I live a fairly structured life and lifestyle. I work an 8-5 tech job for a large outdoor retailer, am married with two children and am involved in various local organizations. Fitness is very important to me and with a family and a full time work schedule that often means riding the trainer during odd hours or suffering a little sleep to get a solid workout in. Luckily my wife is very supportive of me and my kids love to go hiking or spend the majority of their time outside as well. Whenever I’m given an opportunity to test out my training and break free from my “day job” I have a hard time saying no.
Most of my friends are involved in the outdoors in some fashion or another, whether it be biking, running, climbing or hiking. One of these friends is Elmo Snively.
I have known Elmo for about 11 years in one fashion or another. When we first met, we both had an energy that probably was not always safe to keep in one place at the same time. Luckily through growing up and meeting new people we both transformed that energy into something a bit more positive.
Elmo is a local endurance running “prodigy”. He is one of a handful of pioneers in our local area that has tackled 100 mile distance runs and now has moved on to even tougher ventures like completion of the Last Annual Vol. State 500k.
Elmo just moved back from the state of Tennessee and is in the process of starting a new job, becoming a father and settling into a new life. On the back burner He had been cooking for a while a run/hike from Altoona to Milheim Pennsylvania. The run didn’t originally have a name but through the evolution of a month or so it got the title “Brew to Brew 100k”
The B2B100K would start at Rail Road City Brewing in Altoona , Pa and stretch 62.2 miles of country roads to finish in the quaint town of Milheim, Pa at Elk Creek Cafe. The trek would be self supported and would be a straight thru (no extended stops) adventure.
Most people that know me are aware that I prefer to bike over running any day. But regardless I love being outside and pushing myself to see how far or how fast I can go at any discipline.
Last fall I completed Danny Chew’s Pittsburgh Dirty Dozen bike race(I still need to do a recap) and that experience taught me that I can pretty much handle anything as far as endurance goes.
But when Elmo proposed that I join him on the b2b100k I had my reservations. I hadn’t run more than 5 miles distance per run in about a year and the farthest I had ever run was 37 miles.
I think my biggest fear about the whole venture was stirring up a new injury or possibly irritating my meniscus.
On a side note, I am attempting the Crush The Commenwealth bike race on the 28th of April and I was nervous that this would put a kink in my performance for that.
Finally after giving it some thought, I knew I would benefit from b2b100k. A couple of things b2b would do:
- It would help me learn to function on little sleep (this will be a big deal at ctc)
- It would give me a chance for some r&r and a chance to meditate.
- Overnight adventures are the best!
- I was excited to catch up with Elmo and make some new memories.
I was in and committed. We had a few other friends that showed interest, but when you are talking about a event of this caliber people rarely toe the line.
We planned to leave on Thursday the 17th at 8:00 p.m. from Rail Road City and our goal was to arrive at Elk Creek before last call which would be 11:00 p.m.
I packed my hydration bag early that morning and laid out my clothes, headlamp, food, and knife for the trip. Another item I brought was a backup battery for my phone. Both the knife and battery came in handy on the trip.
I had originally taken off work that Thursday so after my wife got home from work we headed down to RRC to meet Elmo.
Not going to lie, I wasn’t feeling it. I had a migraine for a majority of that afternoon and I thought a nap would make it go away but I was wrong. Cayt said that the fresh air would probably help with the headache and she was right!
We arrived at RRC, Mikalee (Elmo’s Lady) and Elmo were there waiting, so I said my goodbyes to my family. Jordan ( a mutual friend) showed up as well and we had our maiden voyage beers.
Matt from RRC took our picture for the Facebook page and wished us good luck.
In hindsight, most of the people that we told about the trip either didn’t believe us or thought it was the most ridiculous thing they ever heard. Central Pennsylvania is not exactly an area where people break free from the mold or try to not be the status quo.
Some people even sit around all day and compute why people would want to be vegetarians.
Don’t get me wrong, recreational activities are on the rise in our area, but what we were doing was far from the norm.
B2B had begun, we headed out of town and everything was new. We were wearing bright colors and got alot of smiles and waves. I couldn’t believe it was really happening.
Elmo and I discussed prior to departing that we would keep running at a minimum because of my fear of injury, but as we made our way outside of Altoona and up Kettle Street we were making great time.
Our route had us on rt 45 for 75 percent of the event. Anyone that knows that route can tell you that there are a fair amount of blind spots and little to now shoulder to get off the road for approaching traffic. Luckily our departure at night kept the traffic levels at a minimum.
As we were heading up over Kettle and out of Altoona I was starting to feel much better we were making great time and were almost out of the windy part of the road when Elmo asked me if I had a knife in my pack. Part of Elmo’s shoe that reinforced the construction was actually rubbing his Achilles raw. After a couple of miles we took a quick stop and Elmo performed surgery on his shoe. We were back on the road and he said his foot felt much better. As I said, we were booking for the first part. I remember texting people letting them know we had already done 10 miles and were in the agriculturally rich part of rt 45.
The weather was crisp and cool as the night continued on. We had discussed that we thought it would be a benefit that the temps were cooler, but as we climbed down into Spruce Creek the temperature was starting to drain our energy.
I couldn’t believe it, but I had forgotten to pack my gloves. Elmo was generous enough to let me use his and that helped immensely. We made our first real stop at the tavern in spruce creek. I just got into fly fishing and anyone that is familiar with the area knows that it is home for some great trout streams. We both ate a cliff bar and in 5 minutes were back on out feet.
That whole valley has a strange feeling about it at night. I know two hundred to a thousand years ago that land was home to many native cultures. As we cruised onward with only the moonlight to light our steps, I felt like I was part of that culture and it made me sad how we have become so engulfed in “Necessities of convenience”.
The moon was bright that night and we rarely had to use our headlamps. We would use them to warn approaching cars of our presence, or to see the horse that scared the crap out of both us in Sinking Valley.
By now we were over twenty miles in and it was getting colder. The dexterity in our fingertips had long gone. We also were having problems with the gps bouncing around in the valley for a while. We got off course for about a mile but quickly realized our error and re-corrected.
The night for the most part was uneventful. We were stopped by two cars. The first group was a “gang” of individuals that were looking for an address. Elmo said that he thought they were on a paper route, but the large gold chains gracing their neck made me think otherwise. The other car were two lovebirds looking for Indian Outlook. First of all who looks for a lookout at 3 a.m. So I think they had other plans in mind!
We were approaching mile 30 and I’ll be honest my feet were killing me. I had never been on my feet for more than 9 hours running and we were approaching the 10 hr mark. I had plenty of energy, my legs felt strong, but every time I pushed my foot onto the pavement to take another step was excruciating pain. Another thing that didn’t make sense to me was that Elmo’s legs are shorter than mine but his walking gait was twice that of mine, Elmo was increasing the distance between he and I and I couldn’t make it up. I mentioned to him that and he told me he had a friend from Vol State that could walk just over 11:00 minute miles. I made a mental note that I need to decrease my cadence and increase my gait.
Elmo and I took a break and I decided that I needed to get something to eat, something warm that would give us a burst of energy. We both were cold and hopefully If I got something to eat I could get a second wind and make it to the finish. We turned off some Whitehall or some road I don’t remember the name of and headed to the land of a Unimart. Elmo told me there was a Unimart in 2-3 miles. The thought of gas station burritos at 5 a.m. appealed to me somehow and gave me the will to push.
Well that 2-3 miles turned into 5-6, then it turned into a cold headwind. We were approaching what I thought was mile 37 and I was done. Elmo was putting a huge distance between he and I and I could tell I wasn’t getting any better. My feet were bruised and in pain. I decided that I had given it a good effort but I would finish in State College instead of Milheim.
5 miles later we rolled into Unimart. I was done. we both got a coffee, a donut and a sandwich and just sat there trail buzzed and cold.
Because I dropped out I missed out on a food drop in boalsburg, but Sara was kind enough to let me have a voodoo ranger later that day anyway . HA!
Elmo later continued to finish the b2b100k at a time of 22hrs. When I uploaded my route my total mileage was 45 miles in 12 hrs and 7 minutes.
I had such a great time and since last weekend I can’t stop thinking of more multi day adventures I can get into.
Our friends Benjamin Mazur, Mikalee, Sara and her boyfriend Travis all joined in at Elk Creek later that evening to celebrate the day.
Ben got some vegetarian cuisine:
We later went to the groves house to play a couple racy rounds of speed darts! If you don’t know how to play ask Elmo to explain the rules.
Even though that day I became known as quitter Ben, I won. I can tell people I trekked from Altoona to State college overnight. I can tell people that I didn’t have any aid stations or assistance getting there. I didn’t have anyone but myself, a good friend and the open road.
Yeah, I would have loved to finish the entire course, but I gained alot of good memories that night and I learned alot about myself as well.
I could insert some thoughtful quote but all I have to say is… Don’t wait to live your life and don’t forget to switch things up sometime and take a chance on a new adventure.
And as cheesy as it sounds, its about the experience not the destination, so try something until you know you cannot fail.