Ready to hit the trail

Melanie Pattison loves running and hiking through Oil Creek State Park, smelling nature and even seeing an occasional bald eagle glide overhead. On Saturday, she will set off into the park for her second attempt at completing the 50K portion of the Oil Creek 100 Trail Runs.

>> That’s Melanie Pattison’s advice to anyone thinking about taking up trail running.

The 59-year-old endurance ‘newbie’ will be taking on the OC100’s 50K this weekend.

Melanie Pattison recently rediscovered running after a more than 40-year hiatus.

She doesn’t run to win anything.

Primarily, she says, she runs to experience nature, and to make it to the finish line.

And, at 7 a.m., on Saturday, the 59-year-old business manager for CTC Packaging, in Sandy Lake, will make her second attempt to complete the rugged 50K portion of the Oil Creek 100 Trail Runs.

“In 2014, I attempted the 50K,” she explained. “I ran into issues. But, I made it 23 miles, without training.”

A 50k is just over 31 miles.

The continually growing event has three races, the 50K, the 100K and the 100-miler.

Over the past year, she has been training, off and on, making time before or after work to get a few miles in. Running short distances on streets during the week, with longer distances on the weekends.

All this coming from her participation in the OC100 in 2012.

Three years ago, Pattison volunteered alongside avid local runner and Drake Well Marathon Race Director Adam Peterson at Aid Station 3.

Witnessing the community that surrounds the long-distance runners along Oil Creek State Park’s rugged trails, she decided to reintroduce running to her life.

“I ran track for Titusville High School in the 1970s,” Pattison said. “I didn’t run again until two and a half years ago.”

After beginning with casual jaunts, she started running a series of 5Ks “for health and for different charities,” she said.

Pattison said she also takes part in fitness training at the Titusville YMCA, such as cross training and lifting weights.

In July, she ran in the inaugural Hundred Acre Wood 10-mile/5K.

That race was founded and organized by local trail runner Scott McCray.

“Scott McCray took me on my first trail run, and encouraged me to try the 50K,” Pattison noted. “I probably wouldn’t have tried without his encouragement.”

McCray will be running the 100K segment of the OC100.

Pattison added that fellow runner Katie Gilbert was also an inspiration in her efforts, as well as OC100 Race Director Tom Jennings.

“The trail running community and volunteers are amazing,” she said.

Pattison stresses that anyone can get into the running world, even if they don’t necessarily like to run, instead focusing on the wealth of local nature to explore.

“You can hike a 50K if you want,” she said.

This year, she said her game plan is “to power walk the hills, run on the flats, walk over rocks, and take smaller steps down the hills. If push comes to shove, I’ll just walk.”

Pattison said that, no matter the pace you cut through the forested hillsides and valleys, “you’re considered a runner.”

She called the terrain “rough,” and said the trails of Oil Creek State Park are among the top 15 percent in difficult trails.

Her goal is to finish the 31-mile trot in 12 hours.

“I am definitely a newbie,” Pattison cheerfully admits.

While she may consider herself new to the sport of endurance running, she has some sage advice for those looking to take their first step into the world of distance running.

“Go for it. Just go for it. You’ve got nothing to lose.”

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