Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Harry Landers Memorial Trail Run

The gang before the run
Report from David and Christian
(see links to other reports from the day below. All pictures are by Sophie Speidel).

Last Saturday was Sophie's "Harry Landers Special/Wildcat-Rip Rap run 2011." This 21+ mile loop begins and ends at Sugar Hollow Reservoir and takes you over and down the west side of the Shenandoahs along a beautiful path to a "super secret swimming hole" before returning. With 20+ signups on her FB page for the event, and talk of a post-run picnic that included Knob Creek, Sophie's plan promised an exciting day. And it did not disappoint.

Christian and I rolled in to the Sugar Hollow parking lot at 6:45 am. The parking lot was already teeming with runners awaiting the exciting day. The crowd included folks from different corners of Virginia and beyond, including Jenny Nichols from down in Bristol, lots of VHTRCers and WUS runners from DC, Marc Griffin from Waynesboro, and Neal, Quattro and Gary from the Richmond area. Sabrina Moran was there too, hailing from as far away as New Jersey(?)! From Charlottesville, we had both CAT and Boston Bound runners, including the run's namesake, Harry Landers.
Sophie & Jenny at Chimney Rock
The weather was overcast and mild as we started off. The runners quickly broke into groups by speed and Christian was nice enough to hang back "in the middle" with me. The climb up the North Fork Moormans River trail included knee-deep creek crossings and lots of beautiful glimpses of the Moormans River. At Blackrock Gap, VHTRCer Marlin Yoder join the group after coming up the west side of the mountain from Harrisonburg. The only downer for me for the day was I didn't appreciate that we still had a 2.5 mile uphill jaunt on the AT south before getting to the RipRap trail. From running this section of the AT before, I had this vision that the Rip-rap trail was right across the road from the Blackrock Gap clearing. Wrong!

Once to RipRap, it was smooth and beautiful running, first along the ridge looking out over the valley, from Chimney Rock and other great vantage points, and then down the "hollow" trail, past the 20 ft Waterfall, and finally to the swimming hole. On the way, we began to pass larger and larger stands of mountain laurel in full bloom. The flowering laurel were remarkably beautiful, creating this sensation of being in a popcorn forest, but with a much more pleasant smell than popcorn (five years at popcorn-crazed Indiana University made me hate the smell of popcorn).

Like a trail from a fairy tale, Mountain Laurel in full bloom
Meanwhile, Sophie -- splendid event hostess that she was -- had busied herself running back and forth to the different speed groups to make sure everybody was OK. By the time Christian and I arrived at the swimming hole, Sophie had set up shop as the pool photographer, snapping pictures of each of us as we dunked our heads in the crystal clear, but chilly, water.

"Super secret swimming hole" cool-off
The day's excitement came as Christian and I continued down the Riprap trail from the swimming hole. Coming towards us via a heavy rustling in the bushes was . . . Gary Knipling, all sweaty, scratched, and smiling. Confused, since we thought Gary was behind us, we learned that, "It's a long story, but I got separated from the group, and I am OK, so please relay that message." After chatting with us a little longer, Gary headed back towards the swimming hole in search of the rest of his party, but not before saying, "Watch out for the flourescent orange salamanders. I saw a couple and they are beautiful creatures, so please be sure not to step on them!".

Shortly after meeting Gary, we arrived at the Wildcat trail for the 2.5 mile run/power walk back up to the AT, where Sophie and husband Rusty had the night before stashed water. From there, it was all familiar territory, with the fun downhill segments on Turk Branch Trail and the South Fork Moormans River Trail .

We arrived back at the parking lot to find Neal, Gary from Richmond, and Jenny Nichols hanging out; the faster crew and others had already left, while the large group of VHTRCers behind us had stopped to swim at Blue Hole. We shared fried chicken and good stories (but no Knob Creek, unfortunately) with Jenny, Gary, and Neal before heading out.

All in all, this was a wonderful, wonderful trail day. Big thanks to Sophie for doing such a great job!

-- David

Christian adds:

I think David's report covered the day pretty well, so just a few remarks. This was my return-to-the-mountains debut after a stress fracture in February and it couldn't have been better. Being "off" running makes you appreciate the trails and mountains a lot more and thankful for being able to do this. It was awesome to run with so many different peeps from all over VA and a few other states.

Other Harry-Landers-run links:

Garmin output from Christian and David's run:
Harry Landers Memorial Run by cdahlhausen at Garmin Connect - Details

Sophie Speidel's report:

Sabrina Moran's report:

Jennifer Nichols' report:


Friday, May 13, 2011

The Science of Ultraendurance

Thanks to fellow CAT Mike Stadnisky we are able to present a talk about the science behind ultra endurance. I hope many of you are able to come, it should be interesting.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monalto Saturday, Three Ridges Sunday: good climbs, good times

I posted a report of our adventure at Three Ridges, as well as the Montalto Challenge 5K, on my blog here.

We had a great time and hope to get back to Three Ridges in June or July---it is a 14 mile loop, perfect distance for someone looking to increase their mountain trail miles gradually and get some good climbing in. Plus the swimming holes are awesome! Afterward we can go to Devils Backbone or Blue Mountain Brewery for brunch.

Thanks for joining us, Drew and Nick! Hope you had fun running with the big dogs!

Western Albemarle Gravel Roads Run

While Sophie and other were climbing up Montalto on Saturday, Kendall and I took a nice tour some gravel roads in western Albemarle County. Smaller loops on these roads would make for a nice weeknight training run. Kendall and I would love to get a group run together out here in the fall with lunch at the Batesville Store following the run.

We started out at the Victory Hill Church of God off of US 250 at the Crozet exit of I-64. Heading east, the road  quickly turns to gravel as we encounter the first hill of the day. I knew we were in for rolling hills all day long, but as soon as we got to the first one, we knew we were in for a hard day of running. The first 2/3 of the run are nicely shaded by trees lining the road. Occasionally the view would open up as we passed by a field to spectacular views of the Blue Ridge. At any given time we could see from south of Humpback Mountain to well north of Calf Mountain and Jarman Gap.

Turning onto (the popular with runners) Dick Woods Road, we quickly picked up a pair of four legged running companions. Hoping they'd turn around after a few house, we kept running with our new canine friends in tow. Well, a couple of houses soon turned into several miles miles. Our golden retriever friend latched onto a couple walking in the other direction (that had managed to pick up a traveling canine friend of their own), but the Boxer wouldn't let us out of her sight. As we ran up and down White Mountain Road, the conversation turned to who was going to have a new playmate for their dog at home. Let me tell you, this was one fit Boxer. She kept up with us for 12.5 miles only stopping for water twice. Now before you accuse us of dog napping, we flagged down several cars and stopped at an Episcopal church to ask for help in getting "Buddy" back to her home. Our plan became to make it with her into Batesville where hopefully some one at the Store would be at least king enough to watch her until we got back to the car and could drive her home. She turned out to be a good running companion only causing trouble on the paved sections of Batesville and Craigs Store roads where we'd have to shoo her out of the way of on coming cars (the leash we fashioned for her out of twine didn't last very long).

As we rounded the corner and walked across the one lane bridge into Batesville and made our way towards the Police car managing traffic for the Batesville Day Parade, a guy with a Golden Retriever calls out, "there's my dog." So that concludes Buddy's story, but our run was still 8 miles from being done. We stopped in the Batesville Store, to refuel (lemonade and ginger snaps for me) but didn't stick around for the parade or "Legendary Folk Singer Rusty Speidel." The next part of the run was more exposed to the sun as it  took us behind the Miller School on a nice long leg-stretching downhill on Pounding Creek Road. With every downhill comes and uphill and we had several more rolling hills before topping out on Midway Road. One last drop down to a stream, almost getting bitten by a not-so-friendly dog, and back up again, the gravel turned back to pavement and we were back at the car.

A good day in country side. A short drive from Charlottesville and miles and miles of low/no traffic rolling unpaved country roads.

The details:
24 miles / 2400' of climbing / 19.5 miles of gravel road

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sunday Training Run This Week (May 8th)

In addition to Sophie's mountain run -- meant only for runners with extensive mountain mileage and races under their belts -- Christian and David will be back at the Park for a more "traditional" RT run that starts at 8 am.

The run will be a relatively short run of 4 to 6 miles, with opportunities for varying speed groups. This is a perfect run for those CAT members who have been dormant these last months because of injury, time pressures, or other conflicts.

So longtime friends that have felt left out because of the long mileage runs: Please come rejoin us this Sunday!

We also plan to invite some new runners to this run and maybe meet up at Greenberry's for coffee and food immediately after the run.

Hope to see you at the Park parking lot at 8 am!