FKT: Dean Banko - Bells Gap Trail (PA) - 2024-02-19

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
1h 45m 20s
GPS track(s)

Bells Gap Trail FKT 1:45:20 2/19/24

Wanted to cross this one off the list. Not the best performance possible, the conditions played a huge role in that. With the storm that came thru over the weekend, wasn’t sure how the trail was going to look. Took a chance and headed out anyhow on Monday late afternoon, watch said I started at 3:39 pm which only left roughly 2 hours of daylight.

The trail when pulling into the parking lot looked good. It was mid 30s temp wise. Not knowing what the far end looked like or how cold it would be higher up I dressed way too warm. I immediately got hot as I started running, not a good sign at all. Rolled up sleeves and pants to keep myself cool. This would take a lot of energy out of me being overheated as any runner knows. I was dripping by the turnaround my long sleeve shirt drenched under my light coat and kutting weight sauna suit top.

There was a little knot in my right calf, figured running would straighten it out and I never really noticed it while running. Had to pull sleeves down some because they became to bulky and were cutting circulation off to my arms.

The trail itself the first 2.1 miles-ish where its actual rail trail were not covered with snow just wet and soft. Made it a tad harder to run faster. After the rail trail part the rest was snow covered, except a couple spots maybe 10 yards long the rest of the way. I called this a 3 punch combo. It was cold, the trail was snow covered and I was running uphill. Those 3 together made it hard. There were a few foot steps in the snow nothing that really helped me at all, since they didn’t match my stride. So I was braking the snow the whole time. Its wasn’t soft was kind of crunchy. There was some ski marks that didn’t help either, just made it more hard compacted.

Felt aright way out for most part. Did have to take a poop break at 4.84 which cost me 2 minutes, thank goodness for the snow since I had no TP. That however added 2 minutes of time to the FKT. Plus losing momentum. There were a handful of small trees/branches down on the trail, nothing that you really had to stop to get around. Could jump or go thru them without much effort. The 2 little springs that go across the trail were just wet. Somehow did not get feet wet go over them. Which you do have to step at least one foot in to get across.

That’s about it for the way out. I touched the game commission gate signifying the turnaround spot. Took a picture and clip as well as a clip at the acid mine ponds.

Really looked forward to the return trip since it would be all downhill. I forgot to mention its all uphill on the way out. Today only got roughly 950 feet of gain on the way out, with I believe 26 feet decent. So for the 6.3 miles you'r running all uphill, nothing drastic as far as incline percentage wise just steady constant climbing. So way back was hoping it be much easier and speedier. I guess it was but at the same time legs were more tired. Did run faster by a few minutes. Nothing to really write home about.

It was noticeably colder on the way back. The sun was tucked away that was in my face on the way out, so it made the trail 10-15 degrees colder on the way back and I could tell the difference. I got cold also form having been sweaty way out, now that I was overheating as much and it was colder the sweat got colder, making me cold.

No issues on the way back. Just plugged along. I switched watch screen on the way back. On way out I used the screen that counts distance up, way back I used the one that had the screen showing me how much mileage was left. It’s a good mental boost to see the miles tick away plus seeing my eta. I could use that info since it was a programmed course on my Garmin, it allows me to do that. Did pass 3 people and a dog on the way back, only one person as I headed out. The trail itself wasn’t used much over the last 3 days, since you could tell by the snow cover there was maybe 2 sets of track plus the skier, since it snowed Friday past the rail trail part.

But that's my FKT submission for today. Not the fastest time possible. I believe I could knock 20 or so minutes off in the spring in better condition with less clothes. I just wouldn't recommend trying in mid summer or fall once the grass grows high.