VHTRC Web site logo
  Home | News | BRR | MMT | WHM | Search | Contact

Sean Andrish Breaks Tuscarora Trail Record

Jump to Updates | Chart with Times | Photos on Flickr

Photo of Sean's Feet
The Run Is Over!

Sean Did It! At 11:08 PM, Saturday night, 89 hours and 8 minutes after he started, Sean Andrish completed the Tuscarora Trail and set a new record. Mike Schuster, Mike Mason, and Kerry Owens were with him at the finish. Sean was in good sprits and happy to be done.

From Joe Clapper:

As one of the few people that can fully appreciate Sean's historic accomplishment, I would like to congratulate him for a truly amazing run. Sean was tested repeatedly by the Tuscarora trail and the logistics of running for three days and he prevailed dramatically.

When I read the reports on day two that his spirits were high, I knew he had the record. I can't imagine my record falling to a nicer guy. With pride I will take second best to steel willed Sean.

Joe Clapper

From Kerry Owens:

The highlight of the adventure for me was the last section from 340. Sean, Mike Mason, Mike Schuster and I all ran together. What an incredible climb with incredible views! (even in the dark) Sean was absolutely amazing. Mike Schuster and I both had to push ourselves pretty hard up the climb to keep ahead of Sean's pace. While my heart and lungs were working pretty hard, Sean's limitations were more his blistered feet, tired legs, and enormously swollen ankle. Otherwise, he made it look easy. He was keeping a pace after 250 miles that many ultrarunners would have had trouble maintaining even on fresh legs.

Editor's Note: This run proved many things. First, it demonstrated that Sean Andrish is one of the toughest fast trail runners of our day. It also showed that Joe Clapper's run was pretty impressive. Joe was never as fast a runner as Sean is, but Sean was behind Joe's pace until the final portions of the trek when Sean took off and Joe had gotten lost and then deteriorated to walking.

This run also proved what a wonderful but imposing resource the Tuscarora Trail is. If you don't think the trail is tough, just ask Sean.

Trails are meant to be travelled. Records are secondary. What was important about this undertaking is that a team of individuals made a trip on the entire Tuscarora Trail. By all accounts, it was a great adventure, and those of us who watched enjoyed it.

Congratulations, Sean and all his crew!


On April 12, Sean Andrish and Mike Schuster set out to break the record for a run of the 252 mile Tuscarora Trail. Joe Clapper currently holds the record, having run the trail in 3 days, 22 hours, 27 minutes in 2000. See: the report.

Sean and Mike started at the trail's northern end in Pennsylvania and ran south. After the fist day, Mike became a crew/pacer and it became Sean's record attempt. They stopped each night to rest before setting out the next day though they did not always find comfortable accommodations. Several friends supported Sean along the way including Steve Core, Steve Burton, Mike Mason, and Kerry Owens.

The southern end of the trail is at the Appalachian Trail on the top of Hogback Mountain in the Shenandoah National Park. The trail passes through four states. It is used much less than the Appalachian Trail and not as well maintained.

The schedule Sean maintained is below. Also below, are the updates that were posted during the run.

Live Updates -- Saturday

7:15 PM: Mike called from the Veach Gap Trailhead. They had just arrived. Kerry had met them. Not much other discussion. It is likely I won't hear from them until tomorrow, but my guess is that Sean will finish around midnight.

4 PM: Kerry called from Front Royal. Sean is doing great. Schuster and Kerry ran back from Elizabeth Furnace with aid and met Sean about three mile up the hill. They then ran down to the parking lot where Sean stayed 18 minutes. (Hey, it was his first real aid station all day!)

Sean is now on the Massanutten East Ridge. Mike Schuster is with him. Kerry will leave her car at Route 340 and run back to meet them. Mike Mason will leave his car at the end (near Hogback Mountain in the Shenandoah National Park) and run back too. Everyone wants to run with Sean. Note the operative word -- run. While he is walking the uphills, Sean is still running. Joe was not running at this point.

The last part of the trail is all uphill. So it is hard to predict a finishing time. If it's before 10 PM and they call me, I will have it here. Otherwise, it will be here in the morning.

1:35 PM: Belatedly listened to a voice mail from Kerry. She confirmed that Sean is flying and that they have missed him so far all day. As she put it with a laugh, "Sean has the world's worst crew." She then noted that "maybe you shouldn't put that on the Internet." Unfortunately, we have strict journalistic standards and we publish "all the news that fits" without fear or favor unless we get bought off with beer. In any event, I am sure that Sean would not agree with Kerry's assessment of his crew. It was his fault anyway. If he hadn't run so darn fast....

1:20 PM: Mike called. Proving that Murphy's Law follows you around when you do something like this, Sean's crew missed him at Cedar Creek. They also missed him at Route 11, though some bystander apparently gave him some water. Mike Mason is running with him but it does not appear that he has had aid from his crew all day. Kerry and Mike are hurrying to Elizabeth Furnace to catch him there. Sean and Mike Mason are flying.

If someone has to get lost and breaking the record is your goal, it's better it be your crew and not you. So Sean is in great position to not only break Joe's record but also to set a heck of a time to beat in the future.

PA Rocky Section

9:10 AM: Just a comment on the trail. Alan Gowen sent a message that included the following:

"I've been watching ... Sean's updates. In doing so, I reviewed the reports from Joe's run. I laughed out loud when I read the update during Joe's run that had come from Scott. They had just come through the 14.5 mile section from PA Rt. 16 to PA Rt 456. Scott said he had never ever anywhere seen trail as bad and rocky as this section. For about 5 years I was the overseer for this section of trail and have spent many days out there, hiked it many, many times and "run" it many more. I concur."

Here is section what Alan was referring to:

Scott Mills called me this morning to report on yesterday [March 10, 2000]. Scott said (more less), "In 22 years of running on trails, I never been on trails that bad. This is worse than Hardrock or Short Mountain. This is un____ing believable." Scotty said the rocks were pointed, loose, and difficult to navigate. They fell several times and Scott thought he had broken something for awhile. To add insult to injury, Scott had a flat tire on the way home.

9 AM: Steve Core sent an e-mail that said, "They stopped about 11 last night, and I know that Kerry and Mike were like the Calvary showing up for Sean. He was having a very tough afternoon until they showed up and picked up his spirits dramatically."

They will soon be in territory that is familiar to many of us. They are now in the territory of the Big Schloss. They will then go through Fetzers Gap and cross the valley and the North Fork to the Massanuttens. They do not go through Powell's Fort, but stay on the ridge. They do go through Elizabeth Furnace, Little Crease, and Veach Gap. They then have some road miles before the eight miles up the hill to Hogback Mountain in the Shenandoah National Park. If you compare Joe's times at this point, realize that he was not moving very fast by the time he got to the Massanuttens.

Mike's caption was "Rolling Past Gore." It appears to look east into the Shenandoah Valley

8 AM: Mike called to report on the rest of yesterday and last night. When he and Sean got to Lowman's Gap, Steve Burton was not there. He was at another location. So they went on. Apparently, they went quite awhile until Mike Mason caught up to them. They finally got to Waites Run at 10:35 PM. At Kerry's insistence, they went to the Super 8 in Front Royal, sleeping from 11:40 to 4:40. Sean woke everyone up and they were running at 6:02.

Mike indicated that at one point it was rainy and 59 degrees. Shades of Bull Run? No. The only problem was the slick rocks and soon it got warm again.

Mike reported that Sean is in good spirits. He has to finish by 4:27 AM tomorrow morning to beat Joe. He should be able to do that, but it will be a long haul today.

Live Updates -- Friday

1:30 PM: From an e-mail from Mike Burton:

Sean's still running strong. He ran the first section today solo from Hampshire Grade Rd to Silver VA (136.6 - 147).

Mike Schuster joined him at Silver Va and ran with Sean to Gore Va in 2 hours & 27 minutes. They are currently running the section from Gore to Loman Branch together. They left Gore in the rain @ 11:25.

Sean is a strong runner, he continues to look well even after this mileage and his spirits are up.

Kerry should be joining us around 4-5 tonight. Still hope to make it to Cedar Creek tonight.

Noon: This from Joe Clapper who is watching closely: "He is about an 1 1/2 hours behind me BUT I took a long break in Gore and got lost after Waites. He has the record if he stays on trail."

Photo of Sean and Mike
Who is having more fun? Mike takes a picture of the two of them on Friday morning.
Photo: Mike Schuster

11:30 AM: Mike called in as he was running with Sean. They got into and out of Gore fine. It is raining now, however.

Mike will quit running with Sean at Lowman Branch were Steve Burton will take over. Mike noted that the picture of blue bells that he sent and that is on the Flickr site was taken near the PA-MD border (the Mason-Dixon Line).

8 AM: No more calls last night and none yet this morning, but my e-mail in box was full. (Well, it is always full, but this time there were Tuscarora Trail messages in among the messages that want to help me with a certain dysfunction.)

Both Steve Core and Mike Schuster sent me several pictures. They are on the Flickr site.

Steve sent the following note with the pictures:

"I'm tired, and I was only there to watch. Courtney was an incredible help on some very tough stretches Wed. I know that Mike running with him early yesterday picked up his pace (and spirits a great deal). Steve ran a lot last night, which was a great help to get him in before midnight. They did get lost for about a half an hour though.

Talked to Mike [this morning, I presume], He left at 6am on the dot............ Miserable night AGAIN.. had to sleep in Steve's Jetta because of rain......

Live Updates -- Thursday

Sean Andrish
Sean Andrish
Photo: Mike Schuster

7 PM: Mike called to say that Sean had done the nine miles to WV 9 in 2:08. He stopped 11 minutes and was off. He plans to stop at Hampshire Grade Road, which is 17 more miles. I may get one more report tonight.

4:15 PM: Mike called to report. He had run 17 miles with Sean in about three hours. Sean had gotten to Hancock and promptly took a 28 minute nap. His handlers woke him up and told him that was all the nap he got.

Mike complained of the heat. It got to 81 degrees today. (This complaint will have a special irony to those who participated in Bull Run Run last weekend.)

They have now finished two states and have two to go. Sean is in West Virginia now and will be in Virginia soon, only to go back into West Virginia. His goal is Hampshire Grade Road by midnight. Mike promised one more report this evening.

3 PM: Arrived back home to two voice messages from Steve Core. The section into PA 456 had been difficult and, at time, unrunnable. The next section, to the C&O Canal, had been much better. There were some knee-deep streams, but otherwise, Sean made good time. He did nine miles in 91 minutes. He is on the C&O Canal Towpath itself at this point. (Or was when I started writing this.) It is not Sean's favorite kind of running, but it is the fastest.

Photo of Courtney and Mike
Courtney and Sean arriving at Hemlock Road on the first day. Photo: Steve Core

Steve Core will leave the group and Steve Burton will take over crew duties. He will also run with Sean tonight.

Heard from Joe Clapper. He is following Sean with great interest. Joe pointed out that, with Derrick Carr's accompaniment, he ran well through this section. He reminded, however, that he became very lost a couple of times later in Virginia. So while Sean is still two hours behind Joe's pace, he has a very good chance at the record if he doesn't get lost and doesn't slow to a walk.

9:30 AM: Mike called to report. Sean and Courtney quit last night a 11:41 PM at Cowans Gap State Park (69+ miles). After an adventure finding a hotel, they just slept in their cars. Sean started this morning at 6:04.

Courtney did not come back this morning so Sean is now out there alone. Mike will be running with him some today, but it's all a Sean performance now.

Sean is roughly two hours behind Joe's pace. But Sean had more sleep last night. There is still a long way to go!

Live Updates -- Wednesday

Photo of Sean and Mike
Sean and Mike

9:00 PM: Mike called. He had stopped at 54 miles. He had kept up for quite awhile, but Sean and Courtney were pulling away and he couldn't keep up.

Mike was effusive about Joe Clapper. He kept saying, "Joe Clapper was f'ing amazing." Sean and Courtney are about a half hour behind Joe's pace. There is a long way to go, but so far, the old guy is looking pretty good.

It is unclear how long Courtney will hang in there. He had expected foot problems but so far, he is feeling fine.

I expect another report tomorrow morning.

6:45 PM: Steve called to say that he is waiting at PA 641 for the arrival of the boys. Sean and Courtney are in good spirits and doing great. Mike is, apparently, laboring a bit to keep up. (Editor's note: If you were trying to keep up with Sean and Courtney, you would labor too.)

They are planning to go "only" to US 30. They are also talking about a real bed as opposed to sleeping bags.

Sean Andrish on early stretch of Tuscarora Trail

1:05 PM: Just a note to say that, so far, they are a bit behind Joe's schedule. There is a long way to go, of course, but Joe is no slouch and it will take some effort to beat his record.

12:45: Steve Core called from Cowpens Road where he expects them in a couple of hours. They arrived at Col. Denning State Park, about 25 miles into the run, at 11:48. They are doing well and have great weather. Courtney Campbell is with them, so it is a fairly elite group.

The plan to go to about 78 miles today and expect it to take about 18 hours. They will then grab a few hours sleep and get going around 6:00 AM tomorrow morning.

Through the wonders of modern technology, Mike sent the two pictures on this page. I expect more updates as the run wears on.


Check Point Miles from Last Point Miles from Start Miles to Go Arrival
In/Out Where Available
Appalachian Trail - PA 0 0 252.1 Wednesday, April 12
Steve Core
PA 34 2.5 2.5 249.6
Steve Core
PA 74 10 12.5 239.6 8:45 AM Steve Core
Col. Denning State Park (PA 233) 12.4 24.9 227.2 11:48 AM Steve Core
Cowpens Rd. 8.6 33.5 218.6 1:48/1:59 PM Steve Core
Hemlock Rd. 8.8 42.3 209.8 4:19/4:33 PM Steve Core
PA 641 11.6 53.9 198.2 7:10 PM Steve Core
Cowans Gap State Park 15.8 69.7 182.4 11:14 PM
Stop for Night
Steve Core
US 30 6.8 76.5 175.6 8:03 AM (Thurs) Steve Core
PA 16 1.9 78.4 173.7 8:38 AM Steve Core
PA 456 14.5 92.9 159.2 12:26/12:36 PM Steve Core / Steve Burton
C&O Canal 9 101.9 150.2 2:07 PM Steve Core / Steve Burton
Hancock, MD 7.9 109.8 142.3 3:34/4:02 PM Steve Core / Steve Burton
WV 9 9.6 119.4 132.7 6:10/6:21 PM Steve Burton
Hampshire Grade Rd. 17.2 136.6 115.5 11:36/6:00 PM/AM (Stop for Night) Steve Burton
Siler, VA (VA 600) 10.4 147 105.1 8:45 AM
Steve Burton
Gore, VA (VA 751) 11.9 158.9 93.2 11:15/11:25 AM Steve Burton
Loman Branch 13.5 172.4 79.7 3:15/3:15 PM Steve Burton
Route 55 14.6 187 65.1 7:42/7:47 PM Steve Burton
Waites Run Road 12.5 199.5 52.6 11:35/6:02 PM/AM (Stop for Night) Steve Burton
Cedar Creek (FDR 1863) 8.8 208.3 43.8 ~8:20 AM Steve Burton / Kerry Owens
Mauertown (US 11) 11.6 219.9 32.2 11:02/11:07 AM Steve Burton / Kerry Owens
Elizabeth Furnace 13.5 233.4 18.7 3:30/3:48 PM Kerry Owens
Veach Gap Trailhead 10.8 244.2 7.9 7:13 PM Kerry Owens
US 340 3.9 248.1 4 8:20/8:22 PM Kerry Owens / Mike Mason
Appalachian Trail - VA 7.6 255.7 -3.6 11:08 PM Kerry Owens / Mike Mason

Back to the News Page

Virginia Happy Trails Running Club
Home | News | Events | About the VHTRC | Members Only | Features
Bull Run Run 50 | Massanutten Mt. Trails 100 | Training Runs | Links