Saturday April 17th, 2021 proved to be a great day for the running of the final Massanutten Training Academy event for 2021. The temps were in the upper 30s/lower 40s early, and likely got close to 60 as the day wore on. It was a dry, breezy and generally cloudy day that all of the runners seemed to enjoy.
As there is no 2021 MMT run to train for, the numbers were down for not only this but all of the three previous runs this year. But there were still reasons to train that varied from other 100 milers looming, such as the Old Dominion 100 miler, to some runners just wanting to get back out on the trails to participate in a supported ultra distance run for the first time since prior to the pandemic. Whatever their individual motivations may have been, collectively they were all in. Of the runners on this day, only Ivory Miceli and Jeff Pence ran less than the full 35 miles. Jeff overslept, so he started at the first aid station exactly at 8am, and then ran the rest of the route to the Camp Roosevelt horse lot finishing area, where his wife picked him up for a shuttle back to his van. Ivory was clearly hoping to complete the full distance, but the infamous rocks of Kerns Mountain claimed another ankle victim in her, and she retired after 24.5 miles to prevent further damage. [Jeff gets credit for being half a starter under these circumstances.]
The advantage of carrying a cell phone and having the RD’s number played out yet again for this run. Lou Brooks missed the first turn in his run and instead of going up and over Peach Orchard Gap and down to Gap Creek on that blue trail, he continued on orange past Stricklers Knob and down to Scothorn Gap, then back to Gap Creek and on from there. Since he added somewhere in the neighborhood of four miles to that first section, he called to alert the volunteers so that they would not worry about what had happened to him. John Fitz was also able to contact the second aid station’s volunteers by phone; in his case due to a missed turn that was leading him back to the first aid station. After a quick course correction, John was saved additional bonus trail time. Other runners found themselves off course a time or two during the day, and they are noted with a “+” along with their 35 miles of distance.
Listed in the “results” are the running times for the MMT #3 participants. This 35-mile training run route generally mirrors the final third of the MMT 100 run course. Time of day is shown for the two aid stations along the way, as well as the time that each runner left the aid stops. Time of day is also shown for the check-in at the finish of the run. Elapsed time is shown in the final column.
Bear in mind: this is NOT a run. No one treated this as a run. These should not be considered run results, as in no way was this event a run. It is strictly a supported training run. The times are provided for informational purposes only. This can help others who pull the route from the event site and run the course self-supported, so that those runners can approximate times. It can assist those considering this training run in future years to estimate their own run times. And it is helpful for volunteers to see the range of times that runners take to cover certain sections. The usual challenging turn from the purple trail onto pink, mid-way between the two aid stations, only nabbed one victim this year. It has been recently reblazed and is now much harder to blow by. More folks actually missed the left-hand turn onto Kerns after their climb up the east side of Jawbone Gap, and then continued down the west side of Jawbone for a spell before realizing their mistake and getting in a bonus climb back to Kerns.
FYI - this is dubbed “skiing Jawbone” since this downhill parallels an area that for a couple of years in the early 1970s served as a ski resort called Mountain Run; the old ski lift is still clearly visible when driving up the Moreland Gap Road from the Shenandoah Valley.
Big thanks to Chelsea Smith for the great job she did stepping up to organize this run with fairly short notice. Thanks also to the day’s volunteers for coming out to support the runners: Jose Cardenas, Dan Aghdam, Tom Corris, Jeff Best, Gary Knipling, Carrie Edwards, Hailey Edwards, Adi Smith and Eli Smith!