Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Laurel Highlands Preview

This upcoming weekend is the Laurel Highlands Race- the 77 miler, and the 50K.

It's usually a 70.5 mile race, point to point, but the bridge over the PA turnpike was removed last year, due to structural isssues, so there is a 6.5  mile detour.  As many of us found out last year, that road section detour was just downright nasty.

But now it's a known quantity, so if you have run the race in 2010, you should be prepared.

Race start: You will  start in the State Park, where there are restrooms available. You will run down the main street, cross the very active railroad crossing, and then head down a rough road. You will have about 1/4 to 1/2 mile before the LHHT starts up to the left. Just a short little climb, then it will open up a bit where you can pass runners again.
After about the first mile marker, it will settle down into single track and much more difficult to pass, so if you don't want to get stuck behind slower runners, you might want to get ahead at the start.
A good climb at mile 3, with a great down hill runnable on the back side, another good climb and downhill

Mile 6, where you will see the signs for the shelter, is the beginning of the 1.5 mile climb. This is the big climb of the race. Do not get freaked out here. Lots of people do, they think the entire course is going to be like this. 
Mile Marker 8? Congrats, you've made it to top of the big climb. Now you have some nice runnable sections.

AID STATION coming up at mile 11.6.  You better have drained both those water bottles you started the race with.

Stop and admire the rhododendrons and huge boulders when you cross the stream at Mile 15, on the three wooden bridges. Maybe there will still be water flowing this year.

Now you are on your way to your next Aid Station, at Mile 19.3 miles. Right around the mile 18 marker, you will encounter a short, nasty climb up through some boulders. It's short, but steep. But the AS will be on the top side of this climb.

Now your focus will be getting to the Seven Springs Aid Station. The Aid Station will be right around mile 26, where you come out of the woods to the Seven Springs Ski Resort.
Make sure you wet your hat or bandana down here. You will run across the ski resort, it will all be exposed sunlight and hot. Maybe a 1/2 or 3/4 mile until you run around a lake, then back down hill, and follow the LHHT.
Although Seven Springs is the highest point on the course, beware at mile 28, there is a short, steep hill.
Next Aid Station is mile 32.3.  You will then hear the dreaded words: "Next Aid station is 12 miles". (Well, 11.7 miles.) This is also where you will encounter the 6.5 mile road section detour.

All I can say is drink up, take all the water you can carry, and hope for a rain storm.
The first section of the road is not bad, it is actually a long gradual downhill. For me, after having cement mile markers each mile for 33+ miles, you now do not have them.
You should know you run down this road (I believe it is Kuhntown Road) until it intersects with West Bakersfield Edie Road. You will see the PA Turnpike on your left, and keep thinking you are getting close, but this road goes on on. There are BIG LHHT detour signs, you will not get lost here.
You turn left onto the Bakersfield Edie  Road. This is an asphalt road of rolling hills. There is la little berm and cars drive fast here, so be alert and running facing traffic like you should.
It seems like forever until you finally see the road over the turnpike. You cross the turnpike, and now you start back up a less travelled, kind of gravelly road-this should be Hickory Flats Road. This is still exposed to the sun.
Eventually you will come to now mile 44 of the race, to the Hickory Flats Aid Station. Be NICE TO THE VOLUNTEERS they did NOT CREATE THIS DETOUR!!!!!!!
You also will have access to your drop bag here.
Then you are back into the blessed woods and trail again.

Right around LHHT mile marker 41, you will see the Beam Rocks, huge rock formations. Take a second to glance around at these, very cool. You also go through some big rock "mazes" around these miles, through some rhododendron shrubs also.

After Route 30, this seems to be when the pre-historic fern forest begins. This ferns are huge and cover the entire trail-you won't be able to see your feet due to the ferns.lamp
The mountain laurel may still be in bloom-white-as you run through here. If it is at night, the laurel will glow very pretty in your headlamp.
Speaking of headlamp, you may consider the use of a hand held light also. The fog could roll in on you, making it harder to use just one light.

Last year I timed out of the LH Race, made it to the AS at mile 65 or so.  It has been a few years since I have been on the miles 65 to 70.5, so really can't comment on it, but I do remember it being runnable and the last section is a net downhill.


  1. Dear Kim,
    your graphics suck. Learn to use an editing program.

  2. Kim says: she is too tired of fighting with computers. Don't look at if they hurt your eyes.

  3. Great info Kim! Thanks for sharing. Hope to see you there at an aid station saturday!


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