2018 SRT Race Director’s Report

The fifth edition of the SRT Run took place September 14-15, 2018 with over 200 registered participants from 14 states and one from Brazil.  The weather was beautiful: clear and sunny.  But recent rains had left the trail wet, and a few runners struggled with blisters.  Finishing rates were consistent with the last few years, with around 50% of the 50- and 70-mile runners completing the course, while nearly 100% of the 30-mile and 1/2 marathon runners made it to the finish.  It was exciting to see new female and male course records set in the 1/2 marathon and a new female record for the 50-mile division.

The SRT Run has a minimalist format, meaning there are no aid stations (we don’t provide food or water) and no supplemental course markings.  While we provide paper and electronic maps to help runners navigate the course, inevitably some people make wrong turns, and this is by design part of the challenge of the event.  We thank New Jersey Search and Rescue and Sam’s Point Search and Rescue for supporting the SRT Run.  This year, there were four rescues of runners who became disoriented or needed assistance exiting the course, but rest assured everyone ended up safe and sound.

Organizers created this event to celebrate a magical trail that crosses the entire length of the Shawangunk Mountains, or the “Gunks” as they’re called, an area identified by the Nature Conservancy as “one of Earth’s last great places.”  By promoting awareness of the SRT, we hope to build support for further conservation.


The 70-mile race covers the entire length of the Shawangunk Ridge Trail, which makes for a long and daunting but beautiful course.  The trail starts in the High Point State Park outside Port Jervis, New Jersey, at a junction with the Appalachian Trail and immediately passes under the shadow of a monument tower that can be seen from the Catskills sixty miles away.  It proceeds through rolling forests, passes alongside the Bashakill wetlands, and rises onto glacially-scoured rocks on the crest of the ridge before dropping into quiet forests in the northern section of the Mohonk Preserve.  The trail ends in the town of Rosendale, New York, with participants running across a railway trestle 140 feet above the Rondout Creek .  The word “dramatic” does not do justice.

Over the last five years, conditions at the start have never been quite the same, such is the variability of High Point’s weather.  After glorious sunsets and rainbows in prior years, today the start was shrouded in fog, and as the runners were making their final preparations, the monument tower was barely visible.

70-mile start.  Tom Bushey Photography

This year we had two starts to the 70-mile division.  The first wave started at exactly 6:30 PM with 17 runners, and the second wave of 3 runners departed at exactly 8:00 PM (the second wave was designed for faster runners desiring to minimize time spent held up at Checkpoint #3).

For the race director and a small team of night marshals, Friday night was quiet.  With New Jersey Search and Rescue on call, we were prepared for problems, but no-one got lost or dropped out.  In fact, the first 70-mile runner wouldn’t drop until Saturday morning.  The problem was blistered feet due to a last-minute decision to go with shoes instead of sandals.  The trails were pretty wet this year, and blistered feet would claim at least two other 70-milers.

All told, of the 20 starters, 11 reached the finish, for a 55% finishing rate, an improvement from 35% in 2017.

Andrew Wilkens of Olympia, Washington came in first with a time of 18:13:43, just two minutes behind Tim Ela’s record-setting run of the year before.  Ben Leese of Brooklyn came in second place, followed by Ben Parker of Harding, New Jersey.  Also of note, Raymond Russell of New York City completed his third successful 70-mile finish.

Andrew Wilkens, 70-mile male winner with parents

I’m inspired by all the athletes who lined up alongside me at the start of the 70-mile race.  Just to be on that starting line took courage and everyone showed true grit to push through the challenges offered up on the SRT this year.  From shoes that never dried, to miles of slipping on wet rocks and roots, this course made sure nothing came easy.  Regardless of whether they finished or not, those who even dared to start the 70-mile division should be proud of what was accomplished.

— Andrew Wilkens, winner 70-mile male division

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Raymond Russell, 3-time 70-mile finisher.  Steve Aaron Photography

Jaime Peca of Rochester, New York won the female division in a time of 24:27:08.  The female record of 23:15 still belongs to Melanie Mueller, who this year volunteered as a course marshal at Checkpoint #6.  Of special note, Jaime’s coach, Dick Vincent, race director and creator of the Escarpment Trail Run (now in its 43rd year), attended the event to cheer her on.  (We welcome spectators at the event, but they are not allowed to provide any aid beyond moral support, or they risk disqualifying their runners.)

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Female 70-mile winner, Jaime Peca


SRT Co-director Todd Jennings gave the starting command for the 50-mile division at  precisely 6:00 AM, and twenty runners headed out into the darkness.  Twelve would make it to the finish line, for a 60% finishing rate.

50-milers starting out.  Tom Bushey Photography

Late morning I received a call from one of the 50-milers who’d become disoriented.  Sam’s Point Search and Rescue got on the phone, pinpointed the individual’s location (the runner had gotten turned around and was heading the wrong way), and drove off to retrieve them.

The female 50-mile winner was Jennifer Donohue of Saranac, New York in 13:55:05, who set a new course record, beating Gabriela Stephens’ time of 15:19 set in 2016 by over an hour.  Three other female runners broke the 2016 record, including Jami Landry, Noelle Timmons, and Jamie Newberry.  The male 50-mile winner was Nathaniel Brown of New York in 13:17:09.

50-mile winner Jennifer Donohue
50-mile winner Nathaniel Brown


30-mile runners started in four waves at the Sam’s Point Visitor Center.  Because runners in all divisions have until midnight, the 30-milers enjoy a generous 15-hour time limit, and fifty-three of the sixty starters reached the finish for a success rate of 88%.

The first place male finisher was Jake Stookey of Clifton Park, New York, who finished in 5:42:50, an improvement of more than an hour from his 5th place finish in 2017.  Jake also earned a special barefoot pin for his finishers medal by running in sandals, a distinction that reflects the minimalist spirit of the event.  Emma Raub of Brooklyn won the female division in 7:13:15.

30-mile winner Jake Stookey.  Tom Bushey Photography
30-mile winner Emma Raub


1/2 marathon runners face the same challenges as other participants, but because all events end at midnight, these runners have more than thirteen hours to complete the course.  This may be the most generous 1/2 marathon time limit in the world, and it makes racing the Shawangunk Ridge Trail accessible to athletes with a wide range of abilities, some of whom walked the whole distance, while others flew.  The finishing rate was over 94%.

First place male was Daichi Inoue of New York City who set a new course record of 1:56:37, improving on Shawn Bubany’s record-setting run of 2:08 the year before.  Also breaking last year’s record were 30-mile record-holder Henry Pratt, who came in second place, and Shawn himself who broke his own record by 4 minutes and came in third place.  Daichi won the race in 2016, but didn’t finish in 2017 due to taking a wrong turn on the course.  Toni Schwartz of Salt Lake City won the female division in 2:38:33, breaking Sierra Jech’s record from the year before by 2 minutes.

Long Path Co-chair Kevin McGuinness presenting first place 1/2 marathon prize to Daichi Inoue
Long Path Co-chair Kevin McGuinness presenting first place prize to 1/2 marathon winner Toni Schwarz

Among the 1/2 marathoners, I’d like to recognize Cindy Wagner, who is a NY-NJ Trail Conference volunteer who maintains a section of the Shawangunk Ridge Trail in the southern Gunks.  Cindy does impeccable work on a tough section of the trail in the southern Gunks with a lot of scrub oak.  I’d also like to recognize Patty Lee Parmalee, who is a a four-time finisher of the race and holds the distinction of being the oldest participant at 78 years.  Patty is an inspiration to all of us youngsters who hope to keep moving even as we get older.

Photos:  Steve Aaron Photography


The Shawangunk Ridge Trail is the creation of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, a not-for-profit organization with 2,000 volunteers who maintain 2,100 miles of trails in the Hudson Valley.  I’d like to thank all of the volunteers who work on the Long Path and Shawangunk Ridge Trail under the leadership of Long Path Co-Chairman Kevin McGuinness and West Hudson program coordinator Sona Mason, who also helped us manage the finish line, and additionally recognize Trail Conference cartographer Jeremy Apgar who created the special cellphone map that runners use to navigate the unmarked race course.  We were honored to have Kevin present the first-place prizes to the division winners this year.

As part of the online registration process, 38 runners made voluntary donations to the Trail Conference totaling $1,185.  Thank you, runners.

For race organizers, safety is the first priority, and we would not hold an unsupported event on an unmarked course without search and rescue capabilities.  Thank you to New Jersey Search and Rescue lieutenant Bill Winterbottom and Sam’s Point Search and Rescue team members John Schumaci, Jerry Gardner, Tom Atwell, Dan Kelly, Andrew Stoll, John Barton, and Jim Spoor.  SPSAR was busy on Saturday, not only rescuing the 50-miler who got turned around, but also arranging vehicular evacuation for two runners in Minnewaska who fell behind the cut-off, and picking up another runner who was wandering on the roads at night.

In order to deploy search and rescue teams, should that become necessary, we operate a series of six checkpoints overseen by Safety Officer Kathleen Rifkin and staffed by volunteer course marshals.  Thank you, Dave Castner, Kal Ghosh, Don Cohen, Chris Regan, Kevin Bukowski, Sue Eby, Judy O’Neill, David Miller (a New York-New Jersey Trail Conference volunteer who works on the SRT), Charlie Gadol, Evelyn Heinbach, Derek Doran, Rich D’Ambrosio, Melanie Mueller (70-mile female record-holder and NYNJTC volunteer, too), Vlad Diaz, Lisa Zucker Glick, and Jim Porter.  New for 2018 was a sweep team who covered the last twenty miles of the course while shadowing the back of the pack and maintaining radio communications with the RD and SAR teams:  Thank you Tom DeSimone, Amy Hanlon, and April DeFrancesco.

Thank you to Kathy Mahady, Stacy Cameron, Yvonne Nedbal, and Dan Hart for helping with parking, check-in, scoring, and picking up runners from the check points.

Thank you to staff at all the agencies which permitted the event, including NJ DEP, NY DEC, Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Mohonk Preserve, the town of Rosendale, and the Wallkill Valley Land Trust, as well as private landowners who allow the race to cross over their property.

Thank you to Tom Bushey and Steve Aaron for taking photos that captured the spirit of the event.

First place finisher tomahawks crafted by Larry Cly of the Navajo tribe.  Radios furnished by Goosetown Communications.  Beer provided by Six Point Brewery, Brooklyn.

Registration is now open for the sixth edition of the SRT Run on September 13-14, 2019.  To sign up please visit: https://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?did=60633.


Crossing the Rosendale Trestle on the way to the finish line.  Credit:  Suzy Allman

2018 SRT Race Director’s Report

More in Moab

My objectives:  explore the desert, get acclimated to the heat, build back some running stamina without aggravating injuries, continue to condition the feet.  The goal isn’t to overdo things, but still to do a lot, and this requires an aggressive tempo of operations:  breakfast, run or hike, dinner, plan the next day’s activities, bed — repeat.  The planning is time-consuming:  there’s an overwhelming volume of information on the internet, and not all of equal quality.  My best source turns out to be the motel clerk who’s been exploring this area with his wife for the last ten years.

Continue reading “More in Moab”

More in Moab

Ian Erne’s Rock The Ridge Race Report

Recently I’ve posted about different ways of talking to yourself while running, and in reading Ian’s race report from a 50-mile ultramarathon in the Shawangunks, I was impressed by his thoughtful strategy for mitigating risky conditions and his on-the-move decision-making.

By guest author, Ian Erne (shared with his permission – thank you, Ian):

I managed to finish the RockTheRidge 50-miler on a very rainy day with temperatures in the 40s. Approximately 100 of my fellow ultramarathon enthusiasts/competitors had to DNF for various reasons. Hypothermia being the biggest reason. As I stated in a previous post, I was under-trained, but felt I could finish if I ran conservatively and intelligently.

ian 1

Continue reading “Ian Erne’s Rock The Ridge Race Report”

Ian Erne’s Rock The Ridge Race Report

Tim Ela’s 2017 SRT Race Report

Tim was the 2017 first place male finisher in the 70-mile division.  He set a new course record of 18:11, and this is also the new unsupported fastest known time for the Shawangunk Ridge Trail of 19:17 hours (the FKT does not net out the waiting time at check point #3, as explained below).

Continue reading “Tim Ela’s 2017 SRT Race Report”

Tim Ela’s 2017 SRT Race Report

2017 SRT Race Director’s Report

The fourth edition of the SRT Run took place September 15-16, 2017 with nearly 200 registered participants across all divisions, up 35% from the year before.  The SRT Run has a minimalist format, meaning there are no aid stations (we don’t provide food or water) and no supplemental course markings.  As one participant put it, “they don’t coddle the runners.”  But the truth is, the runners don’t need a lot of hand-holding.  At the start for each division, steely determination was evident in their faces, and then once moving, exhilaration, and when finally at the finish, relief.  And maybe there were some points in between where it was necessary to grit the teeth.  Results included three new course records, countless personal bests, at least one first-time ultramarathon finish, and remarkably a runner who completed the 30-mile division barefoot — and there were also some disappointments because the weather was hot, the trail is rugged, and the mountains, unyielding.

Organizers created this event to celebrate a magical trail that crosses the entire length of the Shawangunk Mountains, or the “Gunks” as they are called, an area identified by the Nature Conservancy as “one of Earth’s last great places.”  By promoting awareness of the SRT, we hope to build support for further conservation. Continue reading “2017 SRT Race Director’s Report”

2017 SRT Race Director’s Report

Rock The Ridge and the Number Three

By guest author Lisa Zucker Glick

On May 6, 2017 I participated for the third time in the Rock the Ridge 50 miler.  This event is a   fundraiser for the Mohonk Preserve.  It has a generous cutoff of 24 hours. The event is designed for the average runner/ hiker to be able to complete the entire distance.  There is a registration fee as well as a fundraising minimum.  I chose not to fundraise and pay the amount myself.  These are my trails in my backyard.  I know the  importance of  protecting and caring for this great gift of the Mohonk Preserve.

Continue reading “Rock The Ridge and the Number Three”

Rock The Ridge and the Number Three

Rock The Ridge 2017 Co-Director’s Report

As co-director of Rock The Ridge it’s a great thrill for me to see the participants moving through the mountains and especially the expressions on their faces when they reach the finish.  Even more remarkable is their good work raising funds for the Mohonk Preserve (New York’s largest not-for-profit nature preserve and host for the event), the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the NY-NJ Trail Conference, and other causes.  With close to $250,000 raised in 2017 alone, the event is now approaching a cumulative five-year total of one million dollars, an outcome which brings a mix of joy and astonishment to the organizers.

As co-director it is also my job to run in the event, so that organizers have a clear understanding of the participant experience.  In past years, this has been great fun, for example, in 2015 when I won the master’s division and set a personal record.  But as one gets a little older, fifty miles gets a little tougher, and in 2016 my time was quite a bit slower.

As I stepped up to the starting line this year, the only goal was to finish.  This would be my first ultramarathon since Rock The Ridge the year before, thanks to a long series of injuries.  Two weeks before the race, I was feeling good, but then with one week to go the posterior tibialis tendon (which runs underneath the ankle on the inner side of the foot) flared up once again.

But even if my strategy was to take it easy, there might still be ways to make this an interesting and challenging event.  I could run the fifty miles without taking any calories, and I’d see how far I could get without drinking.

Continue reading “Rock The Ridge 2017 Co-Director’s Report”

Rock The Ridge 2017 Co-Director’s Report

Discovering the Grid

Low hills flank the Thru-way, and through the car window you see mostly trees.  On the drive up this morning, the sky is clear, and the sun’s rays are pouring down with such intensity that every detail of the passing trees stands out:  stout trunks spattered with lichen and tangled with vines, leafless branches reaching, twisting, interweaving.  The clarity is astonishing:  it’s like a geometric pattern, brightly-lit but bewildering.

However, there’s a spot just north of New Paltz where the road dips and the hills pull back, and for a moment a vista of the Catskill Mountains is revealed.  This morning they appear huge and rounded, a soft mottled mix of brown and tan, flanks dappled with blue cloud shadows.  The detail has seemingly melted away with distance, and the mountain plateau looks like some kind of lost world – but the vision is divulged for only an instant before the road rises back into the hills again.

Of course, closer to the mountains more details emerge; the ridge tops resolve into jagged lines of spruce and fir tinged white.  I arrive at the Devil’s Tombstone Campground full of enthusiasm, imagining all the peaks I could climb today, but on opening the car door, feeling the cool air, and staring down at the ice sheet that covers the parking lot, some reality seeps back in.  Also, with a few aches and pains to be mindful of, maybe it’d be smarter to take it easy.

Continue reading “Discovering the Grid”

Discovering the Grid

Light and Ice in Minnewaska

John Burroughs once wrote that to be an observer is to “find what you are not looking for.”  With this thought in mind, I set off for a trail run in Minnewaska State Park Preserve a couple of weekends ago, with no particular goal but to cover some ground and open my eyes.  Perhaps I’d observe something that I wouldn’t have even thought of looking for.

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Light and Ice in Minnewaska

Alan Davidson’s 2016 SRT-70 miler Race Report

(published with permission of the author)

By Alan Davidson

It was around 6pm on Friday, September 16th when a bunch of SRT 70-Mile participants hopped off a yellow school bus to meet the remaining SRT 70-Mile participants at High Point State Park in New Jersey. Like a school bus of children on their first day of school, we were excited and nervous (and most of us had to pee). After a quick race briefing from the Race Directors, we were off to the starting line at the SRT’s southern terminus. We snapped a starting line photo and the RDs let us loose on our journey to Rosendale, a 72 mile trek along the Shawangunk Ridge Trail.

Continue reading “Alan Davidson’s 2016 SRT-70 miler Race Report”

Alan Davidson’s 2016 SRT-70 miler Race Report