This was my fifth year of attending Slim Pickins. The only year I missed was the first year, in 2006.
I did a short little write up on the History of Slim Pickins, which was fun to go back and read my old run reports. I plan on rewriting this in more detail, with all the pics I have, over the course of this winter. We’re at the point with our club that we now have history.
This was the least epic weather ever for SP and also the most attendees at the starting line.
18 runners lined up at the Brown Gate in around 30 degree weather, with no snow and temperatures promised to be in the 50’s.
We had a goal for this year’s running. The Ohiopyle 50K, or the “Gate 2-8×2” Challenge. It’s very simple. Start at the Brown Gate (mile zero for our purposes) go out to Mile Marker 8 on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, return to the Brown Gate; and then repeat. This gives you 32 miles and 7400 feet of elevation.
It sounds simple enough. And it’s not usually the 1.5 mile climb OUT at mile 6 that affects people. It’s the Mile 5 and 3 Hills, as I call them. What you go down on the way out, you must climb again.
The mile marker three ended up being some of the runner’s turning point, since once you passed MM# 3, and went downhill, you were more of less committed. In other words, once you go down Mile 3 Hill, you might as well trudge on out to MM8 and make the turn.
There was a good group of us sharing trail time on the way out to MM8, me, Tara, Bill, the Musick brothers, the Harris Boyyzz, so the time really went by quickly. It’s amazing how trail time can pass when you are with a group.
We stopped at the overlook right around Mile 7.5. If you are on the LHHT, you need to keep an eye out for the boulders to the left of the trail and hop up onto these for the photo op.
We made the turn at MM8 and headed back. Eric and Slim had taken off, and I got ahead of the group because I wanted to run the long downhill. Jeff eventually caught up to me on the big downhill, and then Brian caught up. We then swept up with Slim, who wasn’t feeling his best, and headed back into town.
The Musick brothers went to refuel at the market in town, and Slim and I just refueled at our vehicles.
I started out just a bit ahead of Slim, and caught Tara and Bill just coming off the trail. Tara indicated that she was done with 16 miles, and I didn’t try and argue with her. She and Bill are experienced ultra runners, so they know what they can do, or want to do.
Slim stopped to give Tara a pep talk and ended up perking himself up, so he caught right up to me. We then encountered Chris. This was Chris’ first time on the Laurel Highlands Trail, and the most technical trail she’s encountered. She informs us she is not going to do the full 50K, but will turn at the gate and get some more miles in.
Both Slim and I had independently came to the same thought earlier-we would finish our 50K, then go back out and run in with Chris. We told Chris this, if we encountered her on our way back, we’d go the full distance out to MM8 again with her. This also gave Chris pause to figure out how far she could go out, without running into us.
Slim and I continued down the trail. He had benefited from his own pep talk, and it seemed like no time at all we ran into Lloyd Thomas. LT was our enabler. He had hiked out with 200 oz of water and his gear, and had spent much of his time around MM 5 and 6, getting some studying done, and wandering up and down the trail with folks. He was also keeping track of who we still had out there.
Out of the full 18 starters, the OP50K finishers were dropping like flies. Cam Baker, Paul Lefelhocz, Rich Vriboncic, and Chris D were in front of us and would finish. The only ones behind Slim and I were the Musick Brothers, and we didn’t know if they would come out for the full second loop.
The wind had died down as we got to the summit almost to MM8. It was great to be hitting that Mile Marker and now know we had the full 1.5 mile downhill. We ran into the Musick Brothers not that far behind us, just about the mile 7 spot. We continued down trail, and picked up LT around mile 6 for the trip home.
Darkness did catch us about mile 2, and Slim went into his power march, which meant I had to go into a run and then a jog to keep up with him. But we wanted to break the 10 hour mark for the 50K, which we did, in 9.55.
This should show you how tough the OP 50K is, when a sub 10 hour 50K is an okay time. Cam Baker finished in 7.35. I’m not sure what Cam’s ‘normal’ 50K time is, I’m sure it would be around 5 hours. This is not your typical 50K-nor a 50K for just anybody.
We had 8 finishers of the OP50K, now known as the “Gate 2-8-X2” Challenge. This challenge is open to anyone, we are working on a website for this. All you have to do is follow the pretty simple rules: Start at the Brown Gate at the LH sign, go to mile 8, come back, and repeat. Do this in one 24 hour period. Time spent refueling in Ohiopyle counts, you can’t subtract that. Report results of time and date achieved.
I really enjoyed the 50K challenge, and it was great to spend all the trail time with everyone. Already looking forward to next year’s Slim Pickins!!