August 5, 2017
Moshannon State Forest

by Mike Casper

Serious rains cut through the forest the night before the race and super-mild temperatures kept up for race day in central Pennsylvania’s Moshannon State Forest for the sixth annual Allegheny Front Trail Runs. This was year two for the Hemlock Half Marathon course and the third year for the Seneca 50K course.

Buckets of rain in May and June had made the vegetation go crazy, so extra pre-race trail care was done and the course looked breathtakingly lush.

Seneca 50K

The Seneca 50K Run (almost 32 miles) features some steep climbs and technical descents, including a northwestern part of the AFT, with seven aid stations.

Josh Litofsky, of State College, hammered over the rolling miles to victory, within 4 minutes of the course record set last year. A peppy front group kept Litofsky’s early pace honest.

“Miles 15-25 of the race seemed a bit more technical than the rest, so I had to work a little bit harder than I was anticipating to keep my pace going appropriately,” recalled Litofsky. ”There were a couple climbs in there that I wasn't expecting, so I had to power hike a bit to make sure that I wasn't going to blow up. At about mile 25, I realized that Adam Russel's record from last year was still in reach, so I tried to push myself through those last 6-ish miles, and even though those miles are pretty fast, I wasn't quite able to do it.”

Twenty-two minutes separated Litofsky from William Huber, of Zelienople, at the finish, and the first female and third overall, State College’s Nicole Yokum, came through just ten minutes later. State College’s Charlie Vasey was the third male.

Yokum came in knowing only the front end of the course. “I tried to start out the race at a pretty swift pace, since I knew that the first six or so miles would be flat. For the first 45 minutes or so, I had Cheyenne [Albert, of Morrisdale] and a rather tall man [Charlie Vasey] right on my heels. I was feeling good, strong, fast and confident, although I had a really hard fall on a slippery wooden bridge just about one mile in. After the initial flat part and until about mile 18 or so, I just felt that I was having a bad day because so many things were going wrong.” Among them, Yokum had donned almost brand-new trail shoes and kept falling. Then a little further in, things shifted, and her confidence and power returned. “I caught and passed Cheyenne on a long, slow grassy uphill. From there, I just tried to cautiously gain speed and have a strong last third of the race. I felt really good at the end, like I actually had a lot left and could have pushed myself harder. That's not a great way to feel at the end of a race, but it's a funny thing about ultras that you sometimes don't know if you'll suddenly run out of steam so that the last 4 or 5 miles, which should seem like a short distance to go, might become an eternity.”

In the end, Albert finished just 5 minutes back of Yokum and fourth overall, and Kristen Gonyaw, of Julian, was the third woman.

Runners who improved their times included Huber (33 minutes faster than 2015), Vasey (16 minutes off his 2015 time), Kevin Condon (40 minutes faster), and Dan McGonical (18 minutes faster).

Hemlock Half Marathon

The Hemlock Half Marathon Run is a 98% trail course, 93% single track, with three aid stations.

Norb Baier, of Port Matlida, won the race, with Joel Strouse, of Loganton, and Scott Matson, of Philipsburg, taking second and third. Baier had run the course earlier in the week, “so I knew when to hammer down and when to hold back.”

Kathryn Oyler, of State College, won the women’s race by just 87 seconds over Hayley Weyhe, of State College, and Larie Hall, of Morrisdale, took third.

Oyler recalled a high-energy day. “I was pressed early on in the race, especially on the steeper downhills where I take too much caution. I was passed a couple of times by guys able to let go and take a hill in a few strides. This forced me to open up more than usual, but then I also hit the climbs hard to make up for it. The second half was a mind game. There was a long stretch where the elevation was relatively flat, but the trail went through a variety of terrain - slick mud and rocks, logs, loose boards, clumpy grass. It was tough to keep a steady pace and I thought for sure that I was losing ground. I was in 2nd place (female) up until this point and thought I was going to lose that spot, let alone catch up to first. My energy didn't fade, though, so when I spotted the first female about 30 yards ahead at the last aid station, I knew I had the win. The course was awesome!”

Time improvements over last year included Matson (nearly 2 minutes faster) and Kevin Flaherty (nearly 10 minutes faster).

Keeping the Trails Great

Trail care on the AFT is a group endeavor and great fun. Watch for announcements to take part in trail prep next year. Proceeds from these races support Crosswinds at Mid-State Airport, a volunteer group dedicated to promoting general aviation and encouraging recreation on area trails, and the Keystone Trails Association.


Special thanks to the trail care volunteers, course setup runners, race day sweeps Jo Ohm and Marvin Hall, and dedicated course volunteers. Thanks also to event sponsors Appalachian Outdoors, Black Moshannon Camp Store & Grill, Grattan’s Pharmacy & Gifts, Lezzer Lumber, Nature’s Pantry and Rapid Transit Sportswear.

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Trail marking crew (l-r): Carole Dudukovich, Mike Dinsmore, Drew Funk, Jo Ohm, Brock Rider, Bella, Meira Minard, and Sir Wally

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Kristen Gonyaw – Kristen Gonyaw glides through mile 15 of the Seneca 50K

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Starla Snyder (l) and Matt Dixon (r) at the 25-mile checkpoint with runner Jeremy Hand

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Josh Litofsky savors his Seneca 50K victory

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Nicole Yokum and Kristen Gonyaw were the first and third women in the 50K

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Charlie Vasey takes a moment to recover after the 50K

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Kate Oyler completes the Hemlock Half Marathon

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Norb Baier takes the final step to victory in the half marathon

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Joel Niemann and Rebecca Reitz enjoy a cold brew after the half marathon

Seneca 50K Run

Place First         Last         Age  Sex   Town             State    Time
————— —————         ————         ———  ———   ————             —————    ————
1     Josh          Litofsky      25   M    State College      PA    4:46:03
2     William       Huber         32   M    Zelienople         PA    5:08:58
3     Nicole        Yokum         34   F    State College      PA    5:18:56
4     Cheyenne      Albert        28   F    Morrisdale         PA    5:23:59
5     Charlie       Vasey         36   M    State College      PA    5:38:57
6     Robert        Young         35   M    Falls Church       VA    5:45:50
7     Mark          Fisher        30   M    Mifflin            PA    6:00:34
8     Allen         Stoltzfus     24   M    Mill Hall          PA    6:02:56
9     Kevin         Condon        31   M    Morrisdale         PA    6:22:48
10    Kristen       Gonyaw        25   F    Julian             PA    6:31:32
11    Razvan        Lazareanu     47   M    Toronto            ON    6:59:37
12    Jeremy        Hand          39   M    Dauphin            PA    7:08:41
13    Nicholas      Jaffa         30   M    State College      PA    7:17:08
14    Margaret      Rainey        20   F    Scranton           PA    7:20:05
15    Danielle      Barney        42   F    Lock Haven         PA    7:32:45
16    Jim           Stavely       59   M    Westchester        PA    7:42:10
17    Dan           McGonigal     19   M    Morrisdale         PA    7:47:33
18    Amanda        Grosh         36   F    Lancaster          PA    7:57:04
19    Karl          Ahlswede      56   M    Philadelphia       PA    8:09:29
20    Kim           Kwiatek       59   F    Mill Hall          PA    8:14:44
21    Patrick       Condon        34   M    Morrisdale         PA    8:16:51
22    Drew          Hoffman       48   M    Westfield          IN    8:21:29

Hemlock Half Marathon Run

Place First         Last         Age  Sex   Town             State    Time
————— —————         ————         ———  ———   ————             —————    ————
 1    Norb          Baier         30   M    Port Matilda       PA    1:48:55
 2    Joel          Strouse       47   M    Logantown          PA    2:07:08
 3    Scott         Matson        43   M    Philipsburg        PA    2:08:30
 4    Kathryn       Oyler         38   F    State College      PA    2:08:35
 5    Hayley        Weyhe         42   F    State College      PA    2:10:02
 6    Brock         Rider         39   M    State College      PA    2:11:17
 7    Troy          Miller        47   M    Julian             PA    2:11:56
 8    Larie         Hall          48   F    Morrisdale         PA    2:16:02
 9    Ray           Kristofik     60   M    Julian             PA    2:17:00
10    Dan           Kossack       54   M    New Wilmington     PA    2:19:36
11    Ashley        Schrag        33   F    PA Furnace         PA    3:20:28
12    Steven        Maraslevsky   58   M    State College      PA    3:20:32
13    Joel          Niemann       43   M    Bellefonte         PA    2:20:44
14    Matt          Posney        42   M    Julian             PA    2:21:15
15    Dennis        Kennedy       62   M    Hampstead          MD    2:25:25
16    Jason         Gagnon        48   M    Woodstock          VA    2:26:35
17    Thomas        Hanna         21   M    University Park    PA    2:26:58
18    RJ            Bascom        15   M    Front Royal        VA    2:27:38
19    Rebecca       Reitz         40   F    State College      PA    2:30:34
20    Aaron         Ritchey       39   M    Everett            PA    2:31:33
21    Kevin         Flaherty      36   M    State College      PA    2:31:36
22    Abigail       Minnick       27   F    Akron              OH    2:32:18
23    John          Black         47   M    Sharon             PA    2:34:26
24    Rosie Nanette Gagnon        44   F    Woodstock          VA    2:34:53
25    Thomas        Anderson      65   M    Lancaster          PA    2:47:15
26    Daniel        McCaslin      44   M    Julian             PA    2:48:01
27    Becky         Green-Dixon   48   F    Port Matilda       PA    2:50:15
28    Samantha      Weaver        44   F    Jersey Shore       PA    2:52:22
29    De'Anna       Caligiuri     35   F    Munhall            PA    3:07:25
30    Maureen       Stathes       55   F    Bellefonte         PA    3:17:18
31    Jane          Kone          64   F    Howard             PA    3:17:18
32    Kendra        Claypool      29   F    Philipsburg        PA    3:24:56
33    Susan         Eberhardt     52   F    Altoona            PA    3:25:38
34    Jonathan      Lovell        45   M    Georgetown         KY    3:25:40
35    Mallory       Lovell        17   F    Georgetown         KY    3:25:57
36    Linda         Wible         60   F    Altoona            PA    3:27:38
37    Christopher   King          41   M    Mechanics          PA    3:47:09
38    Rebekah       Postupak      43   F    Strasburg          VA    3:49:47
39    Kerry         Wonders       45   F    Westfield          IN    3:58:27
40    Phil          Hesser        66   M    Crocheron          MD    4:06:57