Runners ranging in age from 8 to 103 years old participated in the 24th Tussey Mountainback 50-Mile Relay and Ultramarathon on Oct. 22, with new course records set at the 50-kilometer event.
The Tussey Mountainback was held in Rothrock State Forest, and proceeds from the 2023 event support Nittany Greyhounds, a greyhound adoption organization based in Centre County.
Winners and highlights include:
Brett Mason and Garrett Campbell, both of Pittsburgh, took first and second place in the men’s 50-mile category. Mason had a time of 6:38:37 and Campbell had a time of 6:57:04.
Bianca Pourmussa, of Philadelphia, was the first woman to finish the individual 50-miler and came in seventh overall with a time of 8:14:34, just three minutes ahead of Jennifer Garis, of Port Matilda.
Sarah Morrison, of Philadelphia, won the women’s category in the 50K race while lopping 33 minutes off the course record, finishing in 4:02:15. Sam Lapp, of Pittsburgh, took top honors in the men’s 50K category, slicing more than 4 minutes off the course record and finishing in 3:23:20.
Forty-one relay teams of 2 to 8 runners took on the 12 segments that comprise the 50-mile loop course. Anne Menefee, Winter Parts and Justin Waraniak, as a team of three from State College, dubbed “Michael Palumbo Memorial Relay,” (a jab at a friend, Palumbo of State College, who took on his first 50-miler in the Tusseyback) earned the top spot, finishing just 4 minutes ahead of the second-place team, “Early Worms,” from State College and Lewistown.
Among four teams in the women’s relay category, the foursome “Are You 4 Real” (Anna Barone, Becky Brigman, Erin Morath and Laura Tyson) took top honors by 8 minutes.
Twenty-seven teams competed in the mixed category, with the title claimed by the Michael Palumbo Memorial Relay team, which was also the first mixed team to consist of men’s, women’s and nonbinary runners.
Ten teams represented the men’s category, which was dominated by a 5-person team, “The Bloody Marys” (Chris Azzolino, Dimitry Belogorodsky, Vadim Belogorodsky, Matthew Rubin and Blaze Szyszko).
The military relay category featured an 8-person team from Penn State Navy ROTC (Shane Conrad, Emmanuel Geishauser, Alexander Landis, Shane McAdams, Annika Miller, Steven Mount, Noah Ogden Tristan Ritter) that finished just 6 minutes behind The Bloody Marys.
The “Old Men of the Mountains,” comprised of eight runners 65 or older, executed their 17th consecutive circuit of the 50-mile course. They were led once again by 103-year-old team captain George Etzweiler, 103.
Another notable relay team was “The Young Chicks of the Mountain.” Norah Harpster, 11, Ella Raish, 12, and Elsa Raish, 9, had their second appearance at the race. Elsa ran legs 3 and 8, Ella ran 2, 7, and 12.
For more information about the Mountainback, visit www.tusseymountainback.com.