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Sunday, April 18, 2004 -- Hopwood, PA
Mount Summit Challenge (iPO Event Id#: 6212)
Story and photos by Jason Black

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results] [Results by Class]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6] [Set 7] [Set 8] [Set 9]
[Set 10] [Set 11] [Set 12] [Set 13] [Set 14]
[2000 Coverage] [2001 Results] [2002 Coverage] [2003 Results]

Mount Summit
The uphill climb is half the fun
It has been said that to conquer a summit one must be able to accomplish mind over matter, but for some, the inspiration to race up a 1,200 foot "mountain" as fast as you can comes from nothing more than hometown pride. The Mount Summit Challenge is not just an event in the peaceful town of Hopwood, it's a tradition.

The origin of this race is as unique as the race itself. As the story goes, a couple of friends were at a local pub discussing who was the better athlete. Instead of letting the matter drop they placed a wager on who could run to the top of the mountain the fastest, who won the race is probably still a matter of discussion. But the real winner has to be the town of Hopwood because a annual race was born.

The participants of the Hopwood annual event had to feel like they were on a stairway that at high noon seemed to lead right to the sun. One of the race volunteers said, "It 's a far cry from rain at the bottom and snow at the top like some of the races of the past." Waiting for the contestants who braved the journey was a beautiful indeed. Rewarding to see it from the top, despite the heat and immense climb. Over 400 participants showed up for the challenge.

Mount Summit
Francis Molinaro feeling the burn of Mount Summit
The first person to the top, Francis Molinaro (28:08) exclaimed, "I was really surprised at my finish. I took 8th place last year and I ran slower this year, but it was 40 degrees hotter!" Close on his heels in the first mile was the woman's first place finisher Tammy Slusser (28:42). "I ran this in 2000, so I knew what to expect." said Slusser, "I didn't think the heat was too bad for a 3 miler, but if it had been the Boston Marathon it might have been rough." Kenny Miller ran second overall for the men, while third was claimed by Steve Winters. The women second and third place finishers were Lisa Cimbala and Maggie Wissler. Along with the runners, over 200 walkers joined in the mix, with Thomas Starkey taking the overall crown for that division.

Mount Summit
Walking with the family
With the mountain looming as the biggest obstacle in the distance every runner and walker had the goal of reaching the top. Reaching the top was the most important things, so whether you finished first or last was secondary in this event. As people finished they turned to cheering spectators and urged other competitors not to give up.

"The mountains are calling and I must go." ---John Muir

For the Record... Most folks probably don't know this, but iPlayOutside was able to cover the Mount Summit Challenge because of a very special person. That person is a from Hopwood, and very, very proud to be a part of the wonderful community there. Thanks to our anonymous friend out there. You know who you are.