State College, Pa. – The podium at the pre-race dinner for this year’s Tussey Mountainback 50 Mile Relay and Ultramarathon will feature a runner and Penn State alum who has outdistanced serious life challenges and keeps on going.
Don Halke has been through a heart attack, stents, a quadruple bypass, received a pacemaker, and completed more than 100 ultramarathons, and he keeps on running. He has started the 50-mile event of the Tussey Mountainback 50 Mile Relay and Ultramarathon 15 times and finished it 12 times.
So, what brings him back to the Mountainback year after year?
“That’s easy,” said Halke. “[Race director] Mike [Casper], his volunteers, the challenging course and most importantly, the community-based charities that are selected to benefit from the race proceeds.”
People who know him well also know that Halke posts a photo nearly every weekend from his latest adventure hike or race.
A graduate of Penn State, Halke worked as a CPA and director of auditing for the PA Public School Employees Retirement System. He and his wife also operate the Lost Horizons farm, which was at one time the second largest sheep operation in Perry County.
“I’m retired now, but I do a lot of other things, including operating our sheep farm and volunteering with the Tuscarora State Forest to perform trail work. But running and hiking are what enriches my soul.”
Halke’s warm personality and humility inspire everyone he meets.
“None of us knows how long we will be here and able to play in the woods, running with our friends. Don’t waste a minute, go do it,” he advises. “Make memories you will cherish to carry you through when you no longer can.”
“None of us knows how long we will be here and able to play in the woods, running with our friends. Don’t waste a minute, go do it. Make memories you will cherish to carry you through when you no longer can.”
- Don Halke
Tickets for the pre-race dinner, set for Saturday, Oct. 15, at Toftrees Golf Resort, are $25 each and can be reserved at email@example.com or 814-424-1314. Participants in the Mountainback race can also add tickets to their registration. The dinner is open to the public. Reservations will be accepted through Oct. 10.
Proceeds from the 2022 Mountainback support the Dyslexia Reading Center of Central PA, a nonprofit group that helps local youth and adult clients to triumph over this challenging disability. For more information about the Dyslexia Reading Center, visit https://dyslexiareadingcenter.org/.
Details about the Mountainback race and registration information are available at www.tusseymountainback.com.To learn about volunteer opportunities, visit the volunteer page of the event website or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau is a major sponsor of the Mountainback event. Key sponsors also include KCF Technologies, Rapid Transit Sportswear, Steven Bodner Team of RE/MAX Centre Realty, Wegmans, Appalachian Outdoors, East Coast Health & Fitness, Tussey Mountain, and The Sign Stop.