On Saturday, May 11, more than 800 runners descended upon Pennypack Park, Pennsylvania with the majority running the 25K distance in the trifecta of races offered by Uberendurancesports at the Dirty German Endurance Fest. The finish line, complete with a Lederhosen-clad accordion player and a buffet of brats and sauerkraut, welcomed 444 finishers in the 25K, 216 in the 50K and 122 in the 50 Mile.
Located about 20 miles from downtown Philadelphia, Pennypack Park – whose name derives from the Lenni Lenape Indian word for slow-moving water – offers 1,600 acres of woodlands, meadows, wetlands and fields. A figure eight course run once by the shorter distance, twice for the 50K and three times (plus a little loop to add extra distance) for the 50 miler included a variety of terrain featuring short stints on bike paths, single track terrain weaving in and out of the forest, and several creek crossings.
Stephen Tucker, 36, Chester, PA, was first to the finish line timed in 1:45:12 for the 25K win. “It was my first time on this course,” said Tucker who started trail running in 2011. “I loved it. The rolling hills, the varied terrain with some road and single track provided a mix of everything.”
Tucker ran the first five miles with eventual fifth-place finisher Tommy McClellan, 23, Gloversville, NY, and was then alone the rest of the way. Tucker’s favorite part of the course was the tight single track. “Even though you have to pass people, it’s a fun part of the course.”
Likewise, master’s winner in the women’s field Sue Friedrich (pictured top of page), 40, Wilmington, Delaware, enjoyed the varied course. “It’s a good mix of single track, pavement – which I like because I run roads – and it was well-marked,” said Friedrich who represents the Runner’s High Delaware Running Club and is a Oiselle Volée. Friedrich finished in a time of 2:22:51, placing her fourth among the women. Emily Pronchik, 27, Philadelphia, was the overall female winner timed in 2:08:42.
Alan Sunners, 58, Coopersburg, PA, averaged 12 minutes per mile enroute to his first-ever trail race finish and his longest run to date. His time of 3:07:04 placed him 134th among the 210 finishers in the men’s division and 23rd in his age group. “I started running on the roads in 2015, primarily to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle,” said Sunners who has shed 65 pounds since his foray into the sport. “I decided I had to move more and eat less.”
“Today went great. I felt good up until mile 13, then I had to walk/run the last three miles,” said Sunners. “I felt comfortable starting out. I wasn’t worried about the distance since I had raced a half marathon on the roads a few weeks ago, but I knew I’d be way off my pace since this was on trails.”
“For the first five miles, I felt like a kid dancing through the woods,” continued Sunners. “The second five miles, my lower limbs started making themselves know due to the difference in terrain. I had a half dozen rolled ankles today, but none serious so I kept pressing on. I’m also not used to the soft ground…sinking into the pseudo-mud was something new. Because of the figure eight course, we got to a point where runners were coming the other direction towards us. I was surprised because I was so focused on my footing. That was actually something new to me in a race – people coming at me on single track.”
Sunners offered advice for other first-time trail racers. “Let your pace change as the terrain changes from ascents to descents, width of the trail, and natural obstacles. A road race is like a metronome, but in a trail race your feet are all over the place – every step is a different foot plant. Train on trails to be better prepared for the terrain. Have fun with it.”
Summing up his experience, Sunners said, “Trail running provides a far more relaxed atmosphere than a road race. We were all out just having a good time in the woods.”
Other winners on the day included 50K champions Sam Wallis, 27, Philadelphia, timed in 4:17:19, and Melissa Reifsnyder, 46, Downington, PA, with a time of 4:55:44. In the 50 Mile, it was Matt Collins, 28, Philadelphia, in 7:39:08, and Erin Williams, 44, Manquin, VA, in 7:54:11.
Complete race results are available at: http://www.2lraceservices.com/results_2019.html
If you are thinking about entering next year’s Dirty German on May 9, 2020, register earlier as the event fills to capacity well in advance of race day.