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Hoechst to defend Mountainback title

Heather Hoechst will defend her 2015 title and vie for the USA 50 Mile Road National Championship at the Tussey Mountainback 50 Mile Relay and Ultramarathon on Oct. 30. Hoechst, who got to know the mountain roads around State College as a law student at Penn State, placed fourth in the race in 2014 and was the surprise winner in 2015. This year, she’ll run as the returning champion and will also be the featured speaker at the pre-race dinner.

When Hoechst won the Mountainback last year, the 50-mile championship was hosted by a race in Wisconsin. This year, the championship returns to central Pennsylvania, and all eligible ultramarathoners in the Mountainback will compete not only for the race’s awards, but also for a national championship.

Hoechst will likely race against Connie Gardner, of Ohio, who won the 2014 Mountainback in 7 hours, 27 minutes and told race director Mike Casper she “just can’t stay away” from the event, which she also won in 2011. Hoechst was 10 minutes behind 11-time American champion Gardner in 2014, but took the win decisively last year in 7:05.

Kathleen Cusick, who was third in 2014 in 7:33, is also registered for this year’s race.

On the men’s side, conflicts with world championship 50K and 100K races and the high-profile Marine Corps Marathon will prevent recent Mountainback champions from running the race this year, but Casper said he expects strong competition from Cole Crosby, who placed third in the 2014 Mountainback, and G. Anthony Kunkel, who was second last year in 5:38.

As the elite runners vie for national championships, others will set out to complete their first ultramarathon, and many runners will compete in the relay competition, completing the 50-mile course’s 12 legs on teams of two to eight people. Registration for the ultramarathon and relay race is open until Oct. 15 at www.tusseymountainback.com.

Proceeds from the race will benefit the Jana Marie Foundation, a local nonprofit working to empower young people, especially young women, to make positive choices, practice self-respect and maintain healthy relationships by providing opportunities for personal growth and creative expression.

The Mountainback is also seeking volunteers for race day. For more information, contact volunteer coordinator Brittany Svoboda at volunteer@tusseymountainback.com or 814-470-3579.

Navy League to honor runner

Tom Cali, State College’s “Running Realtor,” is known around town for his age-defying running prowess and for his frequent sponsorship of local charity races. On Oct. 28, the Navy League’s central Pennsylvania Council will present him with its LT Michael P. Murphy Distinguished Citizen Award.

The award, given for distinguished military or civilian service, will be presented during the council’s annual scholarship benefit banquet at the Penn Stater Conference Hotel.

The council cited Cali’s service to the Nittany Valley Running Club and its races and youth programs, among many other local organizations. Cali is a lifetime member of the running club. It is not uncommon to see him in multiple roles at a local race, volunteering at the registration table, being thanked as a race sponsor through his real estate business, and receiving an award for winning his age group.

At age 60, Cali shows no signs of slowing down. In April, he finished fourth in his age group at the Boston Marathon while raising more than $7,000 for Centre Volunteers in Medicine as part of the Marathoners for Medicine team. Cali completed the punishing 26.2-mile course in 3 hours, 4 minutes, 28 seconds, a time most runners half his age would be proud to own.

The featured speaker for the banquet is Col. Thomas Manion, U.S. Marine Corps (retired), chairman emeritus of the Travis Manion Foundation. For more information and tickets, visit www.navyleague-centralpa.org or contact Randy Richards at Richards.randall.g@gmail.com or call 574-7088.

Local race results

Scott Garman won the You Matter 5K Race on Sept. 17 at Stepping Stones Church in State College. Garman finished in 19:21. Kelly Lehtonen was the first woman in 22:25.

Johanna Ohm, of State College, led the women at the Rock’N the Knob 20-mile trail race in Claysburg on Sept. 17, finishing in 3:47. Matt Lipsey, of Kersey, took a decisive victory on the men’s side, finishing 45 minutes ahead of the next runner in 2:46.

Meira Minard, of State College, won the Dam Half trail race for the fourth year in a row on Sept. 18 at R.B. Winter State Park. Minard completed the rugged course in 1:56. The men’s race saw a close finish, with Nathan Bonham, of Westfield, (1:42:14) edging out John Johnson, of Ulster, (1:42:15). Joshua Jamison, of York, won the Dam Full race in 4:14 and Sayard Tanis, of Lewisburg, was the first woman in 4:33.

At the Boulder Beast 25-mile trail race on Sept. 24 in Castanea, the reincarnation of the popular Megatransect, Lipsey got another victory, finishing in 5:01. Minard and Tanis, just a week out from their respective Dam Half and Dam Full wins, battled it out in the women’s race. In the end, Minard (5:47:35) finished two minutes ahead of Tanis (5:49:53).

Lipsey and Minard each notched yet another win at the Raven Trail Half Marathon Oct. 2 at Poe Valley State Park. Lipsey finished in 1:49, and Minard was the first woman and second finisher overall in 1:55. Just behind her was her training partner Carole Dudukovich in 1:56.

Race calendar

Eagleton Mine Camp Trail Challenge 25K and 50K, Oct. 9, Sons of Italy Campground near Lock Haven. Benefits Clinton County Camp Cadet program, Horses for Hope and The Bald Eagle Boys Wilderness Camp. For more information, contact info@runemctc.org or visit www.runemctc.org.

Team Snap 5K, 10 a.m., Oct. 9, Grange Fair Grounds, grandstand area. Benefits Jamie Barbarich Covol and the National Brain Tumor Society. More information at www.leftrightrepeat.net/team-snap-5k.html.

YMCA Donut Dash 5K, 9:30 a.m., Oct. 10, Talleyrand Park, Bellefonte. The course consists of five 1K loops around the park, with the option to earn time bonuses for eating a donut after each loop. For more information, see www.ymcaofcentrecounty.org/ymca/ymca-donut-dash-5k/ or email Josh Cone at jcone@ymcaocc.org.

Free to Breathe Run/Walk 5K, 2 p.m., Oct. 16, Tudek Park, State College. Presented by Accuweather and benefiting lung cancer awareness and research through Free to Breathe. More information at http://participate.freetobreathe.org/site/TR?fr_id=3402.

Fear No Eagle 5K Run & Walk, 10 a.m., Oct. 23, Bald Eagle State Park, Howard. Hosted by the Bald Eagle Area High School Cheer Booster Club. For more information, see www.cheerbea.wix.com/fearnoeagle5k.

NVRC Give ‘Em 5! Run for Veterans 5-miler and 5K, 1 p.m., Nov. 6, Bellefonte Area Middle School. Benefits the Veterans Assistance Fund. Register online at www.imathlete.com/events/GiveEm5. For more information, contact Deloris Brobeck at dxb30@psu.edu.

Run for Shelter 5K, 9 a.m., Nov. 12, Centre House, 217 E. Nittany Ave., State College. Benefits Housing Transitions. Register online at www.imathlete.com/events/5thRunforShelter5K.

Nittany Valley Running Club Boalsburg Turkey Trot 5K, 9 a.m., Nov. 24, Pennsylvania Military Museum. Benefits St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy’s cross-country and track and field programs and the Friends of the Pa. Military Museum. Online registration at http://turkeytrot.elipzer.com/.

Nittany Valley Half Marathon, 10 a.m., Dec. 4, Penn State Ag Arena. Online registration at http://nvrun.com/index.php/racing/club-sponsored/nittany-valley-half-marathon.

Tara Murray writes a monthly running column for the Centre Daily Times. She can be reached via email at taraemily@gmail.com.

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