This was to be the “no drama” Ring, but alas..it was not. Not much drama, just a little. But read on for that..
Us RevRingers were pretty anxious about the weather. On Thursday, it was predicted to be raining most of Saturday. It seemed like we would start out the RevRing in cold icy rain.
But that was not true! It was around 34 degrees as we left the Signal Knob parking lot. The first challenge of the morning was the icy rocks. It was a very slow walk up to the top of Signal Knob due to the unpredictable ice on rocks.
This is actually a good option, since the slowness (for everyone except Keith Knipling) gets the body all warmed up and loose.
I was surprised on the road run down OFF Signal Knob; the road has been graded since the last time I was on it. This means the big crevasses from water runoff and random rocks have been smoothed over. I ran much more of this road section than I have before, catching up to Hiro and Yoki at Powell’s Fort.
Uneventful climb back up to the ridge at Powell’s Fort, then focused on running the very runnable section from Powell’s Fort to Woodstock.
I had splits in mind for RevRing. I thought I could run it under/around 25 hours. I used Gombu’s 24.30 splits from 2011 as a target:
Moreland 230 pm
Crisman 421 pm
Camp Roosevelt 805 pm
I got into Woodstock at 930, very pleased with myself. I wasn’t killing myself running, but I was making sure I was running-running-running. It’s real easy to just “hike” on the MMT.
I took a hard fall between Powell’s and Woodstock. When I did, my right shoe ripped entirely open. I had thought about putting my spare shoes in my drop bag, but as I never change shoes, I didn’t see the point.
I see the point now! My left shoe had a small rip, and when I fell, the right one completely ripped across the top. So I had to go another 50 miles with my shoes ripped apart. Sometimes I would catch my foot on a rock, and then my toes would bust through, and I would have to stop and shove my foot back inside the shoe. I’ll pack spare shoes from now on!
Quatro and Bur, Race Directors, had already warned us that the Woodstock Road was closed and no drop bags would be available there, but some aid would be hiked in. I was carrying plenty of calories so this did not impact me. Big thanks to the volunteers who had to hike in-uphill-water, gatorade, and food for us runners.
Gombu and Mark on the start of the climb to Waonaze Peak
The rhododendrons right before the Peak
It was warming up out there, turning into a really fine day to be on the trails. I got to Edinburg at 1149 (Gombu’s split 1142) really happy.
Then it was off to Short Mountain! Short Mountain is “not that bad” these days. During the MMT 100 race, you are on this section in the first 20 miles of the race. The weather was great this year, after last year’s winds.
Mark on Short
I was feeling great! I was eating, hiking well, running when I could. I got into Moreland at 215 (Gombu’s split 215) just super stoked. I passed 8 runners from Short Mountain to Crisman Hollow that had been ahead of me all day..
Stephanie had hiked in her aid for the Crisman Hollow Aid Station, and I got refills on water and some food and was off. I was still stoked-my split was 430 pm vs Gombu’s 421 pm time.
In fact, I had never been this far down the trail, in so much daylight before! I took a good hard fall (my third of the day) on my way to Waterfall Mountain. My quads hurt badly going down Waterfall-but it was still daylight!!!
I then start up the switchback, up Big Run. Big Run has been my nemesis in my prior two MMT races. But I have just climbed this in January, on a MMT training run. Now I am on it again. I am getting more familiar with it, and it’s “not as bad” as remembered.
I am really not as weary as I look here!
I am running..quite well. It’s STILL not dark! And I am well on my way to Camp Roo! Yeehaw!!!
I come to a four way intersection. Yep, I remember this quite well. The left will take me Crisman Hollow Road (west) but nope, not that way today.
I look for the orange blaze. Yes, there it is, let’s go! I continue down the runnable trail, just having a great time-it’s still not dark!
I run until I see a trail with blue blazes in front of me. I look around for the orange blazes. I don’t see any. I’m puzzled. I go down the blue trail a bit. No orange. Huh. I go back to my intersection, and now go UP the trail..all blue blazes. Nothing. I go back to my intersection. Hiro and Yoki should be coming up behind me real soon, they’ve only been 4 or 5 minutes behind me.
Now darkness falls. I don’t see lights, or hear anyone.
I pull out the map that I did bring. Even though I have run this course numerous times, I decided to bring the map today.
I can’t figure out where this is. Then I finally decide to stop trying to make the map fit my reality, and I look for a blue trail.
Huh. There is a blue trail…Gap Creek Trail, going left and right…but it intersects with a….
YELLOW BLAZE???? Oh nooooooooooooooooooo…….
I go over and look carefully at a blaze. Dammnit!!! It is YELLOW not orange! I’ve ran down the Scothorn Yellow Trail, all the way to the Gap Creek Trail!!
I look at the map. I could go west, on blue Gap Trail, and pick up the MMT orange again. But then I will get DQ’d for going off course.
So back south I go, down to the orange trail. As I approach the intersection, I remember from my first time on RevRing trail, Bill Wandel was a little behind me, but he hollered for me to “turn right” at the intersection.
Now it’s the little climb, back before the long descent to Camp Roosevelt. I’ve gone through an entire gamut of emotions-anger, dismay, a little humor. But I shake it off. It is what it is. I have no idea how much time or mileage I’ve now added having not looked at my watch. I don’t know whether there are any Ringers to catch up with. I know there is some sort of a “cut off” at Camp Roo, but I don’t know what it is, having never really worried about a time cut off.
I do catch up to one runner, Gary, so it’s good to share some trail with, and tell the silliness that I did.
I get into Camp Roo-I think about 9 pm (Gombu’s split was 8 pm.)
I have no intention of dropping, so I grab my drop bag and walk over to the shadows to change my wet bra and top. The key to the 25 miles on the Eastern Ridge is to get dry, warm clothes for the trek. It’s night, you are tired, and this will be a lot of walking.
Paul is still there, and he waits the extra time for me to get some calories in, and we set off for our trek. It’s slow moving, and I get pretty tired quickly, as my pace is now slowing over what I have been doing previously.
The eastern ridge of the Massanuttens can be tricky. Some sections you are just picking your way over the spine of the ridgeline. There isn’t much up and down, you are just up on top of the ridge. For a little while, there are the beautiful twinkle of lights from the towns down below.
We finally pass the Indian Grave Intersection! Okay, onto Milford Gap Trail Intersection.
Paul and I arrive. We see the jeep road where aid is hiked in for The Ring. But where is Orange? All we see is this HUGE white blazed trail, it’s as wide as a highway. Paul and I go down this, carefully looking for orange. I stop to consult the map and Paul re climbs the trail. White is not correct, and by the time I re climb, Paul has located the orange blazed trail.
A few more miles down the trail, I see a light coming toward us. It’s Bob A. He says he has found blue blazes, but no orange. I tell him it’s okay, blue and orange now run together.
But we go a little ways down the trail with NO orange blazes at all, and I stop and whip the map out. Without any orange, I believe we are heading east down the blue Tuscarora Trail. So back we go, to the last orange blaze seen. I go back another blaze or two, stop to pee, and then I notice a trail off to my left, so I go down it. It is completely unblazed, with no colors, so I give up and return back to last known orange blaze.
Now the guys are gone! And I see the orange blaze trail. I swear it wasn’t there before.
I have forgotten to mention we’ve been in heavy fog for miles. I have a headlamp on, but I do have a Fenix hand held in my pocket. (Paul was just using his Fenix hand held.)
Having the hand held light was very valuable through this fog, looking for blazes on the trees.
Okay, now I am back on orange, alone, hoping the guys are in front of me. I should be headed toward Veach Gap. If I have just passed the Tuscarora Trail, it shouldn’t be that far to Veach, right?
OMG. It seemed to go on forever. I find flat land, runnable. I run. Or kinda jog. It’s not walking, it is that running motion. I see a light! I catch up to Paul..but where is Bob?
Paul says Bob went back to look for me…oh well, now I don’t know where Bob is.
All I want to do is get to Veach. Once I get to Veach, I know where to go, how far we have left.
But man, the trail goes on forever. I don’t remember it taking so long. I’m power hiking, checking to make sure Paul is still behind me. I finally hear water, and see the creek! I cross the creek, and sure enough, some blessed souls have hiked in aid AND a tent.
I sign in on the sheet, and am happy to see Bob has arrived (somehow) in front of me, at 430 (I arrived at 446 am.)
I drink water and Gatorade. I’ve been out of water for quite some time. I eat some chips and wait for Paul. It’s 5 am, and it’s cold. The time of day where the body temperature drops and we are low on the course. I’m starting to get a chill waiting. Finally, Paul arrives, we get water in his pack, and I tell him we’ve got a climb that will warm us up.
Ah, The problem with running RevRing previously is I know exactly how far we have to go. And it is long, and endless. We finally get to dawn, and the Elizabeth Furnace area, with its many intersecting trails. Paul asks what trail we need to take, and I tell him, just follow orange and blue,orange and blue, all the way down.
But of course we must first wander around the top for awhile. I just want to be done. I consider flinging myself off the ridge just to be done. But that probably wouldn’t kill me, so I plod on. Oh, the orange blaze goes over this little knob? Of course it does! When do we start down?
I hope most of this negative talk is going on inside my head. Paul has not complained at all, nothing negative from him, and I appreciate it. I’m sure he hurts as bad as I do and wants to be done also. Now we hit the never ending switchbacks on our way to the Furnace.
I ask Paul which is harder (the universal question) RevRing or the MMT 100. He picks RevRing. Me too. Everything hurts on my body. I so want to sit down. I have not sat down in over 24 hours.
Okay, Elizabeth Furnace is down, we cross the road and now have the last stretch back to Signal Knob parking lot. Bob’s wife is there, she wants to know where Bob is. Oh crap. I was assuming he was right in front of us. I tell her he signed the Veach Gap dance card at 430 am, right in front of me. I am now wondering if Bob took some scenic side trails (it turned out Bob took a bunch of scenic side trails..)
Paul and I carefully run into the correct side of the Signal Knob Parking Lot. Caroline Williams is there, in charge of the clipboard, along with RevRing finishers Cam Baker and Larry Huffman. I fall into the chair that Cam presents to me. I am done.
I was kind of surprised at how whipped I was after this one. BUT I did put more effort into it. I was running with a purpose, and running quite well. I can’t really predict my MMT pace from this, which was what I kind of wanted to do, but hopefully I can use the data. I really had a stellar run through Crisman Hollow, even into Camp Roosevelt.
Many thanks to Bur and Quatro, our organizers, and the volunteers who gave up their day and night to let us runners play in the beautiful mountains. I really appreciate it!