The Crucible – Running – Hiking – Ultramarathon for Veterans


The hiking version of the Barkley Marathon?

I attended the Pittsburgh Marathon as a guest of Cocoa Elite and the Veterans Leadership Programs of Western Pennsylvania (VLP).  Arriving at their booth a first notice a larger red and white sign and the headline; The Crucible, 3 days, 77 miles and the figures of four hikers.  My wrapped Ultrarunners brain quickly switched into high gear.  Mmmmmm. 31517557_10105826859339113_6032969599517982720_nI met Daniel Blevins the program manager and booth mate for the weekend and asked.  Could I run that?  His replied floored me. With a slight smile and a evil sounding chuckle he replied, “I doubt it.”

This 3-day extreme journey through some of Pennsylvania’s most spectacular scenery is not for the feint of heart, but your life won’t be the same after you’ve participated in The Crucible. It’s a journey of passion, determination and personal triumph.

The 70-mile hiking trail stretches along the picturesque Laurel Mountains from the Conemaugh Gorge near Johnstown, PA where you can hike along a rocky footpath and dirt road through mountain laurel to the edge of a 1,000-foot gorge at 2,400 feet to the Youghiogheny River at Ohiopyle – located at the southern reaches of the Laurel Ridge, encompassing rugged natural beauty providing some of the best whitewater in the eastern United States, as well as spectacular scenery.

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(I may have Dan hooked on Running to Leadville)

Dan told me the challenge is not the distance, it’s the extreme rocky trails, the near constant change in elevation and the heat and humidity of Central Pennsylvania that makes the Crucible so tough.  In the 4 years that this event has be held the finishing rate, those that complete all 70-miles is around 40%.

As an ultrarunner looking for the next big challenge, could it be the Crucible? The best part of all events hosted by the VLP is that near 90% of all proceeds go back to helping the Homeless Veterans in and around the Pittsburgh area.  Their events offer more than a race, as much as it’s an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of local veterans who need housing and employment services.

Looking for your next challenge?  Consider the Crucible hike or the 335 Mile for Veterans Bike Ride from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.

Check out the VLP and see how you can help or join one of their events.