Ultra-Marathon Draws Hundreds

Ultra-Marathon in Butler County, PA

by: Sarah Waychoff

On May 14, 2016, more than 200 ultra-marathoners completed the Glacier Ridge Ultra-Marathon (GRT). The event consists of three distance races — a 30K, a 50K and a 50-mile race. To be considered an ultramarathon, a race must be longer than the 26.2-mile distance of a marathon. Some may call them crazy, but race directors Tammy McGaughey and Kara Plant said, “What heart, soul and spirit each and every one of you has!”

The Glacier Ridge Trail is a 14-mile section of the scenic North Country Trail that winds through Moraine State Park and skirts along sections of Lake Arthur in Portersville and offers a moderately technical trail surface and several challenging elevations. The trail surface ranges from soft, pine-needle covered areas to aggressive rocky sections and while none of the climbs are predominantly steep, they are steady and fairly close together and can grind down runners who underestimate them or take them for granted. One of the appealing aspects of this race is that it is easy enough for beginners, but demanding enough for experienced runners.

GRT participants are unique endurance athletes who will navigate rocks, roots, mud, weather, hills, and darkness for up to 14 hours, virtually non-stop, to achieve their personal goal, which might be simply to reach the finish line before the cutoff time. Winners typically finish in just under three hours for the 30K, about four hours for the 50K and about eight hours for the 50-mile race. Organizers also hand out a “glacial pace award” to the last person to cross the finish line under the cutoff time for each distance. This race draws attention from all over the country including 13 different states and even Canada!

The results for the 2016 GRT top finishers:

  • 30K – Dan Goldstein 3:07:26.305
  • 50K – Sean Hulbert 4:26:39.60
  • 50 Mile – David Rister 8:03:36.00
  • 50 Mile Relay – Team SC Senior Central Wal 8:07:29.60

All proceeds from the race benefit Moraine Preservation Fund and the Moraine McConnell’s Mill Jennings Commission, both non-profit volunteer organizations that conduct environmental care and trail maintenance throughout the park.