For the 20th year, members of VHTRC and other trail runners gathered at Prince William Forest Park on New Year’s Day to have the opportunity to race “The Redeye,” a 50K distance. On Friday January 1, 2016, it even felt a little like winter, with cloudy skies and temperatures hanging in the 40’s all day. Over 130 runners showed up for the late start of 8:00 AM to do at least one “Redeye loop”.
Even though over 80% of the participants had been there before, Bruce Tweedy & Ed Walsh had marked the course the day before with familiar blue ribbon. In anticipation of a larger crowd this year, the Park had opened up another parking area to us; and thanks to Ed for delaying his start of the run to help guide arrivals pushing the starting time. Both Bruce and Ed were among the 41 runners doing all three loops. Because we need to have all ribbons down by the end of the day, Bruce once again cleared markings on his 3rd loop, which added a bit of suspense for those newbies in the back of the pack.
Brandon Mathews set a new Event Record with a blistering time of 4:20:24. Grace Fisher, who had the previous record from the run in 2015 (4:29), finished 4 minutes faster this year, but still second to Brandon.
Included in the list of entrants were seven married couples and three sets of brothers. The Redeye is sponsored by the VHTRC and is considered a “local running event”, but the word gets out somehow attracting others. One was Vincent Ma who flew into Washington National/Reagan from California the day before. Vincent ran the Redeye 50K on Friday (finishing 5th in 5:32), flew to Boston to run a marathon in MA on Saturday, and then was to be in Florida to run a marathon on Sunday. This was all part of his mission to run a marathon/+ in each state.
As part of the briefing, runners were asked to be on the lookout for potential Colenso Award winners. Rob indoctrinated this Award a few years back by being the most hungover participant. There was just one nominee for 2016: Katie Keier. I witnessed Katie crossing the swinging bridge her first time, as she was holding pretty close to the railing. This is certainly a good omen for Katie’s 2016 running calendar.
Other notable happenings from the day:
- Many well-behaved dogs were present including the trio paired with Laura Bennet, Holly Franz and Kate Montgomery. Toni Aurilio and Bill Gentry finished their 3 loops together, each with a mush-dog Vizsla attached to the reins.
- Several runners continued “streaks” of Redeye finishes including: an early starting Stephanie Wilson – 6, Larry Huffman – 4, Quatro Hubbard & Bill Gentry - 3, others (?)
- Sarah Smith, after completing 2 loops, became Bartender Supreme with fancy, spicy, and delicious rehydration concoctions. Plus nutritious!
- Ranger Ken was on duty for the Park, but he must have been securing some of the other 8,000 acres of PWFP since we never saw him at Pine Grove. All participants were on good behavior, however, and I believe we left the Park at least as clean as we found it.
- Two runners work at North Face and brought a number of North Face thermos bottles and tumbler mugs for random distribution to participants. These were gladly received by some of the “one loopers” who had nothing else to do but rehydrate and heckle the real runners and accept nice “gifts” with open hands. My Bad for not remembering who these fine gents were, but thanks to North Face for joining in and having a presence at Redeye.
- The selection and display of aid was phenomenal, especially when considering the donations were at the whim of the participants. John Sondermann brought his sub sandwich tray again, and I actually saw him getting to taste one. Bob & Kari Anderson had a plate of caramelized bacon with nut crumbs. I took control of that treat to entice runners to go out for their 3rd loop. It even worked on some of the vegans present.
- As with most VHTRC events, more people are there to give rather than receive:
- After the DFL runner (clock time), Jeff Klemm, came up the hill for the 3rd time, Paul Crickard, Dave Herring, and “Smitty” remained at the finish ‘til the end sorting through the detritus of the day for the recyclables, trash, bird food, or future aid categories. Anstr Davidson made up the runner entry sign-in sheets again as an attempt at some organization around the S/F table. Thank you to them and to others for pitching in to make the Redeye a very easy run to host.
Another Redeye is “in the books”; and the great start of their 2016 running year of Happy Trails was had by many. As happens periodically, January 1st, 2017 will be on a Sunday. Plan now to renew next year in the most glorious cathedral of All.