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Sunday, September 9, 2007 -- Helvetia, WV
10th Annual Helvetia 10K Mountain Run-MSTR #4 (iPO Event Id#: 10042)

2007: [Photos] [Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Results by Class]

Coverage: [1998] [1999] [2000] [2001] [2002] [2003] [2004] [2005] [2006]

Story by Don Parks with photos by Nathan Reckart

Photo by Nathan Reckart
Putting on the race face at the kid's run
Heather and I decided that we'd spend our second anniversary much like our first, with a weekend trip to the annual Helvetia Fair and the 10K Mountain Run. I also easily talked my friend Nathan into spending Saturday riding our bicycles from Morgantown to Helvetia, a trip of over 100 miles. Heather would meet us there in the evening for camping and festivities at the home of race directors Dan and Jody Lehmann who are always most hospitable hosts.

I had previously ridden to Helvetia in 1999 (One Day Tour to Helvetia) and again in 2003. The ride was just shy of 100 miles in the past so this time I decided to add a little extra loop around Morgantown using the Rail Trail rather than a straight shot through town.

It was a beautiful day on Saturday and the ride was as scenic as ever. All was going fairly well but the legs began to tire as the final miles approached. Then we reached the dot of a town called Adolph and the sign letting us know it was 12 more miles to Helvetia. What the sign does not mention is that those last 12 miles include climbing up and over two mountains.

I suffered up the first climb as Nathan rode off ahead. His 24-year-old legs handling the eight hours of biking much better than my 43-year-old pair. The final climb was too much and I had to get off and walk to the final summit. At least it is a nice downhill finish into town.

Photo by Nathan Reckart
Joel Wolpert would win again
Once there the festivities hadn't waited for our arrival. A live band was playing to a relaxing crowd, children were swimming in a cool mountain stream, and the clank of horseshoes could be heard nearby. It was early evening and Heather had not yet arrived so we eventually moved on a few more miles to the Lehmann house.

An evening around a campfire along with a huge feast of a cookout had us feeling quite well as we called it a night and headed for our tents. We'd decide in the morning whether or not running the 10K would be in our plans for Sunday.

Dan and Jody were up and getting prepared for the race before the rooster even began to crow (literally). I was feeling good enough that I thought I could jog with our dogs Rocky and Sunny. With Heather close to 20 weeks pregnant with our first child a moderate pace would suit us all well. Nathan opted for camera duties and I still wonder if his decision not to run was more from too much fun around the campfire than the 100 miles of biking the day before.

Photo by Nathan Reckart
The race is on at the two mile mark
As the race started we were in the back of the starting field. An odd place for Heather who last year had set a female course record of 40:49. We just watched from the back as the front runners took off and we took up a nine-minute mile pace.

Congratulations so the Schoonover's who were completing their tenth Helveria run keeping their perfect attendance record intact. Rebecca Shoonover would once again bring home top female honors for the sixth time finishing in 49:55.

On the men's side it was Joel Wolpert repeating as the overall winner after ending Larry Taylor's five year reign as Helvetia champion in 2006. But Wolpert's finish time of 36:24 was still short of Taylor's 2004 course record time of 35:51. Taylor was able to hold off Danny Fink (38:25) this year to bring home second at 38:32.

How was I doing with Heather and our two dogs? We were having quite a good time enjoying ourselves, the volunteers, an occasional word with other runners, and the beautiful outdoors. I think the difficulty of the course is actually a little overrated. I don't mean to take away from the impressive performances of the winners and you certainly will not set your 10K PR at this race. I just hope it does not intimidate some runners from attending this excellent run.

Photo by Nathan Reckart
Sunny and Rocky lead the way
The first mile is pancake flat on a relatively straight stretch of paved road where I did my best to keep the dogs out of the way of other runners. I hope no one was bothered by the dogs and most seemed to enjoy their good nature. I apologize to anyone who I passed back and forth as the dogs periodically decided it was time to stop for a drink, to visit a bush, or to just sniff around at something curious.

For the second mile you cross the Buckhannon River that the road had followed and begin a dirt road section that follows the opposite bank. This section has just a few very modest rises but certainly nothing too strenuous. This brings you back to the start and what is advertised as the beginning of a two-plus mile climb.

You're now back on pavement for a short while of what is just the slightest of an uphill grade. From there it is back onto a dirt and gravel road and things do begin to get more challenging. The road contains a number of short hills as you head toward the crux of the course that comes somewhere around mile four.

This is where you hit the ATV trail that takes you straight up the mountain for maybe half a mile or so. If the whole course were on terrain like this I would confess that this was a brutal course, but alas it is not. Heather & I walked this section as many others choose to do.

Photo by Nathan Reckart
Encouragement and smiles at the finish
The final mile and a half is a race down the mountain on a well graded dirt road. If anything this section is a bit too steep in some sections and you have to be careful not to let your legs get too far ahead of you.

Heather, Rocky, Sunny and I arrived at the finish in just over an hour with smiles on our faces. Soon the dogs were cooling off in the Buckhannon River joining a number of racers who also took advantage of the large pool of cold water.

The race day ends with plenty of refreshments, a wealth of door prizes, a new t-shirt, and awards for those that earned them. Much to Heather's surprise she took first place in her 30-39 year age group. For their efforts, Rocky and Sunny enjoyed a few cookies.

Before our drive back home (Nathan thinks we should ride our bikes back home next year) we had to make a stop at the Cheese Haus to enjoy some homemade cheese. And our visit would not be complete without a tremendous country brunch buffet at the Hutte Restaurant, a true Swiss delight.