Former Hamburg police chief, cousin hike N.J. Appalachian trail

About 73 mile trip takes cousins 33 hours

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  • Tim Wright (left) and Jan Wright (right) at the start of their journey on the Rt 80 bridge at the Pa/NJ line of the Appalachian Trail.

  • Then end 73.2 miles, 33 hours and 15 minutes later at the NJ/NY line.

Jan Wright, retired Hamburg Police Department Chief, and his cousin, Tim Wright, an attorney for the Public Defender's Office in Camden County recently ran/hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in New Jersey.

The two started at the Pennsylvania line at the Delaware Water Gap and finished at the New York state line by Upper Greenwood Lake. They traveled 73.2 miles, did it non stop and were not supported in any way.

Said Jan Wright, who currently works at the Sparta Police Department as the 911 Coordinator and Deputy of Emergency Management, “I am an avid Appalachian Trail hiker and thought it would be a challenge to run the entire New Jersey section of the trail. On the first attempt (June 2015) I underestimated the effort it would take. I did not train hard enough and did not have the proper mindset to complete the run. On the second attempt (June 2018) it was hot, we had hydration issues and we just quit at mile 63 after 28 hours.”

The third time was a charm.

“Our biggest challenge was taking care of our feet," Wright said. "It rained for several days before we left, and some parts of the trail were completely underwater. We had dry feet for only the first few hours, after that it was wet feet all day and night.”

He said the biggest reward was, “not just being able to complete the entire distance, but to complete it after coming up short before. The secret is to fall down seven times and get up eight times. I would like people to know that if they set goals and come up short they just need to re-evaluate where things did not go right, then change them to insure success. This applies to everything in life. Just never quit. Don't quit on yourself.”

During their adventure they didn't see too many people the first day.

“At the Delaware Water Gap we announced our plan to a park maintenance man who smiled and wished us luck,” Wright said. “On the second day (Saturday) we did pass a lot of people walking on the popular section of the trail in Vernon the 'Boardwalk and on the Stairway to Heaven.' We thought they smelled nice. We know we didn't.”

One of their favorite sights was at 2:30 a.m. in High Point State Park.

“We climbed up on an observation tower that is right on the trail,” Wright said. “There was a slight breeze, and a beautiful view of the almost full moon. The High Point monument was illuminated and we could see the lights in Vernon where we were heading.”

The men only stopped a few times to take videos that were posted on Facebook.

“The comments were inspirational and a few were funny,” Wright said. “Within a few hours of posting a video of my cousin Tim trimming his toenail with a pocket knife we had 117 views.”

As to diet, Tim Wright believes in the Keto Diet and ate higher fat foods while Jan Wright consumed Cliff Bars and pre-cooked rice meals along with nuts and seeds. They filtered water from streams along the way.

“We felt fantastic when we finished," Jan Wright said. "We often spoke about how grateful we are that we have healthy bodies and have the opportunity to push ourselves way past our comfort zone.”

The Wrights ran as much and as often as possible.

“Nothing fancy,” Jan Wright said, “We both know that any challenge is accomplished from what is in your head not the body. It was about self-discipline and not quitting. Many people wished us luck. My reply is that this run is too important to leave to luck. We trained hard, we knew we were going to suffer, and had a plan. Luck is for games of chance like the lottery where you have zero input in the outcome. We controlled our outcome. We had no doubt that we would complete the run this time."

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