Boyers Furnace Fat Ass Forty was originally started by Greg Loomis in 2006 as a challenging winter-time loop run. Tony Escobar kept the run going when Greg was unable to RD any longer, and when Tony was deployed, he asked me to keep it alive while he was overseas.
Being the lazy bon-bon-eating bastard of an RD that I am, I immediately re-arranged the course so it started and ended at my house. Because, hey, what’s not to like about rolling out of bed, grabbing a clipboard and strolling to the starting line?
The change seemed to work pretty well last year, so this year, we went a step farther in the “lazy bastard” department and instituted the rule that the finish line is actually inside my kitchen…because who wants to wait out on the driveway in the cold when everyone else is inside getting warm and drinking eggnog, neh?
Eventually, my goal is to sit inside all day tasting new eggnog recipes while everyone else is out flogging themselves all day long over the course’s mix of rocks interspersed with road running.
As for the flogging part, did I mention that this is a challenging course? It is, and Greg Loomis must accept both the blame and accolades for that, since this was his brainchild. But for the 2013 running, the trail-and-road combination was made much easier by utterly fabulous weather and excellent overall trail conditions.
Runners started this year at 7:03.27 (coff, yes, 3 minutes, 27 seconds late Quattro, coff) in fine, frosty, 21 F. temperatures with very little wind. A total of 50 runners started the course this year, shivering in the early cold, but dressed for the projected high of 57 F. later in the day.
By the time the first runners reached the Woodstock Tower, the sun was up and the temperature was already noticeably warmer. Front runners Brian Schmidt, William Weidman, Matt Banning, Matt Christovich and Brian Quintana zipped through the aid station before the aid station was even set up, and zoomed over the orange trail south to Edinburg.
By Edinburg Gap, jackets were coming off and runners were sweating. After fueling up at the aid station manned by Laura Daly-Barrett and the amazing Gildeas, runners took advantage of the long net downhill from Edinburg combined with the moderate weather to blast out more speed before hitting the slower and more technical eastern ridge…except for Brian Schmidt and Michael Schuster, who opted for the longer Short Mountain Trail instead of the road.
By the time most runners reached Camp Roosevelt, where David Snipes was the impresario of the trail-side kitchen once again, serving banana-peanut butter canapés, hot soup and other goodies with caring, flair and a generous portion of heckling, the temperature was approaching 60 F.
Newcomers to the run, such as Francie Hankins, Bernard Pesjak and Angel Krueger, were smiling coming into Snipes’ “gourmand-n-go” station. The warmth and sunshine were a treat for all.
The long 12-mile trek north on the eastern ridge of Fort Valley to Milford Gap was a bit tricky in places due to deep leaves still on the trail, but Tony Escobar, Dan Aghdam, Natalie Kennedy, Danny Aghdam, Rowan Kennedy and Aidan Kennedy did their best to ameliorate any “bummage” due to rocks and leaves by providing a hot fire, good tunes, and as much aid as they could haul by hand up 0.7 miles of trail from the road head.
The final stage of the trail was a challenge, as always. The descent down Veach Gap, where the Orange Trail meets the blue-blazed Tuscarora Trail, has a mish-mash of sometimes blue, sometimes orange blazes that are confusing to first-timers. Once runners turned off the blue-orange trail onto yellow and headed toward the Veach Gap trail head, things got trickier this year due to high water levels. The trail appeared to end abruptly in a creek, and it took some fortitude in the increasing darkness for participants to descend and ford the creek far enough to find the markings on the far side.
Fortunately, everyone made it to the finish. Aaron Hastings and Jana Snider get “course creativity” awards this year for inadvertently making a loop of Kennedy Peak and then wandering far enough afield to meet a local who gave them a ride back to the finish line. And Ed “Mad Elf” Cacciapaglia also created his own course, as usual, and took a shortcut from Milford Gap down to the finish by way of Seven Fountains Road, to cover 37 miles instead of the full 41. It was a good shortcut and we applaud his local knowledge!
An astonishing 70% of the starters (35 out of 50) finished the entire course this year, and only 10% of the field (5 out of 50) admitted to going off course, either intentionally or not. So overall it was an excellent day, and at the end of the day, everyone finished safely and got home safe and sound. For the win, people!