We had a great day in the mountains for the 11th running of the Martha Moats Baker Memorial 50k. The weather for this year’s race, held on August 11, 2018, was all over the map. Cooler than normal in the morning, with bright sunshine and high humidity - this gave way at lunch time to clouds, and then rain and finally a full-throated thunderstorm. The storm lasted long enough to cause some interesting trail flooding conditions for the runners, and then gave way to a sunny and pleasant end to the day.
The runners seemed to thrive under these conditions. A record 56 starters took off from the TWOT lot at 7:01 AM and headed up Little Bald. 49 of them ultimately finished the entire “50k” distance (actually considered closer to 33 miles). This made for a finishing percentage of 87.5% (see below for the percentage who covered the entire distance in the 10 previous iterations of the MMB 50k.
A 50th runner, Carole Williamson, attempted to finish, but made a wrong turn that led to her dropping after about 40 miles of running on the day. Carole ended up at Camp Todd, on the opposite side of the Little Bald peak from the finish line area in the TWOT lot. Two runners - and only two this year, which is amazing! - chose the Party Route at the final aid station, and logged roughly 26 miles by running down Tilghman Road from that Grooms Ridge trailhead. Lisa Sidel ended up completing her first “trail marathon” as a result; her time of 8:00 is an approximation, as she finished roughly 20 minutes ahead of the other marathoner on this day, Chris Melvin.
Lance Dockery was the overall winner of MMB 2018. His time of 5:26 now makes him the second fastest person to run this race. Dave Frazier’s event record time from both 2013 and 2014 is 5:18. Dave also holds the second fastest time, with a 5:24 in 2015. Congratulations, Lance, on your win and on this spectacular time! Lance held off 2012 MMB winner, Neal Gorman. Neal has returned to racing this year after taking several years off to focus on starting a family. There was a three-way tie for third: George Sefzik, Enrique Rubio and Chris Pabian.
Sixth overall saw the first woman across the finish line: Kelly MacDonald. Kelly’s time of 6:53 makes her the 2nd fastest woman to negotiate the course at MMB, topped only by Amy Sproston in 2013. Mary Beth Strickler was the second woman to finish this year; Emily Clay and Daisy Weill tied for third (their second tie in three weeks, after a similar tie at Catherine’s Furnace in July). Daisy was the defending champ at MMB, and her time at this year’s race was nearly a half hour faster than her winning time last year.
Congratulations to all the race participants! And a big Thank You to ALL of this year’s coterie of volunteers:
- Course Markings - Vince Bowman and Jack Broaddus
- Reddish Knob A.S. at mile 12.5 and Finish Line - Guy Towler, his sister Jan, and Dennis Herr
- SLAB A.S. at mile 19.5 - Bill Gentry and Lydia Durant
- Grooms Ridge A.S. at mile 25 - The Family Matheson (Adam, Andrew and Will)
- Finish Line - Natalie Kennedy
- Equipment Manager - Dan Aghdam
- Statistical Engineer - Carol Cohen
As has been the case for years, the course markings have been minimal, but have received strongly positive reviews. So added kudos to Vince and Jack for their help again in 2018. The unsettled weather forecast did lead to some rain and stormy conditions, so added kudos to Dan and Guy for bringing enough shelters to keep the aid stations (including at the finish line) covered.
Here is the statistical breakdown on the finishing rate over the years at MMB:
2008 5/11 (45.5%)
2009 9/28 (32.1%)
2010 18/32 (56.3%)
2011 6/25 (24.0%)
2012 11/32 (34.4%)
2013 29/46 (63.0%)
2014 33/48 (68.8%)
2015 32/41 (78.0%)
2016 22/41 (53.7%)
2017 38/51 (74.5%)
2018 49/56 (87.5%)
Come on down to Stokesville in western Virginia for the 12th running of the Martha Moats Baker Memorial 50k, which will be held on Saturday August 10, 2019.