With my summer racing season coming to a close after Eastern States 100 and the end of the PA Triple Crown series this past weekend, it’s time to start thinking and solidifying plans for fall races. So far, I haven’t given it a great deal of thought because I’ve been so focused on spring and summer running goals. I’ve got some ideas and there are plenty of options, but so far the only definite I have on my schedule is the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Trail Relay. The GAP relay race challenges teams of 8, 6, or 4 runners to complete the 150 mile GAP trail starting in Cumberland, MD then traversing through the Allegheny Mountains and finishing in Pittsburgh, PA.
When offered the opportunity to run the GAP I was excited for a number of reasons. The first being that I’ve never seen or traveled any of the Great Allegheny Passage Trail and I’m pretty much always a fan of exploring new trails. With a chance dropped in my lap to cover a large section of completely new to me trail on foot and other portions in a pacer vehicle, there was no way I wasn’t going to do my best to partake. After learning a little history about the trail and how it is basically a conglomeration of rail/trail conversions, I am even more pumped to explore it with the potential to see some of the surviving historical railroad artifacts (old railroad stations, telegraph poles, mileposts, and foundations for signals). Also, since the trail is built along former railroads, all of the grades are gentle never exceeding a 1.5% grade. Although I love the challenging and rugged trails PA offers, I would be lying if I did not admit that I’m looking forward to a less strenuous (and likely faster) trail run through PA that still includes the beautiful scenery of the Pennsylvania landscape. Tunnels and bridges will take me through the mountains and over the water crossings that at other trail races I would have to climb over and wade through.
A second reason that I am getting more pumped as the start of the GAP Relay nears is that this will be the first ever team relay race I have run. I like trying new race formats to keep running fun, interesting, and challenging. Working as a team of runners is something I have not experienced at a race yet, and I look forward to how the team dynamic will add an entirely new element to the journey. Additionally, the relay team I am running with is a group of other BibRave Pros, none of whom I have ever actually met before. Getting to know and run with a group of runners that I have only interacted with via Twitter and Instagram adds to the sense of adventure in this undertaking. Thus far, all the BibRave Pros I’ve met are passionate about running and having fun while doing it, so I envision this jaunt along the GAP Trail to basically be 150 miles of an ultrarunning trail party!
If you get a crew together to take on the GAP Relay, be sure to use code “BIBRAVE100” for $100 off the registration fee!
Photo Credit: Allegheny Trail Alliance (ATA)
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