Strong runners set to compete for national titles at Tussey Mountainback

Press release written by Mike Casper, Race Director, Tussey Mountainback.  Photo above from  Tussey Mountainback meets ATRA’s event standards

STATE COLLEGE, PADavid Roche and Megan Roche, aka “the first couple of trail running,” will try to make their marks on the roads of Rothrock State Forest on Oct. 8 at the 18th annual edition of the Tussey Mountainback, which again will serve as the USA Track & Field 50-mile championship race.

The challenging, loop course, comprised mostly of dirt and gravel roads, starts and ends at the Tussey Mountain Ski Area in Boalsburg.

The Roches, of California, have each won multiple USATF national titles on the trails in their careers, achieving top performances in distances from 10 to 50 kilometers. David Roche will be the featured speaker at the event’s pre-race dinner on Oct. 7 at Toftrees Golf and Resort Hotel.

While this will be their first 50-miler, another pair of Tussey newcomers are aiming to make it a clean sweep of the distance in 2017. Chris Raulli (New York) and Danielle Filipek (Michigan) captured the titles at the USATF 50-mile trail championships in Ithaca, N.Y., in June, before turning their attention to the Oct. 8 road championships.

Charles Joslyn, (Pennsylvania) was the runner-up at the 2016 USATF 50K road championships and has won titles at the Steamtown and Harrisburg marathons.

Men’s title contenders also include Anthony Kunkel (Colorado), who was the runner-up at the 2015 Door County Fall 50-Miler in Wisconsin, turning in an impressive time of 5:38:13.

Elizabeth Howard (Texas), two-time winner of the Leadville 100 Trail Run, is expected to have a spring in her step on Sunday with the relative lower altitude, shorter distance and cooler temps.

The top returnees from last year’s race are Justyna Wilson (Bensalem, Pa.) and Anna Zielaski (California) who finished second and third overall, respectively, in the women’s division, and three-time winner Connie Gardner (Ohio).

Matt Flaherty owns the Tussey course record (5:28:11) from his victory in 2013. The women’s course record is 6:24:01, also set in 2013, by Cassie Scallon.

This year’s prize purse is more than $5,000.

Information about the relay and ultramarathon event is available at

Proceeds from the Mountainback event support the Jana Marie Foundation, a local nonprofit agency whose goal is to empower young people, especially young women, to make positive choices, practice self-respect, and maintain healthy relationships by providing opportunities for personal growth and creative expression.

The Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau is a major sponsor of the Mountainback event. Sponsors of the event also include CaliKline, of RE/MAX Centre Realty, Subway Restaurants, Wegmans, Appalachian Outdoors, The Bicycle Shop, East Coast Health & Fitness, McClarren Financial Advisors, Nittany Valley Running Club, Rapid Transit Sports, The Sign Stop and Tussey Mountain Family Fun Center.

For more information, call 814-424-1314 or send email to [email protected] For information about the Jana Marie Foundation, visit