Monday, October 7, 2013

Laurel Highlands Ultra

This race is held annually the seconds Saturday in June.  The next running of this 70.5 mile race in southwestern PA is 14 June 2014.

The race website tells us:

The 70.5 mile race traverses the entire Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail in southwestern Pennsylvania, combining beautiful scenery with challenging terrain.  

Why am I discussing this race right now?  Well, for one, I have always considered this one in the back of my mind as something I'd like to do.  The distance--though odd--is a good step beyond the traditional 50 miler but not as arduous as a 100 miler, so it has a certain appeal.  Second, since I grew up in western PA I am familiar with this trail and the geologic significance of the ridge upon the trail resides.  Last, the website says that registration for the 2014 race will be open " the fall of 2013..." though it appears not to be active yet.

But the REAL reason I am mentioning this race right now is that it was first discussed in 1767 (nearly 250 years ago) in the journal of Charles Mason.

Yes, that Charles Mason, of Mason-Dixon Line fame.  I've blogged about the Line before (most recently here) and my quest to visit and photograph as many of the original mile marker stones as I can, located as I am only some 8 miles north of the Line.

See, a friend just loaned me a used book entitled The Mason and Dixon Line, Story for a Bicentenary 1763-1963, which was produced and published by the state of Pennsylvania.  On pg 83 we see some excerpts from Mason's journal from 1767, where we find this nugget, describing the ridge upon which the present-day race is run:

Laurel Hill (or rather mountain) is a Wild of Wildes; the Laurel overgrown, the Rocks gaping to swallow you up, over whose deep mouths you may step.  The whole is a deeply melancholy appearance out of nature.

Kinda make you want to run it, no?

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