You've run the roads, hiked the trails, climbed three mountains and you get to the base of Pok-O-Moonshine. All you want to do is try and finish, preferably as quickly as possible.
However, for the second year in a row, that mission has been made somewhat more lengthy, if not difficult.
As was the case in 2017, the trail up Pok-O has again gone through a longer re-routing. Last year, it was a new lower section, with switchbacks. Now it's the area above the first clearing, leading to the old ranger's cabin. "Just like last time, the trail is much better," said veteran Patcher Jim Kobak. "But, it's again a lot longer."
NEW TRAILS MANDATED
While the Patch Sprint course - and even part of Pok-O - still allows for some options, racers and trekkers are required to follow these new trail sections. "I've already been in touch with the state DEC," said event organizer Tim Singer. "They have asked that we use only the new route. Since we already have to apply for a permit to be on top (with so many participants), we have no choice but to respect their wishes."
One benefit of the new trail, according to Kobak, is that "it's level enough where some people can run it, if they're into that kind of thing. It could make for a very interesting race finish."
This is the third re-routing - all longer - this decade. The approximate total length of the course is now a shade over 13 miles.
"The two-hour barrier may remain safe for awhile," said Singer. "With the new length, this may now be the hardest half-marathon in the east!"