Monday, October 24, 2011

Run Around the Gorge: One Skinny B in Double-U Vee

Photo credit: Matthew Eluk (thanks Matt!)

My wife and I headed over several mountains and deep into the heart of (former) coal country this weekend to celebrate our anniversary by doing the second annual Run Around the Gorge.

I’ll put the punchline first here: Do it next year.

Mark Lattanzi, an accomplished adventure racer and unbelievable host, has set a course in and around the New River Gorge that is an awesome mixture of rail to trail, shag trail, contouring rollers, uphill, downhill, and country roads (total breakdown is 46 k of trails and 16k of country roads).   The weekend is more “running retreat” than race, depending on what your mentality is.  It is 100% the most beautiful course I’ve run to date and is a fantastic bridge weekend for those looking to move to longer distance (ask my wife Heather who had a blast this weekend) and a killer training weekend for those of us who love to go real long. 

The weekend centers around the opossum creek resort, which *you run back to each day* after starting at two different trailheads.  The resort is quiet and the accommodations are beautiful  and nestled privately in the woods (our cabin had its own hot tub, yes, you read that correctly).  

Heading in:
This weekend was the apex of my high mileage week, and it was a test to see if I could maintain a steady, quick pace after the several months of much higher turnover workouts (including the potentially infamous Skinny B workouts).   I also wanted to check in with myself mentally before I toe the starting line at the Lithia Loop trail marathon in two weeks which sees some serious trailblazing (2:40 was Max King’s winning time last year).   In other words,  I had set myself to run fast and see how it would last.

The Weekend:
Friday night kicks off with a pizza party, friendly outgoing runners, beer, wine, and a very laid back race brief (the best kind).   We headed out the trailhead Saturday for a 24 mile run, beginning with some flat rail trail spiced with a dash of technical downhill.  Yes, please, I’ll have seconds.  We then climbed up a country road into old mining territory and along contouring trails with a full sweeping vista of the gorge as we ran through miles of shag.   We then dumped back onto an impossibly switch-backed country road leading up a wall of pavement too steep to be believed.  The last quarter mile was a rip-roaring trail back to the cabins.  I ran out in front after the first couple of miles and very narrowly edged out two awesome (and very fast) adventure racers & ultra runners Kristin Eddy and Scott Pleban.   Day 1, 24 miles, 3:05.  Recovery included a massage from a therapist on site, hot tub, and smores.  Yes, indeed.

Sunday was a little colder at the start, and it was staged so that the last runner from Saturday started first.  It was awesome to see everyone  over the first several miles of the course and kiss my wife on the way down into the gorge and then the steady hard climb up Beauty Mountain.    It was a technical climb at points, but steady, and I was ready to turn it on so I blasted it up the mountain and out onto a connector gravel road.   The second half of Sunday presents a runner with a choice of the “adventure trail” which has bouldering and ladders, or I guess what could be called the “bobsled run” a very fast, spectacular trail along the rim of the gorge and plunging through rhododendron on your way back to the cabins. Day 2, 16 miles, 2:14.

Photo credit: Kristin Eddy (awesome running!)

The Skinny:
This run is a blast, and a HUGE value when you add up all meals, aid, marked course, transport to start, accommodation  (refer to hot tubs above) , beer, wine, sodas, water, fleece, finisher medal, prizes…it is really amazing.   Add that to the camaraderie of a small group of runners, running back to your cabin site, and the fall colors it is an awesome experience.  There is a ton to do in the area with mountain biking & hiking galore, and most everyone was there with their spouse (though we were the only couple that both ran).

Interested?  Mark your calendar now!
Next year's race will be 26-28 October 2012. Saturday will be a full marathon and Sunday will be 12-13 miles.  Check the website for results and info for next year will be posted in several months time…

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Recap of Beautiful Training Weekend: SMUT and 3 Ridges/Priest

Fall mountain splendor. Courtesy Jenny Nichols
Last weekend saw several great training opportunities and for many of us it was the last long-run weekend before the upcoming Mountain Masochist 50 miler.  It was also a spectacularly beautiful fall weekend to be in the mountains.

Below, Christian provides a quick summary and some nice pictures from Saturday's SMUT (Southern Massunutten Ultra Trail) 50K, put on by Keith Knipling, and David does the same for Sunday's CAT training run at 3 Ridges and the Priest.

Christian's report from SMUT

The SMUT (Southern Massanutten Ultra Trail Run) is another low-key fat ass event that Keith Knipling from the VHTRC has put on every year for five years now.  Keith offers a 50k and a 100k option (both fall a little short of distance though). We CAT's (Joey and me) opted for the 50k option and had a blast. As an "entry fee" everybody got assigned aid to bring to stock up the aid stations. Needless to say, there was a wide variety of aid and plenty for everybody.

Since there are no course markers we hung with Gary Knipling and Marlin Yoder (both team VHTRC)  almost the whole way to not get lost. We dropped Gary when he realized we were "just" in for the 50k. In addition we were provided turn sheets and Joey even brought a PATC map. It was just over 50F at 6:30am in the morning as we started up a gravel road for about 1.5 miles, and entered the singletrack trail by sunrise. Fall foliage and the sun coming up behind the mountain range offered gorgeous views as we ran on the first ridge. With 6000ft of elevation gain over 28.8 miles it was a good workout and I cursed the Massanutten rocks a couple of times. The course offered lots of rocks, some jeep roads,  single track, beautiful views and great company. The run was very nice and Joey and I finished in 6hrs 30mins.

A really nice low-key, no-pressure fat ass event with lots of VHTRC love, I would definitely recommend it! Here some impressions from the beautiful fall day.

David's report from 3 Ridges/Priest

Fall colors on AT.  Courtesy Jenny Nichols.
We had a great and fun group turnout for Sunday's run, with folks from all over Virginia.  When Nick Hamblet and I pulled into the Rte. 56 parking lot around 7:15 am, we met up with CAT-regular Bob Clouston, Matt Bugin and two other friends from Richmond, IMTRers Jenny Nichols and Guy from Southwest Virginia, and VHTRCer Quatro Hubbard from Richmond.  And then, CAT-regular Neal Church showed up from Richmond to round things out.

It was a picture perfect day with temps in the 50s as we got started.  Guy and Skinny B Nick started out with Matt Bugin and friends in a fast group, followed by Bob, Jenny, and Neal.  Quatro and I decided to "sweep" in the last grouping.  We first headed up the AT towards The 3 Ridges.  The colors were great; we started down in green leafy late summer, ascended through oranges and reds, and came up to yellow-colored trees and paths of fallen leaves on the top of the ridges.  The views were outstanding, as Bob's and Jenny's pictures, included here, can attest to. The Mau-Har trail was great -- much nicer in autumn than in the humidity of the summer IMO-- and Campbell's Creek flowed strong and clear from recent rains.
Jenny and Neal on the Third Ridge. Courtesy Bob Clouston.

Quatro on Third Ridge with Priest in background.
Nick, Bob, and Neal on Priest outcropping.  Courtesy Jenny Nichols
Quatro and I finished the first leg in just over four hours and found Jenny, Bob, and Neal still hanging out in the parking lot. So we grabbed some quick food and drink and headed up the Priest trail all together.  We were met by another beautiful climb and great scenery at outcroppings as we ascended higher.  It was at the first outcropping about 2/3 of the way up that Bob, Jenny, and Neal met the fast group on their way down.  I caught up as they all snapped off more pictures (Q returned to the parking lot about a mile up the trail as the 24 miles he ran with Sophie Speidel plus several hours of UVA tailgating on Saturday began to catch up with him).   On top of the Priest, we visited the other outcropping with its incredible vistas, before turning for our descent.  As this was my first time up the Priest, I was sort of dreading the descent, figuring my quads were shot.
Tailgate!  From L:  Guy, Jenny, Quatro, and Bob.

 But we got down in what seemed like no time at all with my quads still intact. The big surprise upon our return was the spread that Q had set up at his car.  It was the UVA tailgate all over again, complete with fried chicken, lots of chips, a variety of beers, and bourbon and cokes.  Jenny added some 5-hour energy shots and Lusty Monk mustard and we were in business!

Overall, the day included 22 miles of distance and 7350 feet of climbing.

Monday, October 17, 2011

CAT Shirt Unveiling/Group Order

I am extremely excited to unveil our first official clubshirt! David put in a great deal of work with Patagonia to arrange specialpricing for our group and Christian worked through numerous drafts of our clublogo before finally nailing it! We are now taking orders for shirts, in hopesof getting shirts out to everyone in time for Mountain Masochist. The final logo features cat claw marksforming the outline of our familiar trail running playground-the Blue RidgeMountains.

An image of what the shirt will look like is pictured above. The shirts are Patagonia Capilene 1 long sleeve in a light green with theCharlottesville Area Trail Runners logo screen printed on the front. TheCapilene 1 shirt is an awesome base layer and great for fall/winter running.These shirts are available in women’s/men’s specific sizes.

The price of each shirt (including screen printing) will besomewhere between $30-$32/shirt, which is a great price, considering theseshirts cost $35 from Patagonia.

To order a shirt, please email me (andrewjkrueger at hotmail dot com) with your name, number ofshirts you are ordering, and the size of each shirt (men’s/women’s size noted,please). Ex. John Doe, 1 shirt, men’ssize large. Please email me with your order by the end of the day Thursday,October 20. We will be placing our order first thing Friday morning.

Upon delivery, payment of cash or check will be expected forthe number of shirts ordered. The final price of the shirts will be availableafter we place the order on Friday.

Feel free to contact me with any questions.

See you on the trails (in sweet matching shirts!),


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

David Horton comes to Charlottesville

David Horton at the Tour Divide, 2011

  "Do you have a bucket list?!"

David Horton, legendary ultrarunner, teacher, race director, and newbie mountain biker, asked that question many times throughout his talk to CAT and CAMBC members last night at UVA.

"Everyone NEEDS a bucket list! What's yours?!"

Mixing humor, self-deprecation, Malcolm Gladwell, sobering facts and stats with passion and candid reflection, David shared both his triumphs of 30+ years of ultrarunning along with his feelings of doubt, fear, and sadness upon learning from two doctors that he could no longer run.

"Do you know those people who can't stop talking about something, whether it be music or cars or computers (or running)? They're the ones to look out for, they're the ones who are going to make it." -Bob Lefsetz

Horton is passionate about running. But he is equally passionate about getting other people excited about being active. His talk was not "woe is me, I cannot run"; it was "find your passion and do it now, before you can't do it anymore!"

It was an honor to hear the endurance "genius" of David Horton last night:  former speed record holder of the AT, PCT, Long Trail, Barkley Marathons winner, Hardrock winner (2x), and, a little over eight months after learning to ride a mountain bike, Tour Divide finisher.

"When you see a genius at work, you feel something. Those Apple keynotes, you could see that Jobs himself was thrilled, the excitement was contagious.
 Loving what you do is not enough to succeed. It's just a beginning, it's an ongoing force. It keeps you going when the spotlight's gone, when everybody else tells you to give up.

But it also drives you to innovate, to do it different." -

DH greeting a grateful Promise Land finisher, 2011


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

This Tuesday! Tour Divide Presentation - Dr. David Horton

Tomorrow, Tuesday October 11th, is our second CAT-Talk and it should be very exciting!  The talk features well-known trail runner/ultra runner/long distance expert  and now mountain biker, Dr. David Horton. The talk will be held on Tuesday at 6:00 pm in Room 123 of Rouss & Robertson Halls (McIntire School of Commerce).  The talk is co-sponsored by the Charlottesville Area Mountain Bike Club (CAMBC).

Dr. Horton will talk about his recently completed Tour Divide, a ultra-cycling challenge to pedal solo and self-supported the length of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (2745mi) fast as possible. Hear about his fascinating trek and transitional journey from ultra runner to ultra mountain biker.  As part of Dr. Horton's presentation, we will have a moderated Q&A session, so you bring your questions!
Following the presentation, we plan to meet up for a social gathering/dinner at Mellow Mushroom Pizza on the University of Virginia "Corner".

We are asking for a donation of $5 to cover Horton's travel costs.  All lefttover proceeds will be donated to to a fund devoted to developing and maintaining the new Albemarle County park, the Patricia Ann Byrom Forrest Park.

Prior to the talk everybody is welcome to join Dr. Horton at a mountain bike group ride or trail run at Observatory Hill. Here's the schedule:

4pm  - Group Ride/Run: Meet at Blue Ridge Cyclery and ride at Observatory Hill
6pm -  Tour Divide Talk: Room 123, Rouss Hall,  McIntire School of Commerce, UVa
8pm -  Dinner social at Mellow Mushroom Pizza

Please comment on this post if you intend to come or RSVP to the Facebook event here.

More info about Tour Divide:
More info about CAMBC:
Meeting spot for the ride: Blue Ridge Cyclery

Talk location:

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