Brophy’s Bucket

Without races or Wednesday Night Runs or my normal commute to Downingtown, I decided to check a few things off my “to do” list this month.

(1) Beat Shaun Luther’s FKT around Blue Marsh Lake: Right after reading Shaun’s cool article from last month’s newsletter, I knew I wanted to take up his challenge of recording an FKT circumnavigating Blue Marsh Lake. If I didn’t do it soon, I thought, someone much faster than me would do it, and the opportunity would be gone forever. So I looked at a few maps, did a little planning, and went out to make the attempt on April 5th–almost exactly a year after Shaun made his FKT run.

I started at the northern end of the lake, to get the State Game Land section out of the way first, and of course–having done zero recon of this area–I got turned around and a little lost. But once I was through, it was pretty smooth sailing (not literally–boats are not allowed) around the rest of the lake. I ended up edging out Shaun’s time by 8 minutes (a 20-mile route in 3:29:22).

(2) Peak-to-Peak: Whenever we would run up to Cushion Peak on a Wednesday Night Run, someone would always mention how neat it would be to do a “peak-to-peak” run from there to Mount Penn. From the Cushion Peak lookout, you can just barely make out Mount Penn’s Fire Tower in the distance–and it’s so inviting! Finally I found a morning to actually do it.

Embarrassing side note: I spent a long time trying to figure out where to park near Cushion Peak. I was planning on asking Yuriko to drive me back out there after completing the run, so I could get my car. Why did it take me SO LONG to realize it was much easier to have her drop me off at Cushion Peak, and then I could just run home after summiting Mt. Penn?

I did this one on April 11th — the full run was just under 16 miles and just under 3 hours. Pretty clear day, so nice views from both mountains.

(3) Pacing Gabrielle: Gabrielle Minarik, a Pottstown runner, signed up for a “virtual 50k” after Hyner (and everything else) was canceled, and she wanted to do it at Blue Marsh. She was a little nervous about getting off course, so she asked for a guide and some company. I roped Steve Vida into joining us, and we three spent the morning (and early afternoon) looping around the lake (without the short cuts this time), trying to give each other support but also plenty of space. Gabrielle got her 50k PR (6:19)!

(4) Radsport Virtual Climb Challenge: The Radsport Festival has already been canceled for this year, but to raise some money for the Reading Recreation Commission’s food service program, the festival organizers decided to create a series of challenges for runners and cyclists on Mt. Penn. Since that particular mountain is my home, I figured I’d give it a shot. This week, I posted times for the Trail Running event, the Road Bike event, and the Road Running event. (I don’t have a mountain bike, so that’s the one event I’m not doing.) All routes are short, tough climbs, starting near City Park (intersection of Clymer and Duryea) that go up the mountain. All except for the road run end at the Fire Tower. (The road run ends at the Pagoda.) My times weren’t amazing (I’ve never been a particularly fast climber), but I still had a lot of fun with each challenge.

Looking forward to more new challenges to keep solo running interesting (until life gets back to normal). Rumor has it that Brandon Beane is cooking up something pretty sweet…

–Matt Brophy

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