The 10th running of the Boyer’s Furnace 40 miler was held on Boxing Day (December 26, 2016). This race, a run on the Massanutten Trail around the southern half of the Fort Valley in northwest Virginia, has traditionally been held on a weekend day between Christmas and New Year’s. In 2016, the calendar made this scheduling tricky, so Race Director Tony Escobar opted for a weekday race date. A nice turnout of runners who were on holiday turned out, and they were treated to a fine early winter’s day to run this classic route.
After a short pre-race (and pre-dawn) briefing, Tony turned the runners lose on the trail at the first light (7:05 AM) for the climb up the orange-blazed trail to Edith Gap. An early morning fog lifted by mid-morning, allowing the runners to take in these views. The day remained overcast, but dry, with temps in the 40s and only some intermittent winds.
The lead pack of runners stayed together virtually the entire day. Trevor Baine, Christopher Moore and Eric Harris officially tied for first, with Will Weidman checking into the Camp Roosevelt horse lot finish a minute later. Windy Aziz was the first woman to finish the 2016 race. In fact, Windy was the only woman to finish this year, as the other five starters dropped out at aid stations along the way. 13 of the starters finished the 40 miler, and another 7 finished the unofficial “Boyer’s 50k” by dropping at the final aid station at Edinburg Gap, about 31 miles into the run. Kudos to Christopher Moore for finishing in that tie for first despite winning Best Blood with a fall that broke his glasses.
Two runners of note were knocked out of the race early. Grace Fisher had to call it a day after spraining her ankle while negotiating the leaf-covered rocks on the Massanutten Trail’s eastern ridge. And Bernard Pesjak had a very unfortunate incident occur within the first two miles of his run. While making his away up the double track section of trail that rises from Edith Gap towards Kennedy Peak (a very popular route among local hikers), Bernard stepped on three nails that had been hammered, points-up, into a root. This intentional act of sabotage caused a serious enough injury to Bernard’s foot that he was forced out at the Veach Gap aid station at the end of the initial trail section.
The 11th edition of the Boyer’s Furnace 40 Miler will be held on Saturday December 30, 2017. Check back in the fall for more details on a specific signup date.