PROMPTON, PA — Can you run 10 miles? How about 20? How about 30 miles through streams and over rocks? That’s what some runners will attempt at this year’s Prompton Punisher, a trail runners’ race, to be held June 8 at Prompton State Park.
Participants can choose to be punished in a 10-, 20-, or 30-mile trail run. The course is 10 miles, so those doing 30 miles would circle it three times. The obstacles are natural—rocks, roots, stumps, streams and hills. Race director Paul Maopolski says it’s challenging.
Maopolski started the race four years ago because he loves trail running, but found limited trails in the area and no trail runs. He and other runner friends would meet at Prompton State Park to run the trail, and he said it “sparked the idea that we needed a local trail run.”
“We live in such a beautiful area,” said Maopolski, who lives in Narrowsburg, NY with his wife Dee, who is also director of the race and will run in this year’s 30 mile loop. “Prompton State Park is such a beautiful resource; why not get a local trail run going?” And so the Prompton Punisher was born.
Maopolski got the promotional materials out early this year so runners can begin training for the Punisher. The race has what is called an ultra marathon, which is anything over 26.2 miles. The runners who choose the 30 mile option will be running an ultra marathon, which Maopolski says is “an increasingly popular distance, believe it or not.” This is the first ultra that will be held in the area.
Training for a trail run is similar to marathon training. But one difference is that in a trail race it is more difficult to keep a steady pace, because of all the twists and turns and obstacles. Maopolski said, “If you’re a consistent road runner and you run some trails, you’ll find yourself sore in new areas.” Runners will have to be more than just runners—jumping over streams and hiking up steep inclines. The mentality is different than in a marathon, where the thought is to keep your pace. In the trail run, the thought is, “how will I conserve energy?” Maopolski said this keeps your head in the game.
But keep in mind, through all the obstacles, this is still a race. There will be prizes for the male and female first place runners in each category. Everyone who finishes the race will also get a prize; just finishing the race is a huge accomplishment. “To set a personal goal and stay focused and motivated enough to attain that goal, especially one as challenging as any of these three races, is something to really be proud of,” said Maopolski.
The race is not-for-profit and 90% of the proceeds go to Hope Hill Ministry in Lake Ariel, PA to help at-risk youth in the community through equine therapy, and 10% goes to Friends of Prompton State Park. After the race, a meal will be provided by Eden, a vegan café in Scranton.
“Running and setting goals runs parallel with the challenges we face in our life,” said Maopolski. “The courses aren’t always smooth, there are obstacles involved, and that parallels most of our lives. Peaks and valleys, ups and downs, uphill and downhill, sometimes things seem like everything is moving smoothly, and other times we end up walking up that steep incline hoping it’s going to end soon. So is life. When you set a goal and you stay motivated and you train for it and you attain that goal, that’s a valuable life lesson—that you can overcome obstacles.”