FOOT NOTES: Chipping away at the frozen realm of winter running


If you’re reading this column from pretty much anywhere in Pennsylvania, you’re already painfully aware that we’ve gone through a number of frigid days this cold season.

And next week isn’t looking much better.

It’s a rough-and-tumble world out in this chilling environment, and most sports pack it in for the season. But for some reason — perhaps determination or maybe stupidity — runners choose to venture outside and endure.

And there’s a lot to endure. First of all, there’s the cold, which wouldn’t even be that bad if it wasn’t also accompanied by driving winds. There’s also the whole issue of darkness, too, but my biggest fear of winter running is ice. As a Clydesdale runner, I can attest there’s nothing more scary than hitting a slick patch and trying to brace yourself as you rapidly lose traction and go airborne.

If you can’t tell, I don’t have a whole lot of nice things to say about running at this time of year, but I can tell you through experience that overcoming these miserable challenges can actually be empowering.

Take the time to prepare the way you dress and pace yourself, and you just might end your workout basking in a different kind of runner’s high. It’s a “runner’s hot,” if you will, where you feel absolutely invincible to the cold as you go into your cooldown, similar as one would feel to hopping out of an outdoor hot tub and making the trek back to the house.

Of course that feeling doesn’t last more than about 30 or 40 seconds before reality sets back in and your sweat begins to freeze, giving you more of an appreciation for the feat you just achieved.

It’s one of my favorite feelings as a runner, but getting there takes a certain kind of effort and willpower. For me, I find that turning up the pace (again, watch the ice) is the fastest way to get warm, and to help the miles go by, I like to appreciate the outdoor world around me. If I’m running in town, I enjoy taking in the Christmas displays, and when I’m on the trails, the dead of the forest makes it much easier to observe wildlife.

One of my favorite running memories came when I was accompanied on an early-morning trail run by a meadow full of deer who used slow footsteps to keep pace with my downhill burst. Those deer never fled the scene. Instead they curiously watched as I puffed and panted through the uphills.

Recounting this nature story just brings back more fond memories, like trailblazing snow-covered trails with my friends, and now I’m wondering if I’ve gone too hard on winter running.

The whole challenge of cold-weather running is a lemons-into-lemonade process that really comes down to how much you like the lemonade. Honestly, the hardest part is taking the first step out. After that, you just might find that running in the cold isn’t as bad as some running columnists make it out to be.


There are so many quality runners who will go their entire lives without winning a single Turkey Trot: It’s that hard to win.

But Jonah Smith, a Smithsburg runner who ran collegiately at Mount Saint Mary’s and Frostburg State, has now conquered the Greencastle Turkey Trot 5K three times.

Smith, who won the race in 2020 and 2022, once again breezed to victory this year, crossing the finish line in 16:33, nearly a minute faster than the 509-runner field. Smith led a group of Top 10 finishers that includes Greencastle’s Ewan Coy (6th in 18:41), Chambersburg’s Ryan St. Clair (7th in 19:06) and Cole Lehman (8th in 19:12), and Waynesboro’s Noah Bockstie (9th in 19:15).

Other top performances from Greencastle were recorded by Greencastle’s Matthew Smith (19:53), Grant Murray (20:35), Gage Appenzellar (21:39), and Chloe Parks (22:36), Chambersburg’s Boston Vincenti (20:45) and Seth Brouse (21:42), Waynesboro’s Jayden Rooney (20:48), and Fayetteville’s Noah Jacobs (21:51).

Waynesboro’s Luke Manning was the fastest Turkey trotter in the Local.News coverage area, with the 21-year-old blasting to a fourth-place finish in 15:44 at the HCC Turkey Trot 5K in Hagerstown, Md. He led a speedy group of locals that includes Smithsburg’s Cameron Rejonis (19:17) and Andrew Bowers (19:52), Waynesboro’s Scott Manning (19:49), and Greencastle’s Katie Buckwalter (22:42).

The Shippensburg Turkey Trot 5K featured plenty of local talent, including Chambersburg’s Andreas Dunkel, 16, who clocked an 18:02 to finish 13th in the field of 699 runners. Dunkel was chased by Chambersburg’s Aden Goshorn (19:01), Bryton Hazelton (19:05), Kieran Dunkel (20:03), Jason Huber (20:06), and James Kinton (20:22), as well as Fayetteville’s Emilea Alleman (20:52) and Brooke Schellhase (21:31).

It’s been a big couple of weeks for Fayetteville runner Wing Lam Cheung, who used a strong Turkey Trot performance as a springboard to an overall win the following week. Competing at the Pie Gobbler 5K in Harrisburg, Cheung clocked a 23:23 to take second in the 30-34 AG. She was back on the racepaths for the Holiday 5K in New Cumberland, defeating the field of 20 runners with a time of 23:20. Cheung wasn’t the only Franklin County winner in New Cumberland: Chambersburg’s Drew Cusick won the Holiday 10K with a time of 44:02.

The Christmas Cash Dash 5K in Chambersburg drew some top-notch talent, making it hard for the aforementioned Jonah Smith of Smithsburg to earn his second win in as many weeks. Mechanicsburg’s Brian Fuller, who was a standout runner for Penn State, topped the field of 119 with a time of 15:15. Smith finished third in 16:24, while other top finishers from the race include Fayetteville’s Julian Clark (6th in 17:22), Waynesboro’s Chad Vaughn (7th in 18:24), Noah Bockstie (19:49), Ryan Kelley (22:22), and Bella Ruefle (23:53), Chambersburg’s Eyoel Delessa (18:42) and Aden Goshorn (19:30), and Greencastle’s Landon Palmer (22:47).

Chambersburg’s Zach Johle ran back-to-back races last weekend, and was the top Local.News runner in both races. On Saturday Johle clocked a 29:38 at the Candy Cane Dash 5K in Frederick, Md., before returning to the racepaths on Sunday and posting a 28:36 at the Gingerbread Dash 5K in Hagerstown, Md. Other top locals from the Gingerbread Dash include Greencastle’s Charlotte Merrbach (31:01) and Gregory Merrbach (31:02), and Waynesboro’s Jen Adler (35:30).

Greencastle’s Phil Michael traveled to Inwood, W.Va. for the South Berkeley Christmas 5K and represented Franklin County well, finishing the race in 20:57.

The Rehoboth Seashore Marathon in Delaware saw Waynesboro’s Jesse Whitney blaze through the race in 3:28:14. Chambersburg’s Chris Monheim was a solid performer at the Rehoboth Half, finishing the race in 1:36:58.

A number of others were active in races across the region, including Waynesboro’s Joseph Padilla (37:22 at Trot Against Poverty 5K), Greencastle’s Ryan Bland (26:07 at Livonia Turkey Trot 3.4 Miler), Mark Taylor (30:00 at Boalsburg Turkey Trot 5K), and Thomas Willingham (50:43 at 5K Before the Feast), Fayetteville’s Sherri Holmes (34:40 at Sticks & Biscuits Thanksgiving Day 5K), Chambersburg’s Andrew Coldsmith (23:04 at Thundering Pickle 5K), Dru Miller (27:44 at East Berlin Turkey Trot 5K), Amy Wilson (28:16 at Bethany Beach Turkey Trot 5K), Stephen Kasper (28:52 at SMT Turkey Trot 5K), Kiana Herman (30:43 at Eastern Panhandle Turkey Trot 5K), Sandra Krediet (39:27 at Coffee Pot Turkey Trot 5K), Ben Krimin (44:15 at ICYMCA Turkey Trot 5K), Curtis Thornton (50:34 at Ellicott City Y Turkey Trot Charity 5K), Jane Stockhausen (59:06 at Seven Summits Therapy 5K), Robin Harmon (1:03:55 at GCR Thanksgiving 5K), and Lucas Karr (58:46 at Pie Gobbler 10K), and Smithsburg’s Nicole Wilcom (30:28 at Sheppard Pratt Frederick Turkey Trot 5K).

And now, a look ahead:

Dallastown 10K: Saturday, 9 a.m., in Dallastown. The York Road Runners Club Winter Series resumes with this 6.2-mile race. Learn more on

Dashing Through the Lights 5K: Friday, Dec. 15, 10 p.m., in Lancaster. Run through the Christmas Spirit Light Show at Clipper Magazine Stadium in this jolly fun race. Search for the race on

Redman 9 Miler: Saturday, Dec. 16, 7:30 a.m., in York. Stack up more than 1,200 feet of elevation gain in this challenging trail race. Find the event on

Also: Dam Douglassville Ultra 4H/8H (Saturday, in Douglassville); Holiday 5K/10K/Half (Saturday, in York); Shiver by the River 5K/10K (Sunday, in Reading); Holiday 5K/10K (Saturday, Dec. 16, in Akron); HumBug Hustle 5K (Saturday, Dec. 16, in Reading); Naked Nick 25K/50K (Sunday, Dec. 17, in Leesport).

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