Foot Notes: Hitting the beach trails to feel at home

Andy Sandrik
Foot Notes

It was a weird feeling as I jetted down the Coastal Highway, away from my family at the beach and toward a place that felt more like home.

It had been a stressful morning along the ocean. The kids weren't exactly well behaved, and I was just struggling to settle in. It was too hot for me to sit comfortably, and when I waded deep into the waters, I could occasionally feel "bites" on the bottom of my feet, either from broken shells, claws, or perhaps one of the "16 sharks" that my 4-year-old saw (a gentleman explained to us that those were dolphins).

I tried to free myself from the unsettling feelings on my 10-mile drive, which slogged on for 40 minutes through endless stoplights and pedestrian crosswalks. The trip ended with a few turns down back roads, and when I reached my destination, I could feel a wave of relief sweep over me.

Foot Notes columnist Andy Sandrik

There were no buildings or busy streets, rather trees, trails, and just enough sand to remind me I'm near a beach. There were no tourists or party animals in sight, just a couple of locals: A high school-aged runner who zipped into the woods, and a woman offering a wave while packing up her bicycle to leave.

This is my first time running the trails at Fresh Pond, a part of Delaware Seashore State Park, and within minutes, I'm in love. I start my run with a slow jog and melt away into the trails, most of which are lined with abundant sand cacti and surrounded by trees providing desperately-needed shade. The birds are singing, while the dime-sized horse flies are doing their best to ruin my jaunt through the forest. I won't let them.

Go explore:Central Pa. summer guide: Hikes from hard to easy and family-friend trails

For a stretch of about 15-20 minutes, I'm completely at ease and living completely in the moment. But of course it can't be a Sandrik family vacation without me taking myself into "deep waters." My body and phone — hovering at 15 percent charge — hit the wall at about the same time. My shirt is completely soaked, and I can feel the heat and humidity bearing down on me ever harder with each step.

Every fork in the trails comes with a decision and I double- and triple-check to make sure I'm not running away from the path I started on. Still, doubt creeps in, and I stop my run at the 5K mark to make sure I have enough energy to get back to the car. I wave down a bicyclist and ask him if the end of the trail is near, to which he responds, "You're already there."

Foot Notes columnist Andy Sandrik enjoys the shade during a vacation run on the trails at Fresh Pond, a part of Delaware Seashore State Park.

I perk up and go back into a jog. The parking lot materializes within seconds. I am so happy knowing that I am minutes away from air-conditioning, and even happier that there is no one around to hear my loud gasps for air.

More:Get outside in PA this summer - the adventure awaits in lakes, forests and state parks

I consider myself a fairly experienced and well-conditioned runner, but running in a beach climate is something that takes more than a weekend to get used to. I'm zapped once again, but I also have a feeling of accomplishment. I was able to explore a new place, log some meaningful miles, and for once, get some quiet time.

With my workout out of the way, my anxiety transforms into an eagerness to do what I came here to do: Relax and spend time with my family. In a beach chair with a cold drink in hand, I'm once again able to peacefully live in the moment, except for when the kids are fighting over the last juice box.

Get out:Check out 12 day trips for families to take in the region

My time at the beach will be over by the time this column goes to print, and I know that I'll be fully focused on returning to my home and work routines. I also know there's a part of me that will miss the ocean, mini golf, and fantastic food. And now trails.

Family vacations always carry a certain level of stress, but I find myself more willing than ever to plan the next trip, knowing there's always a trail around the corner to make me feel more at home.

Members of the Chambersburg Fitness Center tested their skills at the Spartan race in Palmerton.

Fitness center employees place well at Spartan/Mudder events 

If the Chambersburg Fitness Center was looking for a way to showcase its benefits, it has to look no further than its own members, who traveled as a large group to compete in Spartan and Tough Mudder events in Palmerton and Long Pond, respectively.

CFC instructor and personal trainer Chris Anne Beardslee-Myers, 57, set the example at the Spartan races, where won her age group in both the Super 10K (2:53:01) and Sprint 5K (1:12:58). Other finishers from the CFC included Mike Collins (Sprint, 1:37:50), Katie Barnes (Sprint, 1:40:01), Stacey Guyer (Sprint, 1:52:12), Eric Guyer (Sprint, 1:52:10), Steve Myers (Super, 2:59:00), Matthew Walker (Sprint in 1:40:04, Super in 2:35:35), Kristy Jones (Sprint, 1:33:39), Dave Giles (Sprint, 1:39:16), Stacy Coover (Super, 3:12:26), Rick Myers (Super, 2:53:01), Ashley Clark (Sprint, 1:20:36), Tom Neil (Sprint, 1:23:55), and Lara Cubbage (Sprint, 1:35:13), with Cheryll Scholl joining the group as a runner in the Spartan Trail 10K, where she finished as the third female.

Chambersburg’s Matthew Walker pushes himself to the limit at the Toughest Mudder in Long Pond.

More:Foot Notes: 'You just have to get off your butt': Central Pa. man isn't slowing down at 75

Two athletes from the aforementioned group -- Steve Myers and Walker -- took on the Toughest Mudder, a 12-hour endurance event complete with mud, obstacles, and pain. Myers finished five laps in 9:19:26, while Walker completed three laps in 3:19:05.

In Chambersburg, 27-year-old Adam Harriger was the fastest man at the Tim & Susan Cook Memorial Mile, which made its return after being canceled in 2020. Harriger, a CASHS and Elizabethtown College grad, won the men's race in 4:37 over Christopher Diaz (4:43), Brayden Boyd (4:50), Karter Reath (4:56), Scott Long (5:08), Alex Dobler (5:19), Bill Dann (5:23), Walker Mason (5:27), Bryton Hazelton (5:30), and Peter Vincenti (5:37).

Rising CASHS senior Olivia Reick improved one spot from her runner-up finish in 2019, with the 17-year-old conquering the women's field in 5:39 over Alexis Boyd (5:52), Allison List (5:56), Christina Herman (6:00), Michelle VanHorn (6:09), Emma Armstrong (6:13), Dani Mason (6:15), Isabella Dymond (6:26), Emma Grove (6:30), and Mary Gasper (6:33).

Chambersburg’s Matthew Walker pushes himself to the limit at the Toughest Mudder in Long Pond.

Two other short-distance racing events were featured at the Pete Wright Memorial Track and Field Series in Hagerstown. The one-mile race saw Boonsboro's Henry Schmidt zip to victory in 4:48 over Ethan Connelly (5:11) and Hagerstown's Bryan Seifarth (5:12). The top female was Boonsboro's Caroline Matthews (5:42).

In the Pete Wright two-mile race, Gabe Conder cruised to victory in 11:02 over fellow Hagerstown runner Dharma Bhatt (12:49).

In Frederick, Md., Jana Fridrichova won herself another race, topping the women's field and finishing second overall at the Catoctin 25K. She posted a 2:42:31 to lead a group of area runners that include Waynesboro's Stephen Bui (3:59:07), Greencastle's Ryan Yost (4:07:54), Fayetteville's Stephanie McBeth (4:10:55) and Scott Maurer (4:15:18), Mercersburg's Mitch Hawbaker (4:25:31), Smithsburg's Anne Shubert (5:03:49), and Hagerstown's Martha Grib-Kachman (5:07:32).

The Catoctin 50K featured finishes from Hagerstown's Zach Schreiber (6:42:25) and Chambersburg's Reece O'Connell (8:31:20) and Trisha Thomas (8:31:23).

Greencastle's Ryan Barnhart logged a Top 10 finish at the Hagerstown Triathlon, which drew a fair number of Franklin and Washington County athletes. Barnhart posted a 57:18 to finish seventh, while Chambersburg's Sarah Boward finished as the second female with her time of 1:00:45. Barnhart and Boward were followed by Hagerstown's William Marquiss (1:00:54), John Massey (1:11:48), Melissa Fountain (1:13:07), and Beverly Gibbs (1:59:48), Fayetteville's James Lewis (1:13:41), Smithsburg's Kyle Unger (1:14:41), and Williamsport's Jacob McElroy (1:32:43) and Jason McElroy (1:37:15). The Aqua Bike event saw Hagerstown's Brian Orndorff win in 37:36.

The top local finishers from the Hagerstown Youth Triathlon were Hagerstown's Addison Philp (8U, 17:25), Mackenzie Philp (9-10, 18:35), Alexander Philp (11-12, 26:32), and Leah Fornwalt (13-15, 33:19).

A 5K was also held in conjunction with the triathlon and saw three Hagerstown runners land in the Top 5: Ethan Downie (2nd, 20:13), Landon Downie (3rd, 21:19), and Jeremiah Downie (5th, 22:23).

In Maryland, the Frederick Half Marathon featured a number of local finishers, none faster than Hagerstown's Isaac Montgomery, who clocked a 1:28:59 to lead a group that included fellow Hagerstown runners Jamie Wisz (1:44:26), Mikaela Jerwick (1:50:02), and Nicole Tritsch (1:54:23), as well as Boonsboro's Jim Sprecher (1:47:20), Shippensburg's Kelly Kramer (1:51:23), and Waynesboro's Kyle Restau (1:52:35).

Finally, we leave off in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., where Mercersburg's Mitch Hawbaker completed 32.2 miles at the Capacon 12 Hour Challenge. Hagerstown's Donna Lehman also ran, and completed 20 miles.

Upcoming running events in the area

Wheels and Wings Festival 5K: Saturday, 7:30 a.m., in Lititz. Come for the 5K race, stay for the car show and fly-in event. Find the event on

Chuck Lesher 5K: Saturday, July 31, 8:30 a.m., in Shippensburg. Run this 5K, in its 44th year, and then celebrate with lemonade and funnel cakes at the Shippensburg Community Fair. Register for the race on

Pete Wright Memorial All Comers Track & Field Series: Tuesday, July 27, 6:30 p.m., in Hagerstown. Run, jump, and throw in this all-ages track series, which makes its fourth appearance of the summer. Find the event on

Also: Run for the Pie 10K (Saturday, in Thurmont, Md.); Kinzua Half Marathon (Saturday-Sunday, in Mt. Jewett); PA Grand Canyon Marathon (Saturday-Monday, in Wellsboro); Mt. Davis Challenge (Sunday, in Confluence); Run with the Deer Flies 25K (Sunday, in Penn Run); Run for Recovery 5K (Sunday, in Westminster, Md.); Walkersville Madison House Autism Foundation 5K (Saturday, July 31, in Walkersville, Md.); Endless Summer 6-Hour Run (Saturday, July 31, in Annapolis, Md.); Lancaster Junction Trail 5K/10K (Saturday, July 31, in Manheim); Fort Ritchie Duathlon/Triathlon (Sunday, Aug. 1, in Cascade, Md.); Pretty in Pink Breast Cancer 5K (Sunday, Aug. 1, in Walkersville, Md.).