The Furnace at Catherine’s Furnace was on full blast mode for this year’s running of the Catherine’s FA 50k. The forecast called for highs close to 100 degrees in some portions of the mid-Atlantic area, and that forecast likely had an impact on a number of race entrants, as the number of pre-race drops from the field was unusually high. 58 runners did take on the challenge of running in the summer weather, and were “treated” to temperatures that started in the 60s but eventually got into the low 90s, with a serious cloak of humidity draped over the course all day.
Race Director Dan Aghdam, in his second year at the Catherine’s helm, put on another well-organized event. The course is thoroughly marked under his tenure, and there were no reports of runners wandering off into uncharted territories this year. The aid stations were well stocked with runner-supplied aid, as well as special treats such as the large stash of ice-cold fruit pops that Sarah Curtis provided for runners at her Furnace aid station (miles 10 and 20 in the race). The VHTRC funding of the event was also well used, as the heat did not deter the runners and volunteers from enjoying the famous CFA “Party in the Parking Lot” after the race. Thanks to volunteer Grill Masters Kirstin and Tom Corris for cranking out the burgers, brats and beverages for everyone!
The race itself was particularly compelling this year. RD Dan has upped the ante from your standard Fat Ass event - there are prizes at Catherine’s for the first man and the first woman. The embossed canvas chairs looked so good together while on display pre-race, and they have not been separated post-race, as the Watkins family continued their amazing year of domination of the local trail races with another sweep at Catherine’s. Adam scorched the course in the amazing time of 4:40, overtaking early leader Dave Frazier in the last 10 miles. Robin finished 4th overall and first among the women in the field with a stellar time of 5:23. She had to battle to hold off the speedy Sarah Schubert from Charlottesville, who was within a few minutes of Robin virtually the entire race. Sarah’s run was particularly noteworthy for an unusual reason: she had forgotten to pack her trail shoes on race morning. After a check of the 211 East parking lot before the start, fellow runner (and eventual third place female) Gaynor Bourgeois, came through with some Merrills that were the right size for Sarah and allowed her to race.
As usual, the membership of the VHTRC came through in strong numbers to man the volunteer posts that RD Dan needed filled - and then some. Of particular note would be race founder and long-time director Jeff Reed returning to man the Bird Knob aid station as its captain; and Katie Keier making an appearance at the 211 East commuter lot finish line to serve as the official timer. Katie’s volunteering is noteworthy since she had just a few days earlier completed the first ever Wild Oak Trail (TWOT) 200 Miler. Thanks to Katie, Jeff and to all of the other volunteers for making this such a successful race!
Volunteer Report - Bermadette Kilcer