Route: Conestoga Trail (PA)

Location
Pennsylvania, US
Description

Keith Winder posted about this route & his run:

On November 6th, I completed the entire length of the Conestoga Trail (66.20 miles during Hunting Season) in Lancaster County. I ran/walked the trail from North to South, completing it in a total time of 15:40:34 (start = 6:00am / finish = 9:40pm). This was a supported run, during which I carried food and water, but had people along the way providing refills. I had other people running with me at varying times throughout the race.

I did some research online and also asked the leaders of the Lancaster Hiking Club to see if the trail had been done in one day before. No one was aware of any such attempt.

On November 6th, 2015, I completed a run/hike of the Conestoga Trail System, which runs through Lancaster County, PA. It is officially a 63 mile trail, but due to recent re-routes (and since I ran during hunting season), the trail is currently a total of 66.2 miles. I completed the trail, running North to South, in a total time of 15:40:34. This was a supported run, during which I carried food and water, but had people along the way providing refills. I had other people running with me at varying times throughout the race. This is not a very fast time, and I imagine could be beaten pretty quickly, but my understanding is that it is the only time it has been completed in one day.

I began at 6:00am on November 6th in the dark. In the early dawn and due to some significant fog, I missed two early turns, adding about 1.5 miles to my run. I found the early portion of the trail to be beautiful, but somewhat under marked. I had expected the majority of the trail to be on roads, except for the County Park and South-western section, so this first 8-10 miles was a welcome surprise of somewhat remote running. For the first 8 miles, I was joined by my brother-in-law, Troy De Bruin. 

Along the way, I had recruited many friends and family who would serve as an "aid station," helping refill my water, gatorade, and sometimes provide some food. At the 17 mile mark, I was joined by Luke Le Duc who ran with me to the Lancaster County Park. This day in early November happened to be a nearly record setting day, with a high of 76 degrees. As the same began to come through the clouds around 11:30am, I began to experience dehydration, leading to gastrointestinal issues, and a lot of walking. Around mile 35, the sun began to be covered by intermittent clouds, and immediately, my spirits were lifted, and slowly I was able to begin running with more regularity. 

Since, my longest ever run, prior to this effort was 31 miles, my body quickly let me know that I was in uncharted territory. I started having knee pain (IT Band issues) around mile 40-42, primarily while running downhill. Andy Anderson, who had joined me for the final 30 miles, recommended that we start running the uphills and flats and walking the downhills. Counter-intuitive, but it helped lessen the knee pain. 

When we arrived at the Arrowhead Marina in Pequea, PA, the really spectacular part of the Conestoga Trail began. I would argue that the final 12 miles of the Conestoga Trail are some of the most beautiful hiking in Southeastern PA. But, with the beauty comes rocky, steep, and sometimes treacherous terrain. When I (along with a few friends), began the final 12 miles, the sun had set, so we were unable to doing too much running, because with our headlamps and the leaf covered, rocky trails, we found that it was not safe to do a lot of running. At 9:40pm, we completed the final run across the Norman Wood Bridge and into the Lock 12 area in York County. Due to such a late finish, I arrived to the fan fare of two people. But, it was a great feeling to sit down in a car, close my eyes, and ride home.

 

39.8881566, -76.367183

Comments

I will be making a solo attempt on the self-supported and overall FKT for the Conestoga Trail on Wednesday, June 19th, 2019. Since moving to the Lancaster area, I've scouted and run/hiked a majority of the trail, including a preview of the first half of the trail several weeks ago. Keith Winder, the current FKT holder was really helpful answering some questions that I had about the trail. My hope is to do the ~63 mile trail in 13-14 hours - I did the first half in about 5:30, and while I think I could potentially cut down some time there, I anticipate that the second half will take longer by nature of being much more technical terrain. My hope is to use the Strava Beacon feature (mostly for my wife) and I can provide that link if necessary for verification. If there's anything else I need to provide in terms of information, please let me know.