FKT: Dean Banko - Upper Canyon Edge to McCune Trail Lollipop (PA) - 2024-02-21

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
51m 27s
GPS track(s)

Upper Canyon to Mccune trail loop FKT

51:27 Was my Time


When planning to head out for this attempt I was waiting for warmer weather at least enough to melt the snow. Guess I misjudged mother nature. It was supposed to be 57 degrees around Ohiopyle but when I arrived at the Surgarloaf parking lot it was 47-48 degrees. It didn’t help that I started late afternoon. I noticed on the drive there, some of the mountain sides were clear of snow and some, where the sun didn’t hit, still had a decent amount so I was not sure what I was going to encounter. Hoping for the best but expecting the worst.

I changed shoes and geared up after getting out of the car. Had to put a long sleeve shirt on and neck gaiter since it was chilly. Figured it be colder in the shady parts. Didn’t warm up once again. Just did some simple stretches and took a clip and picture but the parking lot sign.

I did walk out to the T intersection that’s like 20 yards onto the trail before starting just to see what it looked like before I decided to actually start. Walked back to the sign to start the FKT attempt. I just didn’t want to miss the first turn of the attempt which is why I did a quick recon. I was never on these trails so I had no real info as to what was in store for me. At least the trail looked uncovered.

Guess I should state I used pace pro on my Garmin to give me a rough idea how I was doing throughout the attempt. Wasn’t using the screen to keep close eye on it, just at each mile. With pace pro I'd hit a mile on my watch and about 10 seconds later pace pro would show me if I was ahead or behind. This is the 1st time I've really used the feature so I can't totally remember what all was on the screen besides the bottom number showing a – with time I was under. I stayed under for the whole run so I'd assume there would be a plus if I was over my pace. Going in I set the time I was going for to 55 minutes. That gave me a 2 minute window for the FKT record. Was hoping I'd do better than 2 minutes but didn’t want to get cocky not knowing the course or having potentially unfavorable conditions. Still want to check out the feature more for any future attempts.

As I started I took off a little fast. Was hoping to bank some time early on that I could use for the big incline. The 1st mile-ish was very runnable. Wet but runnable. I had navigation on my watch that I'd use for the whole route to make sure I didn’t miss a turn and went the right way. There was a few hairpin type turns and turns that looped back onto itself a couple times early on.

After the 1st mile is when it basically got snow covered the rest of the way except a few little spots here or there. It was nice at times others it was not. There was a bike print in the snow that made it easier to follow the trail without having to look up or pay attention to my watch. I was 1:30 ahead of my pace in that first mile. Off to a good start.

That 2nd mile when it got snow covered was not too bad. There was also the split in there somewhere to start the loop around. Can't remember the exact mileage. I know it did open up some to double track but this was way more wet and soft making it a tad harder to run fast on the soft surface. Did run past the parking lot only one car there. I knew there was a sharp turn coming. It was hard to see. I'd past it up if it wasn’t for my watch. This was the big uphill. This was also little I'd say 2 miles in. I know I was 2:46 ahead of pace 2 miles in. But now I was going uphill. The hill is not technical and can be runnable but I was overheated from starting too fast and not warming up. I already rolled my sleeves up and put my neck gaiter over my hat in an attempt to stay cooler. The hill at one point was getting to be too much. So walked a few seconds to recoup. Even though I had a nice cushion 2 miles in I knew I couldn’t let the hill take it all away by walking to much. So I pushed through. Switching my watch screen to see how much elevation this climb had left. I believe when I looked it was 290 feet left. So this climb had to be 400 feet and little over half a mile. Still not technical even when it did turn around the mountain.

From 2.5 to 3.5 your on a more flatter part per say. It is rolling a few feet up and down constantly. This mile is more rocky and rooty with more little turns and thicker slush on the trail. While there was some footprints now to also follow they didn’t always stay on the correct trail. It was also a little harder to read the trail, like what was under the slush so I took a chance and stayed on the whiter snowy less slush side of trail then the worn slush. Hoping the snowy slush would give better traction even if I did step in a divet. Also kept feet little dryer. Though they were already wet.

Mile 3 my time ahead of my pace was down 1:46 so I did loose some time. I knew I could make it backup that last mile if need be. But that depended on the next 2 miles and the downhill.

I'll be honest the downhill sucked. It wasn’t necessarily hard it was the slush. There was a pretty good downward slope to my right. The slush was making it hard to run fast on the downhill and was throwing me down the slope. This was the slick slush. Figured I was loosing some time because of it. Was back up to 2 minutes cushion at 4 miles in. The trail got wide again but super wet. My calves were already muddy, soaked and cold. Flying on this double wet track was what I had to do. This is where I was going to make or break the attempt in my mind.

Well I was running fast I was also trying to make a video clip. Not paying attention to my watch. Well I blew past the turn I was supposed to take. Luckily it was not that far past. I felt my watch vibrate saying was off course, so I stopped real quick and backtracked. This cost me 20ish seconds. Again I'm lucky my watch let me know before I went too far and that it wasn’t hard to make the correct turn to finish up the loop. Looking at the map if I kept going straight I'd hooked up with the loop anyhow but on a non repeating part. This mistake was at the end of the loop. This was at mile 5. Well soon as I got backtracked onto the correct part watch hit 5 miles. So lost less then a tenth of a mile. From there I got energized. The trail became easier again to run on. So I flew rest of the way to the finish. The last mile was the same 1st mile you started on so I new what to expect. A nice flattish nonsnow covered trail.

When watch hit 5 I knew I'd get the FKT unless I did something dumb. But felt good so let the legs rip.

Somehow I managed to get 51:27 as my FKT time beating the old record by 5 minutes 19 seconds.

I'm very happy with how I did today. So many things were working against me, the temps, snow, slush, wetness, and not knowing the course. Can't complain with how I did. Even with leaving a couple minutes out there.