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Sunday, April 21, 2002 -- Hopwood, PA
Mt. Summit Challenge (iPO Event Id#: 4752)
Story and photos by Julie 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]
[2000 Complete Coverage] [2001 Results]

Race Pic
Toppin' out on Mt. Summit
Mother Nature brought the rains with her early this Sunday morning, and with the rains came over 500 dedicated, hard-core mountain climbers. As the fog rolled over the lush, green hillside of Mount Summit, in Hopwood, Pennsylvania, the racers ran up its 1,200 foot face. I believe that Robert M. Pirsig said it best when he exclaimed, "The only Zen you find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there."

The 3.5-mile race has quite a history, born late at night from a friendly wager between old friends. The desire to reach this hilltop in Western P.A. has grown over the years. Eighteen years ago or so, it began when two buddies tried to "out-do" each other in the middle of the night by running from a local pub up the mountain in under an hour. Now hundreds of people long to see just how far (and how fast), their legs will carry them up Route 40 to the top of Mount Summit.

Race Pic
Having fun whatever the weather
Runners and walkers flooded the starting line from 5 different states to race in the rain, and despite the cold temperatures, many finished with big smiles on their faces. There was no way to hide their feelings of accomplishment, especially with the added factor created by the weather. For 2002, the mountain provided more challenges than just it's steep path to the finish line.

There is one man whose dedication seems to get more intense every year. This road warrior from Pittsburgh is none other than Eric Wilkins, who has won the Summit Challenge for more than the last dozen years. Proving that experience really does matter, Wilkins approached the top of the hill with a steady pace to claim his 15th year as the "King of the Mountain" with a time of 24:14.

Race Pic
On the way to the long climb up Route 40
West Virginia racer Brooks Crislip(25:36), of Morgantown hammered out a 7 minute uphill pace to keep ahead of Geo Toomey(26:10), of Bethel Park, PA. Crislip finished a strong 2nd while Toomey rounded out the top three in the overall run.

Marcy Desak topped the summit all alone with no other female in sight as she plowed her way to 1st for the women with a time of 31:13. Gretchen Wood climbed up the mountain and the podium improving on her 1st place finishing time in 2001. Wood (33:03), finished 5 seconds ahead of Carol Davis(33:08) to take 2nd while Davis crossed the line 3rd.

The first speed walker to finish in 2001, Thomas Starkey of Millsboro, PA was at it again this year climbing the wet pavement to victory in 37:14 and break the tape yet again. Another racer whose name is often listed in the top 3 of many 5K race walks is Ken James. James (38:22), captured 2nd in the walk.

Race Pic
Maybe the sun will come out... next year
The 3rd overall winner of the walk and 1st female finisher was smiling Jamie Brooks with a time of 39:42.

Located at the base of the Laurel Highlands, Hopwood is close to many great outdoor attractions for families. While you're in Hopwood, PA for the next Mount Summit Challenge stay the whole weekend and take a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater or Kentuck Knob home, see the Historic Battlefield: Fort Necessity, or check out Laurel Caverns just to name a few things to do. For more information about these attractions go to the Fayette Chamber of Commerce Web site at