PA \"Chicks\" and \"Dudes\" tangle with Tussey Mountain - reuniting with teammates and a common goal

So what do you do four years out of college when you and your old running buddies want to get together again?

You organize a couple of teams and run the Tussey Mountainback 50-mile relay up by Penn State University. At least that's what two of my former Moravian College teammates did.

Former Moravian College cross country team members r
eunited to run the annual Tussey Mountainback 50-mile relay
on Oct. 7. Pictured in this women's photo of Track Cult-The Chicks is,
from left, to right, captain Erin Boyle (Nazareth Academy),
1998 PIAA 2A 3,200 champion Heidi Wolfsberger (Riverside High),
Heather McGarvie (New Jersey) and Jenn Wagner (Wilson High, Easton)
Not pictured, the author, Kimberly Jaick Soden
(Southern Lehigh 1998 and XC AA state medalist)
(Photo by some random girl)

Erin Boyle (a 1998 graduate of Nazareth Academy) and Chris Dewalt (a 1997 Easton High grad) took on the challenge of creating a men's and women's team for this fall's race, held Oct. 7.

Apparently everyone is still in pretty good shape. In honor of our old name on campus, Erin and Chris created the two teams — Track Cult-The Chicks, and Track Cult-The Dudes.

The Chicks team was made up of five of the seven members of Moravian's 2001 All-American team and we didn't disappoint. We won the women's division running the 50 miles in 5 hours, 33 minutes to break the course record by close to an hour. We were fifth overall.

"There is something about competing in a team event that just brings you back to college days," Erin said. "It was awesome riding around in a van with you ladies again, strange as that may sound."

After each leg we scooped up the finisher and drove along the course (a one-lane dirt and gravel mountain road) to get to the next hand-off spot before our runner finished.

The Dudes did pretty well, themselves, finishing second overall. Their squad also featured two Lehigh University alum (one of whom was Erin's brother, Pat, a 2001 grad of Holy Ghost Prep, the other was Sam Kirk, a 2001 Soloanco High grad) and our coach, Mark Will-Weber. Riding in the van was the easy part.

The race was broken up into 12 legs of varying distance and difficulty and teams could have anywhere from two to eight runners on them. Track Cult-The Chicks had just the five of us.

A men's team was also formed that consisted of Moravian and Lehigh University
runners as well as former Hounds coach Mark Will-Weber.
From front to back are captain Chris Dewalt (Easton High),
Tim Pfluger (Northern Lehigh), James Hillary (Easton) and Will-Weber.
(Photo by ErIn Boyle)

Myself and 1998 PIAA Class 2A 3,200-meter champion Heidi Wolfsberger (Riverside High, 1998) each had three legs. Erin, 1999 Wilson High (Easton) grad Jenn Wagner and Jerseyite Heather McGarvie each had two.

I got to kick things off at 8 a.m. in the morning and boy did I have a wake-up call.

Of course I was going to run up the mountain for my 3.2-mile leg, but in my desire to take down Chris, who was leading off for the men's team (there were bets I would beat him), probably made me go out a little too frisky.

After struggling through a 6:40 straight-up hill first mile I stayed determined to keep within 20 seconds of him.

That's about how far back I was when I handed off the baton (an early '90s "slap bracelet, Google it if you don't know what I mean) off to Heidi, who got to run back down the mountain.

However Chris handed off to James Hillary, a 1995 Easton High grad, who broke away from us for good.

Other men's team members included Tim Pfluger (1996, Northern Lehigh), Chris Lowthert (1995, Pottsville) and Justin Arnold of New Jersey.

Our mission then became to catch the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a men's team that sported ninja bandanas and leg and arm bracelets that matched the color of each of the "Heroes in a Half Shell."

Your's truly took them down on my second leg, which was 5.3 miles so mission accomplished.

"We attacked each leg as it came, uphill or down, and had a lot of fun working hard together," Erin said. "That's what made us so great as a college team, and it still makes us a force to be reckoned with today."

LEFT: correspondent Kim Jaick Soden hands off the "baton," a early '90s slap bracelet, to Wolfsberger
at the end of the first leg. RIGHT: Wolfsberger, who was also a national champion in the 1,500 meters
at Moravian, brings the women's relay home in record-setting fashion.
(Photo by ErIn Boyle)