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Saturday, February 9, 2019

ERIC KOSEK IS FIRST TO COMPLETE FIVE LAPS IN MT. TOM CHALLENGE


Photo provided
Eric Kosek (right) and his wife, Becky both competed in the Jim Thorpe Half Marathon in Jim Thorpe, Pa. on April 29, 2018. He finished first in his age group and second overall. "Becky goes to all of the running events with me and competes in most of them." She participated with Eric in both the 2017 and 2018 Mt. Tom Challenges.


Photo provided
Eric Kosek (shown) finishes the Twisted Branch 100K Trail Race on Aug. 18, 2018 at Champlin Beach in Hammondsport, N.Y. From the start in Ontario County Park to the finish is 63 miles. He finished third overall and first in his age group.


Eric Kosek of Wellsboro set a new record in the Fourth Annual Mt. Tom Challenge in 2018. He was the first runner to start and complete five laps.

The Mt. Tom Challenge attracts experienced runners who enjoy testing their skills. Challenge action begins at the bottom of Mt. Tom in Shippen Township across Route 362 from the Pine Creek Rail Trail Darling Run Access.

Participants run, climb or scramble up Mt. Tom’s 1,100 vertical feet of trail to its summit, continue a short distance along the ridge and use a forest road to return to the start/finish line.

The challenge is to complete one lap up and down the mountain regardless of weather conditions. “It is for serious runners; not beginners," said organizer Tim Morey. There are no prizes, no swag bag or T-shirt and no entry fee.”

Many of those who complete one lap decide to do it again. “Each year, more participants are seeing how many laps they can do,” Morey said.

Kosek first entered the Mt. Tom Challenge in 2017. I was recovering from a knee injury and wanted to hang out with friends and test my knee to see how much I could do. I took it easy, didn't push and completed two laps,” he said. "I live close by Mt. Tom so I train on it for upcoming running events.”

"This mountain is popular with trail runners for training because it is the steepest climb mile for mile in this area," said Morey, a runner himself.

Kosek set a goal to complete five laps in the 2018 Challenge. "I knew you can start a lap any time between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. and that once you start a lap, you are allowed to complete it," he said. "The course was fast. It wasn't slippery or covered with two feet of snow. The first mile is steep and gets steeper the higher you go. It wears on your brain. You want to walk a lot," Kosek added.

"A lap is 2.4 miles. I knew that to start the fifth before 11 a.m., I had to do four laps in less than 30 minutes each." He finished the fourth with 10 minutes to spare. At 10:50 a.m., Kosek started his last lap and set a course record by completing five laps (12 miles) in two hours, 23 minutes, 11 seconds. "That's an amazing time," said Morey.

In the 2017 Challenge, Adam Kolb of Liberty took top honors by completing four laps (9.6 miles) in a time of two hours, seven minutes, 17 seconds.

"The fact that I am the first person to do five laps is cool and rewarding," said Kosek. "I am competitive. On my running journey, I keep pushing my limits to see what I can do and how I can improve. I'm always racing myself. My goal is to keep getting better.”

He runs in half marathons, marathons and ultras including 100 to 200 milers. "I began running in 2016 and do between five and ten events a year,” Kosek said. “I try to do new ones in different areas but also love our local running events, from 5Ks on up."

Kosek, his wife Becky and their eight and ten-year-old daughters will be at the Fifth Annual Mt. Tom Challenge on Sunday, Feb. 17. "I'm not sure whether I am going to enjoy the day or push hard like I did last year," he said.

For more information about the 2019 Mt. Tom Challenge, call Morey at 570-724-8561 or visit Mt.TomChallenge.com.

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