This past Saturday some CATs (Bob, Drew, Sophie and me) ran another free event put up by Dennis Herr from VHTRC. As always, VHTRC events are guaranteed fun and you can experience the dedication those folks put into their events.
|Joe Schramka running through the clouds|
Drew and I carpooled to "in-the-middle-of-nowhere"-Stokesville, VA (the Harrsionburg side of the Massanutten. The complete course is about 35 mi long and provides a decent elevation gain of 8400 ft. Thanks to the Waypoints Drew put in his GPS, we made it to the parking lot at 6.20am, and got one of the last empty spaces. After gearing up and packing map (and yes, Thanks Snipes for giving us an extra map) & turnsheet in the hydration pack we (25-30 runners) came together for a group picture. Many of them took the shorter, 26/28mi option of the course. In a short pre-race briefing, Dennis pointed out that we shouldn't cross the "flower" line, I thought this was a little odd, but given that we trail runners usually are nature conscious it made sense, kind of. (It took me about 20some miles to realize that a flower-line was a flour-line as in course marking. Go figure.). In perfect weather (in the 60/70s) we took off.
The plan was to run with Drew and go for the full distance. Coming back from a beach vacation (and 34ft elev gain runs) two days prior, I figured I need to get in some extra climb. We ran with Sophie, Bob and a few others for the first miles. Sophie gave us some tips along the course of easy to miss turns that served us well in the end (and yes, also arrows put down by David Snipes!). I separated from the group and ran in front with Joe Schramka, one of the WUS'ses (Woodley Ultra Society). I enjoyed getting to know him and talk about running. Drew caught up with us a few miles later and we refueled at the first aid station at Reddish Knob:
|1st Aid Station at Reddish Knob (13mi)|
We kept checking the turn sheet as we continued on the course as some turns were not obvious. The vegetation of parts of the course seemed like in California, pine trees and lots of grass - a nice change compared to the AT & Blue Ridge. Quite a few times we had to bushwhack as the bushes were covering the trail. We ran at a good pace and didn't think anybody would catch up soon, shortly after - out-of-nowhere, Eva Pastalkova, flew by with a quick "Hi, guys!". Even though she started 34mins late, she passed everybody! Crazy!
After the second aid station (21mi) we hit a short but nice cooling rain shower. Sweet! Some more uneventful ups and downs until we stopped at the last aid station, Grooms Ridge (27mi).
|If I had known that the final "brutal climb" meant brutal climb I might have not smiled here.|
The final stretch (that many skipped for a reason) was about 4mi up and 4mi down. At this point my legs were quite tired from going out fast on the downhills earlier and I noticed that I didn't keep up with my nutrition too well - I felt a little empty. Also the weather turned to the sunny side and let the temps rise to 85-90F?! Yay! I think it took us about 2hrs for the 4mi up and 1 hour down. I let Drew take off and ran/walked the rest.
The finish party was great (as VHTRC-usual), lots of food and drinks and good company. We were surprised to hear that Eva didn't make it to the finish yet... as it turned out she had run 10-bonus-miles. Drew (7:50hrs) and I (8:01hrs) made the first two places (out of 6 that did the whole course). Good times!
|Rewarding views on the final miles..|
|Party at the finish.|
Thanks to Dennis Herr and all the wonderful volunteers who made this event possible. It was a great day, beautiful course, and a fantastic race.Link to the event: http://www.vhtrc.org/events/mmb.htm
Photos by Christian:
Photos by Quattro:
Photos by Doug Sullivan: