View to the east and the Shenandoah Mountains, taken in the early miles of the 2014 run.
December 26, 2022 • Luray, VA
24 starters, 18 finishers
Boyer’s Furnace 40 Miler, 2022 - The Bomb Cyclone Year
It was a truly EPIC day, and everyone survived.
The bomb cyclone brought frigid temps (around 14F at the start) and threatening-enough conditions that a cancellation was on tap. This year’s run only happened because local Andy Peterson assured us that “roads are clear.” We’re still trying to decide if his rosy assessment was payback for the RD saying the 2020 Boyer’s Lite course was “all good” (it was not), or if locals have a different definition of “all clear” than city folks. In any case, we forgive him. He came out to mark the troublesome 5 miles of Veach Gap trail with Levi Mason, cut down wood for fires, and put down a log crossing to help runners cross one of the icy streams. The only thing missing was one of Andy’s home-grown Fort Valley watermelons; but December watermelons aren’t the best, so just as well …
The event’s start was hardly encouraging. The run took off late, at 7:36AM. One car couldn’t make it up the icy ramp to the Camp Roosevelt Sheet-O’-Ice parking lot, forcing 10 cars behind to slowly back down the entrance drive to the horse lot, and further down the Camp Roosevelt Road. Once the 24 brave runners finally made it to the starting line, they learned that the road sections of the course had turned into ice rinks and would not be marked. Four runners dropped in the first few miles. Everyone who brought spikes used them. Those who did not quickly learned to ice skate.
The course was treacherous, particularly the section leading up to the ridge after Woodstock (mile 23) and the last 3 miles down a normally benign country road to the finish. 5 runners reported falls, 0 needed hospital visits (phew). In that last stretch, concrete dips in the Moreland Gap Road turned into icy streams, and cars that previously drove through them created ice slides into and around those streams. Runners had no way to avoid taking the ice slides into the frigid streams, and had to crawl out with with wet, frozen feet. Other than that, the otherwise below freezing day was generally sunny and the winds were low. We take consolation where we can get it!
17 truly hard-core runners finished. Barrett Stanton blew away the competition, finishing first in 7:26. Caleb Fowler literally slid into second place in 8:16. Bruce Martin took roughly 2 hours off of last year’s time (remember that 55-degree day?) to finish in third, just behind Caleb, in 8:20. Rebecca Convery was the first female finisher. This was the first VHTRC event for both Rebecca and Caleb, as well as fellow Boyer’s finisher Grant Thorpe. What an intro to the club! I swear, we weren’t trying to haze you all.
Our rock star volunteer squad was truly unbelievable. They didn’t just show up, they worked multiple aid stations, problem solved on the fly, kept the runners warm (for a minute), and pulled off a rolling party.
Veteran Veach Gap Aid Station Captain Jon Jester arrived laughing at the Veach ice skating rink (the planned aid station spot was THAT bad) and scouted a safer spot to set up the grill (pizza bites, grilled cheese, and ramen!), turn on the music, and lay out the booze.
Moose Larson captained a Boyer’s aid station for the first time, at Woodstock Tower. He turned out to be the perfect fit, not just because this former Humvee driver had no problems making it up the steep, icy road to the aid station. He also advised Robert Perry on the correct window (driver side, rear) to break when Robert found himself locked out of his car (damned modern key fobs … ).
Veteran Edinburg Gap Aid Station Captains Kevin and Carl Bligan provided runners with hot dogs, pierogis, tater tots, all forms of warming adult beverages, and in some cases rides home.
Cara Mason was our volunteer sleeper hit. She showed up with a warming hut, introduced us to propane blow torches (SOO many uses), started fires, and provided rides. Emily Fowler and Ruth Behling showed up to support their racing loved ones, and ended up working multiple stations. Nick Drozdiak was our sweeper; he needed to be swept at Edinburg. Dan Aghdam wanted to make sure the runners were safe without a sweeper, so drove and slid the last 9 icy miles of the course and barely avoided ditching his vehicle. We held Nick until the last runner came in safely, and then released him from sweeper jail. Andy and Levi provided the awesome support mentioned above.
Ram Oruganti came back to be the Finish Line Captain he never signed up to be, and an all-day super-helper. If you’ve seen how terribly our RD drives, you know what a boon it was for all that he kept her off the roads, driving her and the supplies to, from, and around the course. He helped set up the aid stations, provided music, and solved problems all day.
Announcement - For those looking forward to a “Boyer’s Lite” course, that will now take place on Elizabeth Furnace weekend. More details to come in the very near future! We will be sticking to the current 40-mile Boyer’s course in December. It’s just too EPIC a day and course to shorten. Plus, Dan Aghdam and Josh Howe promised to bring back the finish line party - cheeseburgers and soup will be on tap. Mark your calendars now - Saturday, December 30, 2023.