by Jason Karpinski
April 23, 2022
To say my first Hyner 50k experience was unique is an understatement. My day started bright and early around 3:45 a.m. with a shower. Michelle and I left at half past 4 (as planned) with an ETA of 7:27 a.m. All was going smoothly, and my mind was at ease…until my low tire pressure light switched on somewhere in the neighborhood of Minersville. One quick stop at a nearby Sheetz turned quickly to panic when their air pump was out of order, and I was able to put a dent in my tire with little effort. Frantically, I found a nearby Sunoco which was a mere 2.5 miles away. Unfortunately, as many of you may know, Pottsville’s roads are fairly unforgiving. Every bump in the road felt like a cramping hamstring (more of that to come later in the day). After paying $2 to attempt filling my tire, I faced the seemingly daunting task of changing my first flat tire. Luckily the donut was in good shape, and we were quickly back on the road.
Our ETA was now 8:02.
Did I mention that the race start was scheduled to start at 8:00??
Several deep breaths were needed to calm myself down to a reasonable level. The temptation to hit the gas was overwhelming; however, the desire to arrive safely was even greater. All was well, and I was confident I would be able to start a couple minutes late, even if it meant pleading graciously with RD, Craig Fleming. As our trip progressed, I proceeded to calm further, that is, until we hit a stretch of 45 miles on US-220. Since we had to limit our speed to 50 mph on the donut, we realized the ETA on my GPS app wasn’t accurate, as we saw it tick later and later. I felt my anxiety growing and growing.
By the time we arrived at 9650 Renovo Rd in North Bend, PA, it was nearly 8:30. By now I was significantly less confident I would even be given the chance to start the race. My saving grace was that the 25k started at 9 and there were already designated cut-off times which would force me to switch my race regardless.
Upon scrambling to find the appropriate personnel to get my bib (#1913), I was sent to find my way to the start line and officially start my race day. As the miles ticked away, I traversed the many named trails along the way: Carl’s Way, Humble Hill, Post Draft, Johnson Way, S.O.B., and Huff Run. During my miles I had the fortune of seeing many familiar faces and meeting many others. Luckily, my legs carried me through the miles with general ease until a downhill of what seemed like miles. During this downhill my right hamstring felt like it would either cramp until my heel touched by backside or simply tear in half. Small steps lend relief from danger, and I made it to the bottom. Mile 24 and I saw my car in the distance, with a brand spanking new tire, courtesy of our very own Pagoda Pacer President, Michelle Henry. Relief swept through my mind, and I was greeted by the joyous smiling face of Michelle. 7 miles to go and one more long climb to reach the finish line. Upon finishing, I checked to make sure my time was official (6:20:23), so that the quest for the Black List could continue.
There was one person missing from this race weekend, and this was unfortunately a result of his passing at the top of the first climb during last year’s race. This man was Carl Undercofler, a Hyner legend, and someone I unfortunately never got to meet. His presence was felt by everyone, however, as his face was appropriately plastered on every race bib. Throughout the day I was reminded how awesome the running community is. From volunteers and spectators to fellow runners, my day was filled with smiling faces and words of encouragement. It all culminated in a unique experience which I will never forget, and a race that I would highly recommend to all trail runners.