I collapsed onto the bed for about an 18 hour sleep only interrupted briefly to put some real food into my body. A couple days later I’m almost back to square one. My right ankle is a little swollen and the blisters are all better on both feet.

I really don’t like to use words like “never” as in “never again” but it will be a big surprise to everyone (including me) if I ever run this distance again.

It was so much harder both physically and mentally than I ever thought possible.

100 Miles Begin With The First Step

This past March, David Decker set out to run 100 miles at the NJ Ultra Festival. This would be his first attempt at such an insane distance. With the help of family and friends, Dave finished the race and continues to inspire those around him by organizing groups trail runs and encouraging others to find happiness through their running. What follows is the first part of his race report. Be careful, Dave might just inspire you to try this yourself!

by David Decker

About 10 years ago I started running seriously. I’m not built for speed but I’ve been teaching myself to run farther over the years. For the last 5 years I’ve been focused on making my first attempt at completing a hundred mile race.

I had one false start about 4 years ago. I had done my first 50 mile mountain race in Vermont and thrown in an Ironman and a few marathons in a very short period of time and ended up spending the better part of a year nursing some knee injuries.

I started over from square one…ok, maybe not quite square one but it sure felt like it at the time.

I was determined to go into this race with a healthy body. Yes, I still did some long runs but I also added in a lot of double runs during the day and night. I ran a lot on tired legs. Not so many 20 mile runs but a lot of 15 mile runs broken up into 5 at lunch and 10 after work with friends.

I’ve learned that my body tends to start breaking down if I get over 50 miles per week. I also get bored of that amount of running. So, I kept my mileage in the 45 miles per week area.

Was that kind of mileage enough to finish a hundred? I had no idea, but I overheard my daughter Amy on the phone one day explaining to my sister-in-law about the race. The half of the conversation that I heard went something like this, “well he’s pretty determined to finish so I expect he probably will.”

She knows her father. I’ve never had a “DNF” (Did Not Finish) in a race but clearly, if I was ever going to have one…this could be it.

I was healthy going into the race. No aches and pains. My mind and body were in a good place.

The race that I picked was nearby, The New Jersey Ultra Series. As a result, I had a lot of family and a lot of friends there to cheer and keep my spirits up.

The majority of the course is on the very flat Columbia Trail (76 miles) but there is a significant portion of the race that was on the Patriots Path (24 miles). Not an insignificant amount of very rocky, hilly, washed out trail kind of miles…especially significant after 20 or 25 hours.

We got really lucky with the weather in March. The few days just before the race warmed up into the 70’s which dried out a lot of the very rainy spring rains we had already seen and the wind was supposed to calm down which would keep the first night very comfortable (in the mid 40’s) and the second night down near freezing (but I had the warm clothes ready for that temperature).

The one thing that I didn’t count on at the beginning of the journey, the thing that I couldn’t count on until we got closer to the race, was the amazing amount of running support that my family and my running friends genuinely wanted to give me during the race.

I was rarely alone. My wife and two daughters volunteered at the far western turnaround location (so that always gave me something to look forward to on the way out) and almost my entire group of running friends (the Breakfast Club Runners…look for it on Facebook if you want to see the pictures of the race) scheduled their Saturday morning run on the Columbia trail so they could cheer me on for a few hours.

My sister and her family was in town escaping the earthquake problems of Tokyo and she asked if she could come out and run with me. Well, my mom and dad drove out with her for moral support and my sister came along for the run. My dad ended up running 12 miles with me and my sister ran 16.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The hundred mile race started at 4am, followed by the 100 kilometer racers an hour after us, followed by the 50 mile racers an hour later, followed by the 50 kilometer racers, and finally the marathon racers starting at 8am.

This was really nice because it gave the longer distance runners more space to find their own pace without a lot of jack rabbits around at aid stations at the same time we were moving through. It also gave you the feeling that there were a lot of people on the out and back course to look at.

So off we went into the night with the full moon overhead and we started to churn out miles. Nothing fast. Just steady.

Running at night is a sensation all its own. You can only see the next five feet or so in front of you so you don’t look down the trail and see 10 or 15 unending miles in front of you. You just see those 5 feet. It’s very calming and I really love it.

That first 16 miles were just flying by and before I knew it, the sun was starting to come up and I turned off the head lamp on my head. I watched what I knew would be my first sunrise of the race. I also knew that the second time I saw a sunrise during the race, I wouldn’t be feeling that good.

Just before I got back to the start/finish race headquarters area to start my second loop, my first of many visitors were hanging out the window cheering for me. There was Frank, Jennie, fGayle and Alison all ready to run…well, Alison wasn’t running but only because she is about to have her third child, otherwise she would have run too. fGayle jumped out of the car and started running with me, followed by both Frank and Jennie farther down the trail. Jennie was worried ahead of time that she wouldn’t be running fast enough to keep up during a race but I quickly explained to her how slow I would be going. I’m not sure she believed me until she got out on the trail and saw the pace I was keeping. fGayle and I ended up running something like 16 miles together that morning.

I was just shy of my first marathon of the day when cars pulled up alongside the trail and out jumped an entire pack of Breakfast Club Runners. Out jumped Roger, Carol, mGayle, Christina and her friend Stacy. Adding in Frank, Jennie and fGayle…I suddenly had 8 friends surrounding me for their 5 mile jaunt through the forrest.

They took lots of pictures, which was a good thing since at that time I was still having fun and smiling.

It was great fun having everyone around for that hour or so but after a bit, they went off to get breakfast (as they should…we are the breakfast club after all) and it was just me and fGayle heading back to town.

As we were getting closer to town, suddenly at the road crossing ahead was my wife and two daughters cheering and yelling their heads off at the two of us approaching. They had gone out that morning to the dollar store and bought pom poms and clappers and all kinds of things to help the runner’s spirits stay high.

I stopped just long enough for hugs and kisses and headed off to complete my 2nd Western loop and my 32nd mile.

Heading down the Patriots Path was my friend Mark on his mountain bike. Mark was the reason I had even heard of this race because he happens to live about 1 minute from the trail. He came along with me for a few miles and showed me some of his favorite trout fishing locations when suddenly there was another big group to see me. On the right side of the path were my friends Kimberly, Jean and Susan and on the left side of the path was my mom, dad and sister. I said a quick hello to my friends, went to the left side of the trail and dad and my sister joined in with me. Mark peeled off on his bike and headed home for a few hours of rest. He was part of the night shift and I knew I would be seeing him around 2am ready to run some very difficult miles.

My dad and sister took me out to the west end and back logging the 12 and 16 miles with me which took me to the halfway point. I looked at my watch. Just over 12 hours for 50 miles.

The rule of thumb is that if you want to figure out your estimated time for 100 miles, you take your 50 mile time, multiply those hours by 1.5, add them together and you’ve got a good idea for how long it’s going to take.

Ok, both my runs in the 50 mile area were around 12 hours and this run so far was 12 hours so we multiply 12 times 1.5 and we get 18 hours for the second 50 miles.

18 hours?

That can’t be right, can it?

That’s 30 hours total. Boy, I hope that isn’t right. Ahead of time I looked at my estimated numbers and said to myself, if I can hold 4.5 miles per hour early, then 4 miles per hour in the second 25 miles, then I could spend the second half of the race at 3 miles per hour and still be just a little over 28 hours.

Three miles per hour is incredibly slow by any standards and that translates to a little more that 19 minutes per mile. On a normal day, it’s hard to WALK that slow let alone run at that pace.

Except this wasn’t a normal day and these wouldn’t be normal conditions and I would quickly learn how hard it would be to maintain such an optimistic expectation as 19 minutes per mile.

But once again, forgive me for getting ahead of myself.

I’ve heard that during any typical 100 mile experience you and your body will experience several high points and several low points. Expect the low points and have a plan to get past them. The plan is pretty simple actually. Get more food and water into your body. A low point usually means you are running low on fuel.

The aid stations were excellent. Lots of variety. Tons of fresh fruit. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. All kinds of energy drinks, Coca Cola, Mountain Dew, Ginger Ale. Trail mixes, candies. More sugar and carbohydrates (read: fuel) than any runner could possibly consume.

But here’s the problem (and it’s always the same problem at just about every race), after 12 or 15 or 20 hours everyone gets sick of eating sweet things. I remember grabbing a handful of strawberries at one point during the night (so that must have been north of 64 miles) and just couldn’t swallow a mouthful of delicious strawberries.

So, somewhere back at mile 45 or so, I was having one of those low points. I just couldn’t get enough calories into my body. I’m just realizing it now looking back on the day that my energy levels picked up again shortly after I drank one of my bottles of vanilla Ensure at about mile 58 or so.

The other thing I picked up at mile 58 was my friend Brian and his friend Jim. Brian is an excellent athlete. Loves to do all kinds of long bike and running races. So, as the story was told to me while we were running, Brian called up Jim and said, “hey, do you want to do something really stupid tonight?”. Well, Jim had already done an 89 mile bike ride in the morning so he clearly had no reason NOT to join in the fun. Jim is my kind of people!

They packed up their Camelbacks, loaded up with food and sandwiches and introduced themselves to my wife and daughters and waited for me to arrive. Well kind of. They were actually anxious to get started so they started trotting down the path in military tempo to meet me a mile earlier even though they knew I had to be coming their way any minute.

They retraced their steps with me in tow this time and I went to get my 4th of 4 check marks on my race number to prove I had made it to the far, western side of the course again.

More kisses and hugs from my girls. Drank that bottle of Ensure that I mentioned earlier (why didn’t I think of that later in the race?) and off we went.

The eastern part of the course was ahead, but we had to run 8 miles before we would get there.

We actually picked up the pace quite nicely in this section. We were guessing we were covering miles at about a 14 minute clip at that point. We would walk for a bit then switch to a trot for a mile or so again.

The best part of finishing that loop was I wouldn’t have to head over to the Western side of the course anymore.

And here’s why…originally, the plan for the race was, run the 16 mile loop to the west, then head out on the eastern loop for 9 miles…25 miles total and do the entire thing four times. That would have made perfect sense but apparently one of the townships wouldn’t give permission for the racers to be on the course after dark. So, they decided to do all 4 Western loops first (during the daytime) and then switch to the eastern loops for night time.

It worked out fine. In fact, from the race director’s perspective it might even have worked out better this way. They wouldn’t have to stock three full aid stations with food and volunteers constantly for 30 hours and they wouldn’t need to staff both turnarounds for the entire time as well.

But with all that said, after spending all that time (roughly 16 hours) and all those miles (a total of 64) on the West side…I was happy to get to the east side of the course.

I pulled into the start/finish aid station and started to prepare for the night run and right there was my brother Jon and his girlfriend Brittany. They were going to join us for the first of four nighttime loops.

I needed warmer clothes. The temperature was expected to drop below 32 degrees overnight and I was prepared. We grabbed my bag of clothes and headed into the church for as quick of a change as possible. So far all my aid station stops were less than a minute. I didn’t want to lose time when I could be eating and walking toward the finish line.

But this was going to be different. I needed to change every bit of clothing. (I only didn’t change my shoes. At that point I didn’t have any blisters so I didn’t want to “fix” something that wasn’t broken.)

The other very, very important item for my attention was that I needed to re-apply the Body Glide to prevent chafing.

At the start of this race I really felt that my legs were strong enough and my mind was strong enough to get to the finish line. The one thing that could sink this ship in a flash would have been the chafing.

Back in Philadelphia when I did my double marathon I was in serious, serious pain because the waist band of my shorts and tights had cut a gash into my skin all the way around my body. And that was only 52 miles. I couldn’t afford to make that kind of an error in this event.

Body Glide is a lubricant but for some reason it doesn’t wear off quickly. I ended up re-applying it 3 times though out the day and night to my waist, my shoulders and chest…and those unmentionable areas that would have been a big, big problem with chafing!

So, there we are in the church, looking for a private area for me to get changed. Both bathrooms were taken so we went to a hallway and started stripping down…Jon keeping a lookout and my pit-crew getting me dry clothes and packing away the wet clothes.

Of course, this happened to be the very moment when a girl opened the front door right behind me and walked into the hall.

I apologized for my nakedness and went on with the task at hand.

We probably lost 15 minutes.

On the way out the door I found a tray of these little mini enchilada type things that were just heavenly. My body was craving spicy food. I grabbed about 12 of them and we marched out the door and headed to the trail.

That first “eastern” loop I was still feeling pretty good. Those were miles 64 to 73 and if I’m remembering correctly we started that loop around 8:30 pm on Saturday night.

I wasn’t running a lot at that point but every now and then I would start trotting down the path and that would help our speed.

This section was tighter than the western loop. It was only 9 miles long as opposed to 16 miles long and it was always 3 miles between aid station stops.

Me crew at that point was Brian, Jim, Jon and Brittany. Every time we came to an aid station Brian would try to get me to eat. We all knew I needed to get a lot more calories into my body than was going in. I ate some salt tablets and a couple Advil. (During the entire event I ate probably 6 to 8 salt tablets and 7 Advil.)

Pretzel sticks worked a little. I kept eating some grapes, forced in some strawberries and M&M’s. But it really wasn’t working.

We headed down to the turnaround and suddenly mGayle was trotting towards and joined our group. I knew he was interested in putting in some serious miles too and was probably going to be around until Mark showed up at about 2am.

The rest of that loop was pretty uneventful. We hit the turnaround and headed back to the start/finish area. As we got back to the end of the Patriots Path Brian and Jim decided to call it a night (they had put in about 6 hours of running at that point). They knew that I had a bunch of people coming shortly and that I wouldn’t be on the trail alone.

Jon and Brittany also had a long drive home so they headed out as well.

Check back next week for Part II of Dave’s Hundred Mile Adventure!

Celebrate National Trails Day®

South Mountain Preserve

In celebration of National Trails Day®, LV Running Scene will be hosting a group trail run at South Mountain Preserve in Emmaus.

WHEN: Saturday, June 4
WHERE: South Mountain Preserve, Emmaus

This is a great introduction to the South Mountain nature area. Run past boulders that are two billion years old, surroundeded by old 19th century quarries and mature hardwood forests.

We will follow the perimeter network of trails (orange, blue, yellow, and red blazed trails) around the Preserve. Trails are mainly single track and become slightly more technical near the top of the ridge. Bring water to carry. Run will be approximately 5.5 miles in length.

Questions, email or leave a comment below.

DIRECTIONS: From I-78 take exit 57 (Lehigh St). Go south on Lehigh St (towards Emmaus) and turn left on Klines Lane. (There is a Top Star gas station on the corner right near Shangies Beer Distributor and the Emmuas Public Library is across the street.) Drive up the hill, over the rail road tracks and there is a parking a stone parking lot on the left. The trail starts at the far East side of the parking lot.

Trail Running Growing in Popularity

Trail Talk at the Finish Line

Trail enthusiasts met last last evening at a trail clinic which took place at The Finish Line Running Store. Warren Greene, brand editor at Runner’s World, brought a variety of trail running shoes and discussed different types of shoes, uses, how lugs differed on shoes and their purpose and the difference between east coast-west coast trail shoes.

Mike Martinez, Health Director for St. Luke’s Half Marathon, will be race directing a new trail race this coming October and spoke about his race, the Inaugural Lehigh Gap Nature Center More or Less a 10k Trail Run. Each year Mike will put on the same approximate distance race but the course will differ from year to year but will utilize different trails per race. No race will ever be the same.

Another race which was discussed last evening was the upcoming Quadzilla 15k trail race which will take place at Trexler Nature Preserve this July. This race will follow the perimeter of the preserve, offering a variety of terrains and scenic vistas, includes several hills and a creek crossing near the race’s finish.

We finished the clinic with questions from the group. A great discussion ensued about pace on the trails and how trail miles correlate to road miles. It was agreed that paces will slow down on the trails considerably and that it’s best to think of trail runs in terms of time versus pace. A heart rate monitor is a great tool to judge your effort when running trails.

Trail running requires a bit more concentration, especially on more technical trails, so that you don’t trip over roots or rocks. It also offers more opportunity to observe wildlife in natural habitats. It can be relaxing to enjoy the beauty of your surroundings, the sounds and the smells. There are several places to run trails locally, and more and more group trail runs are popping up. See below for places to run, groups to run with and upcoming local trail events.

Local Trails

Bear Creek Resort, Macungie – 5 miles – More infotrail map
D&L Trail, Easton – 13 miles- More info – trail map
Ironton Rail Trail, Whitehall – 14 miles of trails, 5 mile paved loop – More infotrail map
Jacobsburg State Park, Belfast – 18 miles – More infotrail map
Lehigh Parkway, Allentown – 6 mile cinder loop –  trail map
Lehigh Canal Towpath, Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton – 11+ miles along Lehigh River – More info
Nor-Bath Trail, Northampton – 4.5 miles – More info
Palmer Township Trail, Easton – < 8 miles – More info
Plainfield Township Trail, Stockertown/Wind Gap – 6.5 miles – More info
South Mountain Preserve, Emmaus – 6+ miles – More infotrail map
Trexler Nature Preserve, Schnecksville – More infotrail map
Saucon Rail Trail, Center Valley – 10 miles out and back – More info
Walking Purchase Park, Bethlehem – 10+ miles of trails- More infotrail map

Group Trail Runs

T-rex Trail Runs – Trexler Nature Preserve. Every 2nd Saturday of month, 7:30 am. Facebook page.
Bears & Brews – Bear Creek Resort. Every 2nd Wednesday of month, 6:30 pm. Facebook page.
Breakfast Club Runners – various trail runs every Saturday, 7:30 am. Facebook page.
Saucon Trail Run – Wednesday nights, 7:00 pm. Meet at Upper Saucon Park off Preston Lane, Center Valley. Contact Laurie Reinhart ( or Anthony Caruso ( for more information.

Upcoming Local Events

Ironton Rail Trail 10k – 5/15 – Website
South Mountain Fat Ass – 5/22 – Website
Charlie Horse 13.1 – 5/29 (Plowville) – Website
Trexler Nature Preserve Open House – 6/4 – Website
Hickory Trail Run 10k – 6/4 – Website
Double Trouble 15k/30k – 7/10 (Morgantown) – Website
Quadzilla 15k – 7/17 –
Half Wit Half – 8/14 (Reading) – Website
Lehigh Gap Nature Center More or Less a 10k Trail Run – 10/8 (Slatington) –