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

Keith Knipling

2023 Report

February 25, 2023  •  Fort Valley, VA

15 starters, 10 finishers

The pre-dawn gathering of most of the starters for the 2023 Reverse Ring

Please see below this overall run report for links to the reports and photos of other participants! Below that are the run results, including splits, and last, but very much not least, the list of all the incredible volunteers who came out to the mountains on a cold winter’s weekend to support their fellow runners. Thank you to all the participants for making the 2023 run so memorable and so much fun!

The 18th mostly annual Reverse Ring was held over the weekend of February 25-26. After a week of spring-like to borderline summer-like conditions in the mid-Atlantic, run weekend was graced by the Weather Gods with a nice taste of more appropriate winter temps. The early morning was fabulous, with mostly sunny skies and air temps in the mid to upper 20s. Then clouds rolled in, and eventually late morning some periods of snow flurries, and even pellets dropped on the runners and volunteers, along with some occasional gusts of wind, for 2-3 hours. After that, it was calm and dry, with the clouds breaking for the rest of the run. Very nice racing conditions!

The Edinburg Gap aid station volunteers along with the Moreland Gap volunteers enjoying a brief respite between runners

Our runners generally took advantage. Carl Bligan took off like a man on a mission out of the starters corral and up the climb to Signal Knob at 6:01 AM. He cruised into the first aid station looking very comfortable and on a brisk pace that was just below that of event record holder Danny Mowers. Matt Burke and Tristan Baxendale were the next runners in at Woodstock Tower about 25 minutes later, looking like they were out on a fun training run. By Edinburg Gap and the second aid station, 22 miles in, Carl was forced to retire from the run, after walking down the 2+ mile descent off Wayonase with a painful knee issue.

Matt and Tristan were surprised to now find themselves in the lead when they arrived about 20 minutes later. They continued to share the trail and the lead with each other until about mid-way through the run, after which Tristan pulled away. Our 2022 Ring Champeen, Tristan Baxendale, then went on to take the Reverse Ring win in 17:22. David Peppelman, who had rolled into each of the early aid stations just as Tristan and Matt exited, moved up to finish second in 18:40. Final runner on that finishers’ podium was Matt Burke in 19:42.

Izzy!! The aid station captain at Camp Roosevelt for the second year in a row.

The women’s run was simpler to sort out. Late attrition from the entrants list meant that Sam Neakrase and Kathleen Cusick toed the line as the only women in the 2023 field. Kathleen settled in to a comfortable pace, running with Justin Faul and then also with Cam Baker for most of the first half of the run, before ending up on her own for the final stages. Her run with Cam Baker meant that the only two Double Ring finishers (aka “Bad Ass M-Fer’s of The Ring”) were staging a reunion. Kathleen took the win in 21:38, good for 7th place overall on this day.

The fact that Kathleen’s 21+ hour finish was good for only 7th was an indication of how fast this year’s field was. 8 out of the 10 finishers were under 24 hours (in fact well under 23 hours). Oddly enough, only two finishers were from Virginia: Justin Faul (who finished tied for 4th with Cam Baker), and the oldest finisher to date, Marty Fox (72 years young).

5 of the 10 finishers were completing the Reverse for the first time, so congratulations to these new Masters of The Ring: Tristan Baxendale, David Peppelman, Matt Burke, Chad Cato and Barry Hauptman.

The Crisman Hollow Road aid station volunteers - along with a group of hardy hikers

For the second year in a row, we had “live” results tracking available through an embedded Google sheet on the Reverse Ring run page. This year, multi-time Ring/Reverse runr (and two-time Reverse Ring Champeen), Mike Dobies took that initial simple sheet up to a new level. This included adding “In” and “Out” columns to track how long each runner spent sipping cocktails and sampling fancy pies in each aid station. Big thanks to Mike for his time and effort in bringing more information to those interested in this event, as well as his continued assistance to aid station captain Sarah Smith at her justly famous Milford Gap Oasis, which treats the runners with over-the-top aid in the middle of their long final 25 mile stretch on the east ridge of the Massanuttens.

This was a nice way to go out. After 18 Reverse Rings, and 17 years of hosting other crazies in their efforts to run a circle around the Fort Valley in winter conditions, 2023 was the final year with Bur and Q at the helm. More to come from our perspectives later, but for now, skip down to see the results from yet another outstanding run on the Massanutten Trail.

The view from overlook just past the tower on top of Signal Knob (taken by Greg Trapp in 2017)

Photos by Mike Bur

Hikers' View of the VHTRC's Crisman Hollow Aid by Zhihong Zhang

Other reports


1Tristan Baxendale33MNY17:22
2David Peppelman47MMD18:40
3Matt Burke35MMD19:42
4Cam Baker45MPA19:45
4Justin Faul42MVA19:45
6Chad Cato49MNC21:20
7Kathleen Cusick47FFL21:38
8Luc Claessens57MDE22:19
9Barry Hauptman59MMD25:29:00
10Marty Fox72MVA27:39:00
DNFJohn Calabrese43MVAX
DNFCharles Salsgiver46MMDX
DNFSamantha Neakrase45FVAX
DNFJohn Hord55MMDX
DNFCarl Bligan27MPAX


AS 1 - Woodstock Tower, 13.9 miles
AS 2 - Edinburg Gap, 22.1 miles
AS 3 - Moreland Gap, 30 miles
AS 4 - Crisman Hollow, 36.3 miles (no report)
AS 5 - Camp Roosevelt, 45.9 miles
AS 6 - Milford Gap, 57.5 miles
Finish - Signal Knob, 71.1 miles

PlaceNameAgeSexHomeAS 1 InAS 2 InAS 2 OutAS 3 InAS 3 OutAS 5 InAS 5 OutAS 6 InAS 6 OutFinish
1Tristan Baxendale33MNY2:444:304:506:456:5410:5311:0314:0214:1017:22
2David Peppelman47MMD2:484:414:476:547:0110:5511:0814:2114:2818:40
3Matt Burke35MMD2:444:304:496:456:5411:1111:3215:0815:1919:42
4Cam Baker45MPA3:085:085:127:227:3211:5112:0915:3715:4719:45
4Justin Faul42MVA2:594:595:107:207:3012:0012:1215:3715:4719:45
6Chad Cato49MNC3:245:295:357:507:5812:3712:4716:5717:0521:20
7Kathleen Cusick47FFL3:014:595:107:227:3211:5112:1816:1716:4121:38
8Luc Claessens57MDE3:055:075:177:427:5113:0413:2017:2217:2922:19
9Barry Hauptman59MMD3:205:385:458:168:2313:3713:5619:2319:4225:29:00
10Marty Fox72MVA3:496:226:269:099:1315:0515:2020:3020:4827:39:00
DNFJohn Calabrese43MVA3:486:216:299:099:1415:17XXXX
DNFCharles Salsgiver46MMD3:426:186:259:089:1815:52XXXX
DNFSamantha Neakrase45FVA3:496:486:5210:28XXXXXX
DNFJohn Hord55MMD4:067:027:1010:30XXXXXX
DNFCarl Bligan27MPA2:204:08XXXXXXXX

Due to the lack of cell signal at the Crisman Hollow Road aid station’s location, runners’ arrival and departure times were not successfully saved in the live tracking sheet.


Volunteer Name2023 Reverse Ring Assignment
Mike BurRace Director
Quatro HubbardScorekeeper/Heckler/co-RD
Jeff BestRover
Kevin BliganRover
Allison HolkoWoodstock Tower
Beth FosterWoodstock Tower
Alex PapadopoulosEdinburg Gap
Freddy MorrisEdinburg Gap
Charlene HowardEdinburg Gap
Tom SimondsMoreland Gap
Tracy CooleyMoreland Gap
Freja CooleyMoreland Gap
Tony TaylorCrisman Hollow Road
Jesse FullerCrisman Hollow Road
Jeff HanifordCrisman Hollow Road
Isaiah MartinCamp Roosevelt
Bruce MartinCamp Roosevelt
Sarah SmithMilford Gap
Larry TumblinMilford Gap
Mike DobiesMilford Gap
Keith DunnMilford Gap
Ed WalshMilford Gap
Stephanie FondaMilford Gap
Ivory LiraSignal Knob Cafe
Emily JacobsSignal Knob Cafe
Chelsea SmithSignal Knob Cafe
Kim HerringSignal Knob Cafe
Faith HengesbaughSignal Knob Cafe
Bob GaylordSignal Knob Cafe
Dan AghdamSignal Knob Cafe

Last updated March 2, 2023