Sunrise from Signal Knob, taken in the early miles of the 2014 Reverse Ring.

Keith Knipling

2017 Report

February 25, 2017  •  Fort Valley, VA

37 starters, 28 finishers


It was a record-breaking year for this 12th edition of the Reverse Ring (held over its traditional final full weekend in February, which in 2017 was Feb 25-26). 37 of the 41 entrants made their way to the starting line at the north end of the Signal Knob parking lot, nestled up against the northern entrance to the Fort Valley. This was the biggest field for the Reverse Ring, breaking the record set last year. Likely this is a trend that will continue - we certainly hope so! It was also great to see 75% of the field make it to the finish. 28 finishers is a new record as well. The conditions could not have been too much better for the run. The unusually warm February leading up to the weekend meant no chance of snow or ice, and the trail was dry. The weather during the run was not bad, particularly when compared to conditions in the surrounding areas. A front came through on Saturday afternoon and evening, and the wind picked up dramatically, particularly for the night running on the east ridge. Temperatures plunged into the 20s then, but the rain, thunderstorms and hail in the region bypassed the Massanuttens, so, all in all, good winter running conditions.

More Records - first, both of the winners set new course records in 2017! Danny Mowers got off to a lightning fast start, and never let up. The Reverse Ring record has been held previously by Dan Rose, with a time of 14:57 (one minute faster than Keith Knipling’s previous record). Danny was shooting for about 14:30. That turned out to be way too conservative of a target, as he finished instead in 13:46. And at the finish he looked energized enough to turn around and do another loop. The first male finisher at the 2016 Ring was the first runner up at his initial running of the Reverse Ring - Jake Rankinen overcame some jet lag after a late flight in from San Diego to just about hit his goal time of 15 hours, finishing in 15:11. Keith Knipling overcame overheating during much of his run to finish third, one hour behind Jake in a time of 16:11. Keith was incentivized to get his Reverse miles done and dusted, as he was booked on a flight TO San Diego on Sunday morning.

On the women’s side, the run belonged once again to Kathleen Cusick. Kathleen was fourth overall and first woman to the finish, with a great time of 16:27, knocking considerable time off her own event record. Kathleen overcame an outstanding effort at securing the Best Blood Award, and to add insult to all that injury, she also had to deal with equipment failure that led to her jerryrigging her shoes at the Camp Roosevelt aid station (mile 46) with duct tape. “Doctor” Jeff Pence got Kathleen’s knees and shoes squared away there, ensuring that she could complete the final 25 mile stretch over the east ridge to secure another Reverse Ring win. Second woman to the finish was a revelation - Jen Jacobs had an outstanding run in her return to trail racing in the mountains after a hiatus of several years. Jen shocked herself with her speed and consistency, and finished in 21:53.

This was a fast year in general, as the first five men to finish all completed the Reverse Ring in times that would have qualified for the Top Ten finishing times in the run’s history. 18 of the 28 runners finished in under 24 hours. There was no buckle to commemorate that achievement - in fact, no swag at all. Hopefully no one felt cheated at the finish! If so, the Signal Knob Cafe’s amazing fare, courtesy of Steph Danahy and her sous chef, John Stacy, likely more than made up for that lack of hardware or run gear. This year’s theme were stuffed potatoes (white or sweet), and they were a delicious and filling as ever.

The weather and trail conditions no doubt played a big part in all these fast times and the high finishing percentage. The usual collection of amazing volunteers were also clearly key. Year after year it is amazing to see the number and degree of support that the VHTRC’s members display at a Fat Ass event such as the Reverse Ring, and again, they came through for the runners in fine style. Thanks so much to the club and to that coterie of volunteers for making this run such a special and successful event.

Other records of note: A glance at the results will reveal a column called “Class” that identifies what year each runner finished The Ring, became a member of the Fellowship, and thus became eligible to run the Reverse Ring. Steve Pero set what almost certainly will be an unbreakable record in the largest gap in time between his running of The Ring and joining the Fellowship, and his completing the Reverse and becoming a Master of The Ring. 14 years had elapsed! Steve was pleased to get this achievement checked off of his ultra list. Hopefully the other 17 runners who are now Masters of The Ring as a result of their finish are equally pleased at their accomplishment. And that they will want to come back for more in the years to come. The final runner to finish, and to become a Master of The Ring, was also the oldest runner to have finished this run. Congratulations to Ed Walsh! The field got to start their run by singing Happy Birthday to Ed, as he turned 68 on run day.

If you are interested in joining the birthday chorus next year, then you will want to be a member of the Fellowship of The Ring in time for the 13th running of the Reverse Ring on Feb. 24 2018.

Other reports

Jen Jacob’s report at Old City Crossfit.


Steve Pero’s photos | Mik Bur’s photos


PlaceReverse Ring 2017ClassSexAgeStateWoodstock/14.2Edinburg/22.4Moreland/30.4Crisman/36.8Camp Rosey/46.1Milford/57.5Finish
1Danny Mowers2012MPA392:113:355:096:298:2110:5613:46
2Jake Rankinen2016MVA322:243:545:357:149:0111:5115:11
3Keith Knipling2008MVA412:354:186:198:0710:1013:0016:11
4Kathleen Cusick2013FFL412:424:296:197:599:5812:5916:27
5Alexander Papadopoulos2003MVA422:374:216:238:0210:0813:1516:57
6Joey Cohen2015MDC332:484:296:197:569:5213:1217:43
7Jeffrey Garstecki2016MMD482:554:476:508:4111:0515:0718:57
8Dan Rogers2016MMD412:554:537:069:0711:2915:0119:03
9Jack Anderson2013MDC342:344:186:198:1910:5014:5219:11
10Cam Baker2011MPA393:185:247:489:4512:1916:2221:01
10Jim Harris2007MOH523:355:468:0910:0412:3016:2221:01
12Dan Aghdam2016MVA483:185:357:5910:0812:4616:5421:14
13Larry Watson II2016MMD502:574:567:179:3912:1916:2721:16
14Andrew Thomas IV2015MVA343:065:247:519:5112:3416:4621:47
15Jen Jacobs2008FDC403:195:307:519:5112:3016:4721:53
16Michal Kawecki2016MPA373:185:317:5210:0712:5317:1822:02
17John Fitz2016MMD423:135:247:5110:0212:2716:3422:03
18Robert Kolb2016MVA493:185:307:5110:0512:5517:4023:36
19Paul Lefelhocz2013MOH483:516:128:5011:0314:0319:1224:55
20Adeline Ntam2016FMD373:285:408:0910:3513:4719:2925:33
21Jayme Dubinsky2016FVA333:466:158:5911:3014:3819:3125:35
22Marty Fox2016MVA663:225:478:2510:5513:5919:2925:41
22Don Riley2016MMD533:426:08xxx11:2214:3719:5225:41
22Gilbert Gray2015MMD543:516:209:1011:3114:3819:5225:41
25Steve Pero2003MNH653:526:158:4611:0514:1719:4425:43
26Sarah Curtis2015FVA353:486:209:1711:5415:2020:4427:03
27Leonard Martin2014MTN633:446:279:1711:5615:3221:1627:47
28Ed Walsh2016MVA683:225:548:4411:3215:0721:1928:10
NopeGaynor Bourgeois2014FDC483:295:408:0910:3113:32xxxDNF
NopeStephanie Dempsey2015FVA403:355:568:2110:4013:47xxxDNF
NopeGuy Towler2016MMD473:265:578:3411:2814:38xxxDNF
NopeTony Escobar2013MVA533:406:109:1011:5415:23xxxDNF
NopeChris Miller2016MMD373:456:159:13xxxxxxxxxDNF
NopeChris McIntosh2014MVA432:164:07xxxxxxxxxxxxDNF
NopeStephen Cooper2012MMD623:245:54xxxxxxxxxxxxDNF
NopeAlvin Lee2016MMD42xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxDNF
NopeAngela Russell2015FMD40xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxDNF

Last updated December 16, 2019