For those worried about packing on too many holiday pounds, the VHTRC has created an ideal solution: three holiday classic races. Right in the middle of the Xmas party season, Joe Clapper continues to host the club’s longest running event, the Magnus Gluteus Maximus 50k on the Bull Run trails around Hemlock Overlook and Fountainhead Regional Parks. And on January 1, Gary Knipling carries on the Team Slug tradition of starting the New Year off with the perfect hangover remedy: mulitple sweet trail loops in Prince William Forest Park in the Redeye 50k.
Tucked in between, on the Saturday between Christmas and New Year’s, is the Boyers Furnace 40 Miler. This race is a wonderful blend of dirt country roads and single track trail in and around the southern half of the Fort Valley in the Massanutten Mountains.
The start is at the end of co-RD Carter Wiecking’s driveway just off the Fort Valley Road below Woodstock Tower, and the finish becomes official once you have finished your loop and made your way down her driveway and in to her kitchen. The highlights are many along the way. Sunrise streaming through the gaps in the mountains on the eastern side of the valley as the runners climb to Woodstock on the western ridge. The run across the long Powells Mountain section of the trail. Getting to stretch your legs for 8-9 miles of dirt road from Edinburg Gap through Moreland Gap down to Camp Roosevelt. Dave Snipes Eggnog Aid Station at Camp Roosevelt, which gets us all fired up for the climb up to Kennedy Peak.
A particularly special stretch is the bulk of the miles in the second half of the race - running along the eastern ridge of the Massanuttens, with mile after mile of incredible views from this narrow ridge trail into the Fort Valley to the left and the Page Valley on the right. Another high point for many of us is hitting the hiked-in aid station at Milford Gap, manned by co-RD Tony Escobar and his better half, Natalie Kennedy (unrelated to Kennedy Peak), as well as Dan Aghdam and a host of their kids. Ask for the chicken caesar salad here - it is the best trail food ever.
Once you bomb down Veech Gap into the valley, it is then a few miles of rolling country roads that eventually leads you to the finish. A great way to work off those holiday pounds and to get the winter training started in a positive fashion. This event seems to be kissed by the weather gods as well - sunny and downright warm the past two years.
Congrats to everyone who got off their respective couches and came out to play this year - be it for the full Boyers 40 or the truncated Boy 20 (about a third of the field drops at the Sniper Cafe at mile 20). Particular accolades go to the fast folks - Dave Frazier and Matt Bugin killed it this year, finishing in 7:15. The first woman to finish was Robin Watkins - she was paced by her husband Adam to a nice 8:26 finish.
The 2015 race date has been set for Boxing Day - the day after Xmas, December 26. See you in the Fort Valley then!
Tony Escobar’s and Katie Keier’s photos.