Running 31 miles straight could be almost pleasant along the scenic woodland trails of Mohican State Park.

Running 31 miles straight could be almost pleasant along the scenic woodland trails of Mohican State Park.

At least, that's what local runner, husband and father Drew Pavao hopes is true when he faces an Ultramarathon next month, the longest race of his 37 years.

Pavao will be one of 150 participants trail running in the Mohican 50K on April 19.

"Actually, I don't think of myself as a runner at all," Pavao said, laughing. In fact, when it comes to activities, it's at the bottom of a list of favorites that include adventure sports like paddling and mountain biking. Just because he doesn't love it, though, doesn't mean he doesn't know plenty about it.

"I got started running in the military," Pavao said. A graduate of Sheridan High School in Thornville, he has had a career in the military and in the fire service. He still serves in the Army Reserves and works as a firefighter/EMT in Marysville, both of which force him to keep physically fit.

Still, Pavao agrees there's a broad line that separates maintaining fitness and running 50 kilometers in one shot.

"Basically, if someone comes to me and says there's any kind of physical fitness event coming up, I see it as a challenge. It's just a fun way to keep fit, is all. Especially if it's not really expensive, then I'm all over it."

Two firehouse friends, Luca Belengio and assistant chief Jay Riley, invited Pavao to do the trail running 50K with them. He said he's learned a lot about a form of running that seems to be gaining popularity.

"I was drawn to it because the scenery is so much better than running out on the road, and there's not so much pounding on your feet, legs and hips," he said.

Pavao trains on the paths at Lobdell Reserve in Alexandria, sometimes at Alum Creek State Park, but mostly on an eight-acre loop around his family's home on Parsons Road.

Long-time trail runners have offered Pavao advice for his big day at Mohican State Park. They recommend walking up the hills and then running full-speed down, for example. He will carry a Camel Pak of water, a tube of honey and some food bars in the pockets. A food station will be available for the Ultramarathon runners every six miles on the trail.

Pavao said his military training offered him another advantage when it comes to running, as well.

"New recruits do cadences when they run not only because it keeps them in step but because it helps them breathe properly," he said. "We don't naturally exhale enough when we're running, so doing cadences or talking to someone while you run forces you to do that."

Pavao and his wife, Stacy, have three children: Gavin and Gabrielle, who attend Northridge Primary School, and Gracyn, a preschooler. He hopes they will inherit a healthy lifestyle from his example. The family will be there at Mohican, he said, to watch him finish the race April 19.

The next challenge on the horizon for Pavao is participating in Central Ohio Adventure Racing, which involves mountain biking, paddling and orienteering.

"I think this kind of thing teaches you the value of starting something and finishing it," Pavao said. "It helps to run with someone, too. There's pressure when you're training with other people because you don't want to let them down. It's a good kind of pressure."