Take a bow, Paul Silzle, Robb Jones and Mike Metzger.
Exchange a high-five, Sarah Drake, Sandy Desmond and Kane Desmond.
Pat each other on the back, Jennifer May, Jennifer Abbott, Sherry McMeans and Coty Croker.
Thirteen area residents participated in the Megatransect at Bald Eagle Mountain State Park in Lock Haven, Pa., last month. In the first row in photo above are, from the left, Frank Quagliana, Paul Silzle and Coty Croker. In the second row, from the left, are Rick Simon, Sarah Drake, Robb Jones, Mike Metzger, Sherry McMeans and Jennifer Abbott. In the photo below are Kane Desmond, Jennifer May and Sandy Desmond. Missing is Corbin Meleen.
And Rick Simon, Frank Quagliana and Corbin Meleen? From the sounds of it, you guys were awesome, too.
Heck, anyone who was even able to attempt the Megatransect in Lock Haven, Pa., deserves some kind of special medal.
While the "ultra-hike" was held in Bald Eagle Mountain State Park last month, this was anything but a walk in the park. First of all, it was 26.2 miles. Secondly, the hike obstacles included boulder fields, cliffs, river beds and elevation gains numbering in the thousands of feet.
I hurt just typing those words.
Somehow, Jones, the Falconer resident and the group spokesman, was able to smile about the whole experience.
"We all kind of put our heads together and asked, 'What do you think?''' Jones said.
Inspired by Silzle, the lucky 13 unanimously decided to go for it. So beginning in the spring, they began training. Among the highlights were a 14-mile hike at Allegany State Park, a 16-mile jaunt on the Fred P. Cusimano Overland Trail and a more than 20-mile hike from Jamestown to Stedman.
"All those things were great,'' Jones said, "and we needed to do them, but nothing prepared you (for the Megatransect). It was even more extreme.
"This is much different than a stroll through Allegany. It is extreme hiking. It's not soft-path, multi-person trails. It's single-file and narrow with unrelenting elevations.''
So even though Jones, a product manager for Jamestown Advanced Products, had run in a marathon and half-marathon before, this was a completely different animal.
"It was at least twice as hard as a normal marathon and twice as demanding,'' Jones said.
Armed with a backpack of energy bars, water, changes of clothes and a good dose of courage, Jones and company started their hike at 7 a.m., Sept. 29. The area residents were part of a larger group of 147, most of whom were from General Electric in Erie. Of that number, Jones said, 121 finished.
"We had to be at mile 14 by 1:45 p.m.,'' Jones said. "It doesn't seem like a lot, but with the conditions you had to go through, that was part of the challenge. Your legs felt like jello at certain points, especially after the 20-mile mark.''
Fortunately, the weather was good - temperatures were in the low 60s with no rain - which Jones said was a blessing.
"We very much lucked out with the weather,'' he said. "I can't imagine that course in the pouring rain. As it was, you felt like you could have broken an ankle. You know you're going to fall and almost everybody does. You just have to bounce back, take inventory and keep on going.''
But even Jones, who completed the hike in 10 hours, couldn't have anticipated everything, including the one-foot wide paths cut out of the side of a cliff. A misstep could have resulted in a 20- or 30-foot fall.
"It was put-up or shut-up time,'' Jones said. "That was one of the harrier moments for me."
In the end, though, Jones and his crew were able to cross an item off their to-do list. Now they can say they faced their fear, including conquering the boulder fields, Rattlesnake Ridge, Gut Check, Outer Limits, The Giant Steps, the Lost Trail, Raw and Sidewinder.
When Jones finished the hike, he wolfed down some pizza and drank a beer to celebrate, but he has no plans to return to do the Megatransect again.
"I'm scratching it off my bucket list,'' he said. "I'll find something else to do."
Others in his group, though, are going to give it another go next year.
One can only imagine the stories they'll have to tell.