Course record threatened in Tussey ultramarathon
Tara Murray For the CDT
The natural beauty of Rothrock State Forest will be the backdrop for elite running competition as the Tussey Mountainback 50-Mile Relay and Ultramarathon hosts the USA 50 Mile Championships today.
While last year’s husband-and-wife winners, Mark and Anne Lundblad, won’t return to defend their titles, a strong men’s field is set to compete for the title and possibly threaten the course record of 5 hours, 53 minutes, 37 seconds set in 2004 by Chad Ricklefs.
The Tussey Mountainback, now in its ninth year, is hosting the USA 50 Mile Championships for the fourth time. The event has come a long way since its first year, when 15 relay teams and one lone ultra completed the course. This year, a record 89 ultra runners and 94 relay teams are set to tackle the Mountainback’s hilly 50 miles.
The race starts and finishes at the Tussey Mountain Ski Area in Boalsburg. Ultras start at 7 a.m. and relay teams, comprised of two to eight runners, start in waves beginning at 8 a.m. The course traverses gravel and paved roads through Whipple Dam State Park, Alan Seeger Natural Area, Penn Roosevelt State Park, Colyer Lake and Bear Meadows Natural Area with a total elevation gain of 5,035 ft.
The 2007 Mountainback saw some close competition in the men’s division, with runner-up Eric Grossman and winner Mark Lundblad neck-and-neck even in the final segments of the course.
“The men’s competition will be just as fierce this year,” said race director Mike Casper.
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