At 5 a.m. Sept. 6, Koloman Erway strapped on his headlamp and started his attempt to run the entire 84 miles of the Susquehannock Trail.
In his vest, he carried water, an energy drink, some energy bars, gels and collapsible hiking poles for the difficult terrain. The weather was cool, although the dew quickly dampened his feet. A hiker sleeping in the tent at the bottom of the hill wished him well on his attempt.
He ran in the dark for the first 90 minutes, saw a beautiful sunrise, several deer and possibly a bear. He met his crew, his father Steve and ST Club member Wanda Shirk, at Lyman Run around 7:45 a.m.
From there, Erway ran across the suspension bridge, completed a steady climb and descended into West Branch Camp before completing Cardiac Climb, “which did not disappoint in both beauty and difficulty.”
He met his crew at the Cherry Springs Fire Tower, changed into dry clothes, but kept his shoes as Hog Back Hollow would likely be muddy from the overnight rain. He changed his shoes at 11 a.m. at Short Run Road, before beginning the descent to Ole Bull. After tripping over a root resulting in a “minor face plant,” Erway continued along the “very runnable” trail with “breathtaking views with the open valley below.” He arrived at Ole Bull at 12:45 p.m. to be met by his crew, friends and family, including his wife.
“It was really nice to have the well wishes,” he said.
Erway’s cousin joined him on the next 12 miles, who ran ahead and knocked down spider webs. The pair missed a turn and found themselves on a Donut Hole Trail, adding another 2.5 miles and 50 minutes to his run. They arrived at Twelve Mile Road around 4:45 p.m.
Running solo, Erway continued to Cross Fork, spotting a bull elk along the way. As dusk set around mile 60, the headlamp came back out and he arrived at Cross Fork around 8:40 p.m.
It was his longest stop, with Erway sitting to eat a full meal. Until then, he received substance through energy gels, drinks and bars.
His brother-in-law set the pace as they entered the most difficult stretch through the Hammersley Wild Area. It was dark and he’d been running for 16 hours, but strategically wanted to run this section because the dark would force him to take a slower pace.
“Typically the hardest part of a long run is staying awake toward the middle of the night. This one, for some reason, my feet got really tender,” Erway said. “I think it was because of the technical part through Hammarsley. My feet are not used to gripping rocks at all those angles. Every step was really painful, so I was going really slow.”
At 12:45 a.m. Sept. 7, he met his crew at McConnell Road and his sister ran with him for 4.5 miles to Williams Farm.
“By this time, running was difficult due to pain in my feet and the general stiffness in my legs, which is typical for this distance and time on my feet,” Erway said. “I managed to run the downhill section, then walk/ran the flat part until we reached the farm.”
He also sat again, about five minutes in a car and closed his eyes. Then, getting back on his feet, Erway and his father, Steve, began the final 13 miles.
“Pain in my feet made it difficult to move faster than a steady walk,” Erway said.
Out of energy gels having missed his crew halfway through the final section, they listened to the coyotes and owls as the sun rose through the trees.
At 8:18 a.m., the pair emerged from the woods.