Results for the Elizabeth’s Furnace Fat Ass 50k, held on a sunny but cool Saturday March 16, 2019. This was the 14th running of the run.
Congratulations to Joey Cohen for taking first in a time of 5:39:03. Jack Kurisky took second in 5:41:11. Kyle Lawrence hopped off of his mountain bike for the day to finish third, seconds ahead of a fast-closing Ryan Kidwiler. The 5th podium spot was a bit crowded this year, with Erik Price coming in with Adam Watkins, with times of 5:52.
Sheila Vibert was the first woman to the Signal Knob finish line, in tenth overall with a time of 6:11:25. Rebecca Byerly finished second, after driving all the way down from New York City to make her mid-Atlantic racing return after several years. Jamie Greenawalt and Dawn Gray shared the EFA 50k’s bronze with times of 8:24, and the women’s podium was rounded out by Jamie’s sister Shelly Cable. Great job, one and all!
An explanation of the alternate distances covered by the 8 runners who did not record official finishes.
The 28 mile route is also known as “Keith’s Course’ after its originator, Keith Knipling. This year three runners inadvertently missed the road turn to climb Signal Knob after descending Doll’s Ridge just short of halfway through the run. They instead climbed the “Big Blue” (Tuscarora Trail) and then descended to the Elizabeth’s Furnace aid station, having clipped off about 2+ miles of the course as a result of their miscue. Runners who take Keith’s Course generally don’t realize their error until they get a sense of how much higher up in the field they suddenly are when they roll into the Furnace aid station, compared to where they were at the first aid station at Mudhole Gap.
The 23 mile route, this year covered only by Katie Keier, is the distance given to a runner who comes all the way down the Big Blue to the Furnace aid station, and then immediately turns around to go back up to the finish line. The 22 mile route, again covered by a single runner in 2019 (Jeremy Gray) is the distance given to a runner who stops at the Furnace aid station and gets a ride back to the Signal Knob parking lot. And finally the 21 mile distance is awarded to runners who branch off on their way down Big Blue to instead go directly to the finish on the orange Massanutten Trail.
The finishing percentage this year was a sparkling 88+%! This may have been a reflection of the course conditions. For the first time in what seems like living memory, a Saturday run was blessed with a dry, sunny day and ground conditions that were not a muddy quagmire. While the course was not record-setting fast (the records set last year by James Fogg for the men, and in 2017 by Robin Watkins for the women, remain intact), runners were commenting on what a nice change from their recent experiences it was to actually run with dry feet. Dry, other than the usual dunking their feet (and legs) took in the fast-flowing waters that needed to be forded five times in Mudhole Gap.
Perhaps the high finishing rate was due to the great swag at the finish line. The EFA 50k has traditionally given out boxes of Girl Scout cookies to the top finishers and for Best Blood honorees. With a dozen boxes each provided to run management by both Carrie Drummond and Chris Fogg, the award categories went much deeper than usual. In particular, just about ALL trail-mishap bleeding was eventually stanched by a box of Tagalogs or Thin Mints.
Finally, the high finishing rate may have been a reflection of the usual Sticker Mania. Only finisher’s were awarded the newly-designed Elizabeth’s Furnace bumper sticker; they also had the option of grabbing instead one of the old-school versions of the sticker. And to make up for the rank incompetence that co-RD Quatro Hubbard had shown at some other recent Q-Bur run productions, co-RD Mike Bur made sure to bring ALL the stickers that he could conjure up. So stickers for recently completed events such as Quad State Quad Busters and the very popular Waterfall 50k were available for any all finishers who had not been able to get their just reward at recent finishes of those events. Bur was so thorough in his eagerness to bring any and all missing bumper stickers that rumor had it he was handing out Nixon-Agnew stickers from the election of 1972.
Big thanks to a great collection of volunteers, who turned out in literal droves for this year’s run. A great group hiked aid into the aid station at Mudhole Gap; the Drummond-McGlincheys had a wonderful St. Paddy’s theme in full force at their standard spot at the Furnace; and finally Sarah Smith cranked out a non-stop flow of wood-fired pizzas from her Signal Knob Café at the finish. Thanks to them and to all the other volunteers who came to support their fellow runners!