The first Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK 50 Mile Relay and Ultramarathon was run in October 2000. Covering nearly 50 miles of mountain roads, the race course winds from the Tussey Mountain Ski Area past Whipple Dam State Park, Alan Seeger Natural Area, Penn Roosevelt State Park, Colyer Lake and Bear Meadows Natural Area, returning to the ski area to mark the 50th mile.
The Mountainback was founded by area runners Steve Bodner and Mike Casper, both of State College. Having participated in marathons and another distance relay event in New England, both had been looking for a way to develop an event using some of the many scenic roads that wind through Rothrock State Forest. The result was a combination of picturesque roads, hills and vistas forming both a relay event that's accessible to the average runner and challenging to the veteran runner, and a memorable ultramarathon that has now been the site of the USA Track & Field 50 Mile National Championships.
In its inaugural year, 91 runners (fifteen relay teams and one ultrarunner) covered the course during a beautiful fall day. Year two saw 36 teams and 4 ultrarunners take it on. In year three, 53 teams and 7 ultramarathoners took up the challenge. In 2003, 47 teams and 20 ultramarathoners tested their mettle on the Mountainback. In 2005, 53 relay teams and 43 ultramarathoners took up the challenge. Today the race attracts teams and ultramarathoners from throughout the country and abroad for a great mountain run during "fall colors" season.