Northeast PA has a rich schedule of endurance racing events. Here is a list of 5 of the best. Some of these I have done, some I have not.
5. A Trail Run
Running on the road is one thing, running on a trail is another. No smooth black top roads here! Need to find your “rhythm” when you run? Care about your splits? Think that hill you run through your neighborhood is steep? The trail will laugh at you!
Trail running is a different beast than road running, including a different vibe in the participation circle. Definitely more relaxed folks seem to take up off road running. My own observations show you are 5.6 times more likely to see a bearded runner at a trail race than a road race (I should apply for a government grant to actually study this phenomenon).
Honestly, trail running is a great ying to road runnings yang. It’s way more mentally challenging as you must pick your lines wisely for optimum efficiency. It’s also a great workout to build core strength and gain hill climbing proficiency. Where better to trail run than our beautiful ridge and valley Appalachians?
Check out the Humdinger or the Pocono XTerra Series. The Pocono XTerra Series features some shorter distances if you are a newbie.
Like trail running, Cyclocross is more laid back and relaxed when compared to its asphalt brethren. You are 200 times more likely to fall in the mud in a ‘cross race than a road race.
Don’t be afraid to run what ya brung at a ‘cross race! The course is pretty dry? Ride your regular roadie. Only have a full suser? Bring it on and just have fun. These events will make you feel like a kid again!
Check out any of the races in the Central PA Cyclocross Series. I would tell you to surely check out the Fire and Ice race, but my legal counsel advised me against it considering it’s at night in the dead of winter (complete insanity).
3. Giant’s Dispair
1.1 miles long, 650 ft of elevation gain, and up to 22% grades, you can choose between your running sneakers or bike to take on the challenge.
Some interesting trivia: Course is also used for an auto race. With names such as Chevrolet, Penske, and Shelby, the course is oozing with history.
2. Steamtown Marathon
The Steamtown Marathon is consistently mentioned in national publications as a great event. It’s good for beginners and relatively fast.
1. Run for the Diamonds
Although the Run for the Diamonds is overshadowed by the Steamtown Marathon in national prominence, nothing can top the history, tradition, and crowds at the Run for the Diamonds. It has been run 102 times (always Thanksgiving morning), and is the 4th oldest race in America. Made famous for Summerhill at mile 2, the cool thing about this race is it can be sunny and 70 degrees, or 10 degrees and spitting sleet. As mentioned above, the crowds are amazing. No better way to earn that extra helping of pumpkin pie than this 9 mile race. If you win, yes, you actually get a diamond.
As you can see, there is no limit to the type of event available to compete in NEPA/CPA. From a nationally recognized marathon to a ‘cross race at night, there is no excuse not to get out and train for one of these events.