Hyner 50k race report
Would I recommend this course? IT WAS A BLAST. And a real trail race. I say real because I never ran a trail race like this – super technical and 6,000 feet of gain? If that sounds like it’s up your alley, then go for it!!! I’d sure as hell do it again, and have worlds end 100k coming up (That’s double the distance and double the climbs)
The 50k starts at 8 am on Saturday morning in a huge field. 9650 Renovo Rd, Hyner PA 17738
We’re allowed to camp at the start/ finish on Friday and Saturday night for a small fee. This was super convenient and lots of people took advantage of this, including us.
We have a Honda CRV, took the seats out the back, and built a small bed platform. We’ve had the car this way for a few years now it feels like. From our road trip around America for 6 months back in 2020, to a few shorter trips in between – we’re always ready to go, plus we don’t drive anyone else really and it’s a lot easier to put the pooch in the back with the set up this way. Some people had dope setups, and others pitched a tent!
The vibes at the start/finish campsites were really chill, check-in was smooth, we hung out, had some good convos and food, and enjoyed ourselves. No real rowdiness, lots of respect, and real ultra vibes.
Rain was on the forecast, and on Friday it started to come down a little bit. Some People get butt hurt about the rain coming on Race Day – who cares though? Yeah, it’s slippery, yeah we’ll get wet, we probably aren’t hitting a PR…
But it’s still a great time either way. Being out on the trails pushing ourselves with 1,500 other people – it doesn’t really matter if it’s raining! To me anyway.
I used Friday to prepare my pack, pin my bib, talk strategy, and get 1,000% ready so that in the morning I could just warm up, gear up, and get out there. We actually came to the area the day before (Thursday) and drove up to Hyner view state park (the first big climb at mile 3). This was worth its weight in gold, really gave me time to take it all in, calm the nerves, and scope the area out (we stayed at Hyner state park on Thursday night)
PS. Hyner view state park has that name for a reason, the views are incredible.
Something I didn’t realize was how big the mountains would be. I trained on a quarter-mile hill with 100 feet of vert, these mountains were HUGE. 1,300-foot climbs. I understood that it would take 20 to 30 minutes to climb these bad boys and that put my unease at bay, just one step at a time and I’ll get to the top. It was the sheer massiveness that kind of shook me for a second though.
On Friday morning I did a little course recon and was surprised at how technical the trail would be, rocks and roots and rocks.
In the moment it felt like the start time was so far away but looking back, night came pretty quick, we slept like babies, and next thing you know it was morning time.
6 am woke up, it was still a tad dark, birds chirping, no real noise.
I started to wash up, warm up, and gear up.
My pre-race meal consisted of a smoothie elixir with 1000 mg of sodium, a liter of coconut water, and a sip or two of black coffee – this worked magic and cleared my bowels entirely.
The next thing I knew was that it was 7:45 and I had to make my way to the start, 8 am was coming FAST. Met up with a fellow homie who was running the race.
A few minutes later, the RD gave a little talk, and someone sang the national anthem which gave chills up and down my spine. That was such a cool experience, it made the event feel bigger or something.
Less than one minute to start and a Hyner vet came up to us and said “Get out of this start line FAST you don’t want to get bottlenecked on that first climb, it’ll eat up 30 or 40 minutes.”
*BOOM* and we were off. 600 runners for the 50k.
I settled in around 50th place or so, and made it up that climb with no bottlenecking.
Right off the jump, I knew most of the runners were going way too hard. They were RUNNING up the first 1,000 + ft climb at mile 3…
Their heart rate was through the roof and they didn’t give their bodies time to get into “run mode”
The gameplan for me was to keep my heart rate around 155 – hike the uphills efficiently, jog the flats, and hit the downhills as hard as possible. Often I’d walk the flats for a few minutes after a climb to let my heart rate drop down to around 150 (I wore the polar H2 heart rate monitor)
There was a bell on that first climb, two years ago a local legend was running this race, and at the top of the climb, passed away. The bell is a remembrance for him, and damn near every runner rang that fucking bell. Brings chills over my entire body just writing this.
There were tons of ambulances at the top of this climb too.
There’s always that other side of the coin and worst case that’s death. It can come to any one of us at any time, walking around with that thought in your pocket make life seem a little lighter.
The aid stations were spread out about every 4 miles or so, I blew past a couple to keep my time down. During the race I ate (drank?) tailwind (3 baggies of 400 calories), a few clementines, only one gu, and a liter of water an hour with only 2 pee stops – this really helped my time.
The views were breathtaking, I even took a few seconds to take it all in on the summits.
There was shin deep stream crossing too at around miles 9 and 20? Something like that. Nice and cold, woke you up, but that means your shoes were soaking wet – nothing we can do about it and kept going. This is one of the reasons on why having a nice pair of moisture wicking socks is so beneficial. My feet didn’t get messed up at all this race.
Some of the descents were so steep that runners slide and fell down them, bashing elbows, some where going backward on all fours. I kind of just skipped down it, side to side with a hand behind me on the steep parts and bombed it when I could.
The front half of the race had some BIG climbs, it took me about 3 hours to get to the halfway mark. I remember asking a few runners, is the back half as long as the front? Because if so I was screwed on my goal time.
Most of them said yeah, one runner said the back half is easier and I found that to be true because I ran the back half in about two and a half hours vs the three hours on the front half.
The biggest difference between the front half of the course and the back half of the course? The climbs.
The front half seemed to have longer climbs, 1,000+ feet with no crazy descends.
The back half had two MAJOR descends of 1,000+ feet 11% grade – this caused some pain for me as I was running these downhills hard at about a 7:00 pace. Not bad pain, just like wow this hurts – I don’t know if I’d run them this fast if it wasn’t a race.
The course runs kind of like a figure 8, I missed a turn for a few feet but luckily saw a runner in the distance to the right of me and got back on track, 3 or 4 other runners missed that same turn.
It was a weird turn, we were on a trail and had to veer off across that shin-deep creek back the way we came.
Being lost on a course is no fun at all.
I caught up to that runner who ‘helped me’ get unlost and it turns out he was a Hyner vet having completed it more than 5 times. I was confident we were going the right way. We got to talking and this dude was a legend, having completed four 200-mile races!
He gave me a heads up on what the course has in store: “You’ll climb up SOB, it’s steep but short, then you’ll have about two miles of the flat ridge line to a looong downhill, then across the bridge and it’s all over”
I told him that downhill is going to break me.
“Keep your nose on the grindstone, grit your teeth, and get it done – your almost there – you look springy too, don’t let me hold you up keep going”
And within a few minutes, we broke our ways. (I ran that downhill descent #2 in 5:31, 8th overall all-time on the strava leader boards lol I hit it haaaard. Thanks, brother.)
The 25k and 50k courses intertwine at some point, which is a love-hate on single-track trail, but most of the runners will get out of the way if you’re coming in hot.
I finished the race in 5:37:00 and left it all out there.
Would I do it again? Fuck yes.
Onto World’s end 100k, the second race out of four of the black list series.
Thanks, PA Trail Dogs.