Holy Cowan's Gap 50k+
Entry limited to 75
Date: May 29th, 2016 (Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend)
7:30 am start at Cowan's Gap State Park
RDs: Alisa Springman and Sue Malone (Contact Alisa)
Those applying should know that alternate names suggested were: "Screw the Switchbacks", "Tuscarora Trail Terror", and "FIT (F***ing Insane Trails)."
Because of the difficult and technical nature of much of the course, all interested runners must have completed at least one ultramarathon prior to registering. This requirement is in our agreement with the state of Pennsylvania.
Sean Andrish and Brian Schmidt set the men's course record of 5:33 in 2014. Martha Nelson set the women's course record of 6:11 when she won the race outright in 2011.
Description: The course will primarily travel the Tuscarora Trail, with use of many side trails (including Standing Stone and Link Trails) to make sure there is enough elevation gain. A few intersecting trails will be marked, but you will need to know how to follow a turn sheet (and read a map). There are some rocky sections on the Tuscarora, but much of the trail will be runnable. Most notable will be the absence of switchbacks to get up or down Cove Mountain.
The course was shortened in 2011 (bringing it closer to an honest 50K) but the elevation gain and loss remained approximately the same as the original course. It has been run the same way, north loop first, south loop second, since 2011.
The course will be marked, but participants will need to carry a turn sheet and map. Aid will be provided at five to six stations on the course. A pavilion has been rented for the start/finish. Individual campsites can be reserved at Cowan's Gap. Please plan on sticking around after the race to celebrate your achievement with a great barbeque.
In 2010, Brian McNeill wrote:
"Congratulations on your inaugural Cowan's Gap ultra. There were a few minutes where I stopped to second-guess my navigation choices, but I was never off-course. It was minimally but very effectively marked. More than one should ever expect for a FA run. The aid stations were superb and the volunteers cheerful and helpful. It shows that a great ultra can be put on without W$ sized entry fees.
"For those of you who weren't there, here's a synopsis: The course was a broad mix of trail-running conditions. There were sections that reminded me of Laurel Highlands (ferns and more ferns), Catoctin (rocks), MMT (wet rocks), Highlands Sky (blooming mountain laurel and azaelas), and Buzzards (we don' need no stinkin' switchbacks on our climbs) all packed into 33 and a half miles.
"This was a PR for me, i.e. it was by far my slowest 50K ever, and close to my best times for 50 miles. I mentioned the course design to Sue's husband at his aid station. His comment was 'you have to understand that the course was designed by two crazy women.'
"Thanks again for your hospitality and for calling our attention to your home-course."