Long Path Race Series: Announcing the 2016 Disciples of the Long Brown Path

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2016Long Path Race Series! We call these winners Disciples in a nod to Raymond Torrey, Trail Conference founder and promoter of both the Appalachian Trail and the Long Path, whose memorial plaque on Long Mountain remembers him as a “Great Disciple of the Long Brown Path.”  The idea is that people who are humble enough to learn from nature can do great things.

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Memorial Plaque on Long Mountain

The Long Path is a 358-mile hiking trail that reaches from New York City to the outskirts of Albany, along the way traversing some of New York’s most beautiful parks and preserves, including the New Jersey Palisades, Harriman State Park, Schunemunk Mountain, the Shawangunk Mountains, the Catskills, and the Helderberg Escarpment.  Created and maintained by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, the Long Path is a labor of love for some 250 volunteers.

The Long Path Race Series is a series of running events that take place at various points along the Long Path.  The purpose of the series is to build awareness for the Long Path and the work of the Trail Conference and its volunteers and to get more people running and hiking on New York’s beautiful trails.  Points are accrued for the distance of each event and the finishing time relative to event leaders.  Series winners (or “disciples”) are recognized in four categories: male, male master (40 and over), female, and female master.  The Long Path Race Series is organized by Shawangunk Adventures LLC and includes events managed by other organizations as well.  Stay tuned announcements about the 2017 series.

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Disciple of the Long Brown Path — Male Division:  Alan Davidson, 31, New York City

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Alan recovering after the Great Schunemunk Traverse

Alan turned in a remarkable performance during 2016, accumulating 229 points, the highest ever point total achieved in the history of the Long Path Race Series, and more than double the points of the runner-up.

How did Alan earn so many points?  First, he participated in every single event in the series.  Second, he ran extremely competitively, finishing 1st in the Phoenicia 1/2 marathon, and earning 2nd place in each of the Catskill Mountain Road Race 100k, Hambletonian Marathon, Wurtsboro 30k, and Satan’s Tar 10-miler.  Finally, when he encountered obstacles, he persevered.  During the SRT 70-mile race, Alan developed stomach issues early on and was unable to eat, yet he declined to withdraw, even when the race director offered him a ride back to the start, and ended up finishing in a respectable 23 hours, collecting 65 out of 72 available points.  Also, he refused to stop moving during the Great Schunemunk Traverse, even after rolling an ankle.

Congratulations, Alan, let that ankle heal, and we have no doubt you’ll do great things in 2017.

It has been a pleasure to run along scenic roads and trails with so many diverse people that share the common goal of enjoying the outdoors by struggling through demanding adventures. Living in Manhattan, I find that a necessary component of balancing my own life is to escape the manicured concrete paths of the city in search of the meandering paths of dirt and rocks that make up the Long Path. The Long Path Race series has provided me with a bunch of these wild adventures and has introduced me to a bunch of people that value what the natural land has to offer.

— Alan Davidson, 2015 Disciple of the Long Brown Path – Male Division

We also recognize Chris Regan, who won the 2015 male division, for accumulating an impressive 111 points, up from his winning total of 75 in the prior year.  Chris participated in every event in the series except for the SRT and the Hambletonian.  Also of note, Ivan Milan completed three of the series events.

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Disciple of the Long Brown Path — Female Master Division:  Roni Belcheva, 44, New York City

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Roni Belcheva secured the title of “Disciple of the Long Brown Path” by winning a single event, the Catskill Mountain Road Race 100k, which she completed in 12 hours 58 minutes, edging out Julie Lyness by a little over 90 minutes.  As she points out below, this race was a redemption for her, and she appreciated the beauty of the course, which winds through the southern Catskills on quiet country roads.  Congratulations, Roni, and we hope you’ll come back next year and run with us in more events.

CMRR was a run which was not only the longest distance I had done up to date. But I was also celebrating my son’s 2nd birthday. This race meant the world to me. In short,  I attempted my 1st 100 mile at the San Diego 100 in June in which I fell at mile 47. And missed my cut off by 5 minutes. So this day in August was to be my redemption, to be my celebration for what I do and most of all having become a stronger runner after my child. He has empowered me beyond words. And I share with mothers that your life path does not have to end but can be revived. By setting one foot in front of the other and taking in the time to do the work you can make your dreams happen. I am beyond humbled by the experience. The beauty is beyond words. And the friendships along the way will be placed in my heart forever.

— Roni Belcheva, 2016 Disciple of the Long Brown Path – Female Master Division

2015 female master division winner Anna Pettersson was gunning for a second consecutive victory and ended up accumulating points at Satan’s Tar, the Hambletonian Marathon, and the Great Schunemunk Traverse, but victory slipped from her fingers when she withdrew from the SRT at mile 55.  We known this was a big disappointment for Anna, but we salute her for making a prudent decision and for her steady spirits and positive attitude. We also recognize Dana Spano and Lorraine Anderson for completing three of the series’ events.

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Disciple of the Long Brown Path — Female Division:  Melissa McCutcheon, 35, Towaco, NJ

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Photo credit:  Larry Gindoff

Melissa McCutcheon won the female division by accumulating points in the Phoenicia 1/2 marathon, Hambletonian Marathon, Catskill Mountain Road Race 100k, and the Wurtsboro 30k.  This was a very strong season for Melissa, during which she set personal records at 50k and 100k races, as well as running back to back 100ks.  She reports having a “blast” on the Phoenicia trail 1/2 marathon downhill, and running the CMRR for the third time “felt fantastic!”

Nice work, Melissa!

Many thanks to the RDs whose talent and vision have put so many feet on these beautiful volunteer-maintained trails. There’s few people I’d rather see at a finish line, except with maybe the addition of Brian Cavanagh, creator of the CMRR route of which I’m so enamored. I’ve also had the great privilege of learning from and laughing with the incredibly accomplished Trishul Cherns, my ultra coach and confidante, and I’m also indebted to his beautiful wife Kaaren and her magical kefir. Sweaty celebratory hugs as well to my local running partner Stefanie Azzari, who slays in a wig and a tutu. Most of all, I’m grateful for my husband Tom, my crew for life, who loves me so much that he didn’t use air conditioning all summer so I could heat train. Last but not least, my best running buddy and ultra-dog-in-training, puppy Ryder: may we all howl with joy to go run!

— Melissa McCutcheon, 2016 Disciple of the Long Brown Path – Female Division

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Disciples of the Long Brown Path — Male Master Division: Marcin Mrowka, 46, New York

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Marcin Mrowka won the male master division with 119 points, edging out Ian Erne who accumulated 89 points, thanks to a very strong performance at the SRT 70-mile race, where he finished 2nd, as well as completing the Phoenicia 1/2 marathon, the Thacher Running Festival Marathon, and the Great Schunemunk Traverse, where he paced his wife to a solid finish.  Of note, Marcin improved his SRT time from from 24:14 in 2015 to 21:32 in 2016.  Also, Marcin returned the male master title to New York: in 2015, the title was shared by David Herring and Bernard Pesjak of Virginia.

There are plenty of contenders in this division, and we expect 2017 to see a lot of competition.  Marcin, you ran really well this year, and we hope you’ll come back and run with us next year, too.

My goal this season was to run as much as I can on the Long Path.
It is ours, a local and beautiful trail.
I am happy that we have it and even more happy to run it!

— Marcin Mrowka, 2016 Disciple of the Long Brown Path – Male Master Division

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Running the Long Path is now available on Amazon!  (Click on the image to check it out)

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Long Path Race Series: Announcing the 2016 Disciples of the Long Brown Path

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