The Susquehanna Super Hike and Ultra Trail Run is a challenge event hosted by the Keystone Trails Association. This is a timed event, but meant to be an individual challenge more than anything, as there are no prizes for winners. The goal of the event is simply to challenge yourself and have a good time. Participants have the choice between a 23.4-mile option and a 29.6-mile option, and they are allowed to either run or hike either course depending on their preference. In order to be considered a “finisher”, participants must complete their chosen course in less than 12 hours. The course has a few aid stations along the way, so water won’t be a worry.
When I signed up for this event several months ago, I must have been feeling lazy because I chose the 23.4-mile course. I’m glad I did. Although I’ve been completing some very ambitious gym workouts lately, I haven’t been able to hike very many training miles in the weeks leading up to the event. A 30-mile day is still very much in my wheelhouse, but I have a feeling that my time would be abysmal and that it wouldn’t be much fun. I believe the 23.4-mile route will serve well as a benchmark test of my current physical fitness and hiking ability.
My workout regimen has kind of been a mixed bag lately. I attend a Boot Camp class at The Gym in Kutztown, PA as often as my schedule allows. They have several very good instructors who mix things up and keep the workouts challenging and interesting. We do everything from bodyweight exercises to barbell power movements to TRX training to agility work, and I am generally wiped out by the end of a session. When I can’t attend class, I often attempt to emulate those same type of workouts, but there are also days when I focus on heavier lifting, too. The gaps get filled in with 3-5 mile runs and sessions on the elliptical machine. This may sound like a disorganized and poorly planned “program”, but my fitness level has spiked dramatically since I’ve started constantly mixing things up like this. My hiking has improved by leaps and bounds.
Gear-wise, there isn’t really a ton to talk about. I’m going to carry my Gossamer Gear Quiksak. This is the lightest pack in my arsenal, and I am going to want to keep things light for the sake of speed. Instead of my typical water bottles, I am going to bring my Platypus Big Zip hydration system out of retirement. A hydration system like this will help me be extra sure that I’m staying hydrated as I hike, will fit well in my pack’s hydration sleeve, and will also be faster than trying to fiddle around with water bottles on the fly. I am going to pack a very basic first aid kit, in case I would need to treat blisters or minor cuts along the way. Finally, rounding out my kit will be my Gossamer Gear LT4 Trekking Poles.
Even though snacks are provided at the aid stations, I am going to bring a few hundred calories worth of snacks with me. If I’m doing well on water as I pass a station, I may choose to hike on without grabbing a snack. This may only appear to save me a few seconds of time, but it will save me the extra energy expenditure of getting back up to speed after the stop. I hate stopping unless it’s absolutely necessary.
My apparel will be a pair of synthetic running tights over synthetic compression shorts. Long days like this can often lead to chafing, so these articles, although unflattering, will help prevent that problem. On top will be a simple sleeveless wicking workout shirt (a Russell or Champions or some such thing). It was cheap but has actually become one of my favorite workout shirts. On my feet, a pair of thin, low wool running socks and a pair of La Sportiva Ultra Raptor trail runners. These shoes are still fairly new, but they treated me well on a few 20-mile hikes, so I have every confidence in them. Capping the whole thing off (HAHA) will be my trusty Gossamer Gear/Headsweats Visor. It keeps the sun and sweat out of my eyes and is very comfortable. What else could you ask for?
If you are interested in participating in the Super Hike, you still have until 9PM on Sunday 8/31 to sign up. I’m confident that this will be a fun event, and I look forward to hiking with a great crowd of athletes. Wish me luck!