FOOT NOTES: Taking on the “secret” trails


Some day, perhaps in my next life, I’d love to own a home with a secret room.

It could be a trap door to a basement bunker, or a library that implements the traditional pull-a-book gimmick. I’m not too picky.

I’d fill that room with snacks, games, and maybe even a treadmill to complement an office working space. It would be a place of leisure, yes, but also a space for shelter, be it from an attack or even just two children arguing over who gets the purple cup.

A guy can dream, right?

Until that day comes, I’ll have to settle for my own “secret” running trails, many of which are available to the public, but often cleverly hidden. You won’t find these places with a simple google search, rather you just discover them as you settle into and become local to an area.

When I was a kid, that area was my quarter-mile driveway and the surrounding woods. In college I discovered the “goat path” as a shortcut to various party destinations. Later in life I stumbled across a hidden pathway that leads to a mountain overlook offering a breathtaking view of Juniata County.

Near my home in Carlisle, I’m lucky to say I have two such “hidden gems” within running distance. The first is a series of trails that slither across the borders of a retired PA Turnpike exit, one of which leads to a generously-spaced creek clearing that is perfect for fishing or deep meditation.

My second “private” go-to trail is actually a residential farm driveway that is more than a mile long. It’s easy to miss the sign, but the driveway doubles as an entrance to a graveyard dating back to the Revolutionary War. When I’m in this space, I can hear nothing but the fields of wheat blowing in the distance. There’s a tingly, cold aura that comes with exploring this graveyard, one that’s hard to put into words, but it makes me feel oddly connected to a long-gone time in history.

Do you have any of these types of off-the-beaten-path destinations near your home? I’ll bet you do. Find those places, and go there knowing there are eight billion people in the world, and not a single one of them can bother you when you’re that far “off the grid.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, since I don’t yet have a hidden room to retreat to, I have to find a way to peacefully resolve this purple-cup quarrel.


We’ve officially reached the point of mid-winter, and it’s only going to get warmer and brighter from here. So there’s no excuse to not go for a run and work out those winter blues, or as they like to say in Chambersburg: Run your ice off.

The Franklin County running scene took a big step forward as a record 299 runners and walkers crossed the finish line at Sunday’s Run Your Ice Off 5K, the final event of Chambersburg IceFest. The race was won 15-year-old Aiden Alleman of Fayetteville, who blitzed through at a 5:28/mile clip to win in 16:58, nearly 15 seconds ahead of the field. The top female was Chambersburg’s Amanda Balzer, who finished seventh overall in 19:04.

Fayetteville’s Aiden Alleman, 15, won the Run Your Ice Off 5K with a time of 16:58.

Chambersburg landed three other runners in the Top 10, including Liam Kirkpatrick (3rd in 17:43), Owen Shrader (6th in 18:40), and Bill Dann (8th in 19:19). Fayetteville’s Julian Clark was fifth in 18:30, Greencastle’s Matthew Smith was ninth in 20:02, and Waynesboro’s James Smith finished 10th in 20:05.

Other top runners from the race include Chambersburg’s Tyler Seibert (20:09), Sarah Boward (2nd female in 20:32), James Kinton (20:35), Samantha Faust (20:54), and Abigale Bricker (20:55), Waynesboro’s Ryan Kelley (20:43), Dalton McKean (22:40), and Stephen Bui (23:28), and Mont Alto’s Angie Fuss (25:28).

Rod Smith (4188) of Chambersburg pumps his fist for the camera while competing at the Run Your Ice Off 5K.

Over the previous weekend, Danielle DeFelice of Greencastle pulled a double, running the Springettsbury 10K on a Saturday and the Chilly Cheeks 11K in Reading on a Sunday. She completed the Springettsbury 10K in 1:05:01, before marching through the trails at the Chilly Cheeks race to a finish in 1:47:41.

Finally, in Huntingdon, a pair of Chambersburg runners took on the Standing Stone Trail at the Greenwood Furnace Snowfest 5-Miler. Eric Guyer (53:46) and Stacy Guyer (1:14:52) both earned third-place awards in the 50-59 AG.

And now, a look ahead:

Medal Madness Mardis Gras 5K/10K: Saturday, 8:30 a.m., in New Cumberland. Swing by this race in Roof Park to earn a nifty race medal. Find the race on

Groundhog (Almost) Half Marathon: Sunday, 9 a.m., in Gettysburg. Take on 12.87 miles of running in this race, starting from Gettysburg and ending in Emittsburg, Md. Register for the race at

Cupid’s Chase 5K: Saturday, Feb. 11, 10 a.m., in Harrisburg. Zip through City Island in this popular race. Learn more at

Also: Frozen Snot 13.5 Miler (Saturday, in McElhattan); Medal Madness Mardis Gras Half Marathon (Saturday, Feb. 11, in York); Shiver by the River 5K/10K (Saturday, Feb. 11, in Scranton); State College YMCA Indoor Triathlon (Sunday, Feb. 12, in State College); Super Bowl 10 Miler (Sunday, Feb. 12, in Douglassville); Tri to Help Pennsylvania Indoor Triathlon (Sunday, Feb. 12, in Lancaster).

Foot Notes is a self-syndicated column by Central Pa. sportswriter Andy Sandrik that has been “running” since 2016. Andy always follows back on Strava and can be reached by email at [email protected].

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