An agricultural professor embarks on endurance trail hiking | Leisure, outdoor activities and travel

An assistant professor of agribusiness at the State University of New York at Morrisville has earned bragging rights. Scott Colby, Ph.D., hiked more than 100 miles on trails in the Allegheny National Forest alone (except for his mixed-breed dog, Eppa, who was with him).

One such feat is known as “A-100,” an endurance ride on the North Country Trail through the Allegheny National Forest. The A-100 does not allow any outside help or supporters and takes place within 50 hours, starting at 6 p.m. Friday and ending at 8 p.m. the following Sunday. Each year, the starting point of the A-100 changes so that avid hikers can see different parts of the trail.

There are different distances that hikers attempt to accomplish within the 50 hour time frame, from 25, 50, and 75 miles to 100 miles. Typically, only 20% of hikers who sign up to complete 100 miles on the trail actually achieve their goal.

In 2021, 134 hikers started the challenge and 96 completed it, 31 of whom ran 25 miles; 35 completing 50 miles; two running 75 miles and only 28 running 100 miles.

Eppa always accompanies Colby on his hikes. He named the dog after Baseball Hall of Famer Eppa Rixey Jr., because Colby liked the name, not necessarily the athlete.

“He projects well when you call him in the forest,” he said.

Colby and Eppa take a different lead.

A regular hiker herself, Eppa carried a few items in a backpack for the A-100, but Colby carried her food.

“I feel like I listen to it a lot,” Colby said. “If we disagree on whether a trail goes left or right, she’s right about 80% of the time.”

He attributes this to Eppa’s superior senses of smell and hearing rather than his sense of reasoning.

For this hike, Colby only packed the essentials because “this is not a camping trip,” he said. “Some participants are ultra-long hikers and ultramarathon runners. Some bring almost nothing. I’m a bit of a hybrid. I had a light bag with food. I make my own water. Everything is ultralight.

Colby and Eppa began their hike at the prescribed start time of 6 p.m. on Friday, June 11, 2021 and hiked for 12 hours. The duo rested for four hours, then finished the hike with 30 hours of effort in a row. Typically, event organizers provide a bus for the return trip; however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the hike was “more of an out and back,” Colby said.

At SUNY Morrisville, Colby teaches courses in food marketing research, consumer behavior, agricultural economics, food distribution, environmental economics, and other topics. His research projects sometimes include the development and use of “big data” economic theory.

Colby is currently developing a master’s program in food and agribusiness science at Morrisville. He got his doctorate. in Economics from Washington State University.

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Colby teaches courses at SUNY Morrisville on food marketing research, consumer behaviors, agricultural economics, food distribution, environmental economics, and other topics.

Colby and his students worked developing food brands in a business incubator; branded products are eventually sold in stores. Two years ago, Colby mentored an innovative lighting company, called Candidus, in the Grow-NY competition and the entry won a $250,000 prize. Candidus develops adaptive lighting technology for commercial greenhouse systems. Grow-NY is a food innovation and agricultural technology business competition focused on emerging food, beverage and agricultural innovations in regions across New York State.

Preparing for a 100 mile hike

While taking a walk is a form of exercise that almost anyone can easily enjoy, the A-100 trail event is so long that “it’s not something you can get off the street and do” , said Colby.

His preparation stemmed from years of hiking. Colby clocks over 1,000 miles every year, averaging 2.75 miles a day.

“It’s about consistency,” Colby said. “I do the North Country Trail and the Finger Lakes Trail. My boys and I are hiking all 46 peaks of the Adirondacks. We are at 22.

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Scott Colby poses with his sons and Eppa while hiking in the Adirondacks in New York.

“Hiking has always been very important to me. I think of hiking differently now. I struggle with the word “hike” because it means different things to different people. »

He tends to use the lonely time to get clarity on life decisions and to recharge his batteries, although he admitted the 100-mile trek wasn’t so energizing due to its extreme distance.

“Daily hikes are a form of meditation,” he said. “I consider the trails my chapel.”

Colby started walking — and eventually hiking — to become more active. Instead of taking phone calls at his home office, he walked.

“I always had my best thoughts while walking,” he said.

This led to mile-long loops in deep conversation. He was curious how far the trails would go and back walking further and further.

“It started to become a good thing that I would do every day,” Colby said. “I became stronger and more productive.”

When he heard about the A-100 he wanted to complete it because it condenses such a long hike into a weekend.

According to the North Country Trail website (, the next A-100 challenge will take place June 10-12, 2022, from north to south. Participants pay $80 to participate, if they were chosen in the lottery for entry in early March.

The North Country National Scenic Trail stretches 4,800 miles through eight states: North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, the two peninsulas of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont .

Colby and his family live in Cazenovia, New York. In addition to hiking, he enjoys tennis, participating in the Lions Club and spending time with his wife and sons.