Dancing on the rocks during the 2016 Reverse Ring.

Keith Knipling

The Ring

A clockwise tour of the 71-mile Massanutten Trail surrounding Fort Valley, VA.

Date
  • Sat Sep 2, 2023
Start location
Start time
  • 7:00 am
Distance
  • 71 miles
Total ascent/descent
  • 13,500 feet
Aid stations
  1. Milford Gap (13.3 miles)
  2. Camp Roosevelt (24.9 miles)
  3. Crisman Hollow Road (34.4 miles)
  4. Moreland Gap (40.7 miles)
  5. Edinburg Gap (48.7 miles)
  6. Woodstock Tower (56.9 miles)
  7. Powell's Fort Camp (62.4 miles)
GPX file
Print or download
In charge
Reports
Course records
  • Paul Jacobs
    13:29:20 (in 2019)
    Kathleen Cusick
    17:22 (in 2016)

There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.

Will Rogers

The Ring

Massanutten Trail blaze
“Stay on Orange” is the mantra of the The Ring runner.

The Ring is a circuit of the entire 71-mile orange-blazed Massanutten Trail in the George Washington National Forest, on the ridgelines of the eastern and western ranges of the Massanutten Mountains around the Fort Valley, situated roughly between the towns of Front Royal and Luray. The “trail” is hard, rocky, and slow. Sections of the trail have been around for centuries, but the entire, uninterrupted, 71-mile Massanutten Trail was not completed until 2002.

Even before the trail could be officially dedicated in the summer of 2002, Chris Scott convinced a reluctant Anstr Davidson that they had to be the first to run the entire Massanutten Trail. Having beaten others to the glory of christening the trail when they completed that initial circuit run in April of that year, Anstr and Chris were then kind enough to serve as the hosts for the first organized running of The Ring in the fall of 2002 (for others foolish enough not to heed their warnings that a sane person would not really want to do this run). Over the next four years the Lords of The Ring continued to induct new members into the Fellowship of the Ring. After a one-year sabbatical in 2006, The Ring returned in search of more victims, but under two new Ring Leaders. Chris and Anstr passed the burden on to Mike Bur and Quatro Hubbard, who have remained in charge of this Flying Circus ever since.

The Ring is a typical fat ass run in that there are no entry fees, no significant awards, and no t-shirts. The support from this run comes from the generous sponsorship of the VHTRC, and the often over-the-top generosity of the incredible cadre of club volunteers who turn out to help. Entrants in other Fat Ass events are generally admonished that there will be no wimps and no whiners. In this instance, just choosing to start The Ring proves you are not a wimp, and everyone whines at the end. And we mean EVERYONE! We would be disappointed if it appeared as though the runners were actually having fun. So when it gets to be your turn to whine about how badly Signal Knob sucks, or how much you loathe rocks, spiders, bugs, humidity, heat, etc., try to be at least a little bit creative.

The course

Aid StationSplitCumulativeCrew accessDropbagsCutoffMap
Milford Gap13.3 mi13.3 mi
Camp Roosevelt11.6 mi24.9 mi
Crisman Hollow Road9.5 mi34.4 mi
Moreland Gap6.3 mi40.7 mi9:30 pm
Edinburg Gap8.0 mi48.7 mi1:30 am
Woodstock Tower8.2 mi56.9 mi6:00 am
Powell’s Fort Camp5.5 mi62.4 mi

There will be some aid at the Milford Gap crossing of the trail (mile 13.3). This will be mostly a water pit stop for the runners. The biggest mistake runners make is getting behind in their fluids early, so take full advantage of this water stop in the middle of the opening 25-mile stretch of The Ring. Seriously. This means YOU!! So many runners over the years have failed to keep up with their fluids (and calories, but mostly fluids) during these morning hours while sailing along the beautiful eastern ridge of the Massanuttens. They then find themselves in a fatal deficit by the time they pull into Roosevelt (or Crisman or Moreland on down the trail). Do not be shy in tanking up at Milford! And do not forget to thank the wonderful volunteers who hike all that aid up a rocky access trail to make it available to you.

The first full aid station, where you will encounter your roving runner bag, will be at Camp Roosevelt at mile 25, so plan accordingly. The other official checkpoints are listed below, and if all goes according to plan, your runner bag will be waiting for you at each of them (through Woodstock). We will not shuttle your bag to the last aid station at Powells Fort Camp, but instead will return it to the finish at Signal Knob directly from the aid station at Woodstock. Plan accordingly!

One VERY important note about the aid station at Camp Roosevelt: it is NOT on the orange trail! The Massanutten Trail, after it descends from Kennedy Peak and also from a lovely view at the top of Route 675 at Edith Gap, emerges from a horse parking lot back on to the paved Route 675. While the trail crosses the road to continue into Duncan Hollow, you will need to follow some streamers down the road about 150 yards or so and then in to the aid station, which is set up under a large wooden shelter adjacent to the Camp Roosevelt camp grounds. After you finish with your visit to the Camp Roosevelt aid station, you will then run back up the road that roughly 150 yard distance to pick up the trailhead on what will now be on the right-hand side of the road. Do NOT miss this aid station! Your .gpx track should lead you into it, but again, follow those streamers down and back up the road for your aid.

There are three hard cut-offs at The Ring. The first is at Moreland Gap (mile 40.7), which you need to leave before 9:30 pm to continue the run with our support. The second is at Edinburg (mile 48.7), where you need to be out by 1:30 am. The final enforced cut-off is at Woodstock (mile 56.9, and last runner bag aid station), at 6:00 am. We hope that these cut-offs will put you on pace to get through Powells Fort Camp before 8:00 am and then on to the finish before noon on Sunday (a 29 hour pace for the 71 miles). These cut-offs are put in place for the benefit of the run volunteers, and they will be strictly enforced. While there are no hard cut-offs at the earlier aid stations, runners who have successfully made the formal cut-offs and finished the run should expect to make their way through Camp Roosevelt prior to 3:30 pm and through Crisman Hollow Road at the southern end of the course before 7:30 pm.

Drop bags

Each runner will be allowed a single, well-marked runner bag, which will be collected prior to the start in the parking lot. This bag should be in the style of a gym bag or backpack. By “well-marked” we mean PUT YOUR NAME ON IT. ON THE OUTSIDE. On something that will be be visible to volunteers in the aid station. Using a method of marking that will stay attached to your bag. This means YOU! Sigh - don’t be that person this year!

Please do not use another type of “bag” such as a hard container or a cobbled-together plastic or trashbag. The latter can be easily confused by someone shuttling aid as literal trash, and then not make its way out of their vehicle and to the aid station. Please try to keep the size of your runner bag within reason. Make sure that it will also reliably and easily seal so that the contents remain in your bag during transport. And did we mention that it should have your name clearly marked on it?

We will shuttle that single bag around the course for you. You will not see it at Milford Gap (the first aid) nor at Powell’s Fort Camp (the last aid station). But you should see it at every aid station in between, and then around the Signal Knob Café at the finish line, where you will want to retrieve it and put it back in your vehicle. After you make use of your drop bag at any particular aid station, and once you know you are done with it, please do NOT put it back with the other drop bags, but instead make a point of giving it to a volunteer. That way we can ensure it is included in the next volunteer shuttle out of that aid station and on to the next.

PATC Maps

Unless you know the course well, we recommend that you obtain Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) map G. These are topographic maps that cover the trails in the Massanutten Mountains north of US 211) and are printed on water-resistant, tear-resistance synthetic stock in six colors.

You can order on the PATC Web site.

Map G is also available at REI.

Other resources

Entry

Those Pesky Qualifications

Entry is strictly limited to only those who meet the qualifications detailed below. Seriously. We check. So please don’t try to enter if you don’t meet these basic qualifications. This is a very challenging, unmarked run, and it is in no way the kind of events that someone fairly new to ultra trail racing in rocky, mountainous conditions should undertake. At least not under our watch!

In order to enter The Ring, you will need to demonstrate that you are “qualified” to run in this event. A runner who is already a member of The Fellowship obviously meets this requirement. Otherwise, we are just looking for runners to fall into one of the following two simple categories in order to gain entry into The Ring:

  • Completion of a trail 50 miler AND recent experience on the Massanutten trails (e.g. “Massanutten Training Academy” MMT 100 training runs).
    or
  • Completion of any 100-mile run.

Backcountry experience and the ability to read a map would be helpful since there will be no ribbons or glow sticks to follow, just the “native” trail markings (i.e. those orange-painted blazes on the trees). Carrying a course description and the PATC Map G is highly advisable (see link below).

Entry

For a few years, The Ring utilized a lottery. In more recent years during which the run has been held, a lottery was ultimately not needed. So for 2023 entry will again be on a first come, first served basis (with entry still subject to review, to ensure that Those Pesky Qualifications have been met prior to approval).

If you decide that you will not be participating in The Ring after you have entered, let Bur and Q know, so that they can remove your name from the entrants’ list. This helps with the final planning for run weekend.

Volunteer

Anyone interested in volunteering at The Ring should contact Bur and Q – they would love to have your help. They are specifically seeking volunteers to handle the following roles during the run:

  1. To head up each of the aid stations along the course
  2. At least one additional volunteer at each aid station for clipboard and other support
  3. At least two “roving aid” volunteers, who will leave each aid station one and then two hours after the lead runner with drops bags.
  4. A night-time “rover” to help with shuttling not only late bags, but runners who have dropped at the later aid stations.
  5. Extra hands in particular to help with the Milford hike-in aid station, and the Signal Knob Café at the finish line, are especially appreciated. The former because many gallons of liquids have to make that 10+ minute hike up a rough trail to the aid station location; the latter because it is open from early evening on Saturday until as late as noon on Sunday, and those overnight hours work out better for all with several folks sharing the responsibility of being awake to greet the runners.

Volunteers - 2022 (not updated yet for 2023)

  • Mike Bur

  • Quatro Hubbard

  • Larry Tumblin - Milford Gap/Rover

  • Kathy Tumblin - Milford Gap

  • Jamie Greenawalt - Milford Gap/Rover/Pacer

  • Ram Oruganti - Milford Gap/Rover/Pacer

  • Alex Papadopoulos - Camp Roosevelt Captain

  • Art Perraud - Camp Roosevelt/Rover

  • Liz Perraud - Camp Roosevelt/Rover

  • Lou Brooks - Camp Roosevelt/Rover

  • Kevin Bligan - Crisman Hollow Road Captain

  • Carl Bligan - Crisman Hollow Road

  • Brian Compagnone - Crisman Hollow Road/Moreland Gap/Rover

  • Tom Simonds - Moreland Gap Captain

  • Larry Watson - Moreland Gap

  • Daisy Weill - Edinburg Gap Captain

  • Michael Burgio - Edinburg Gap

  • Alex Stone - Edinburg Gap

  • Heather Dougherty - Edinburg Gap

  • Marcel Lettre - Edinburg Gap

  • Melissa Gildea - Woodstock Tower Captain

  • Michael Gildea - Woodstock Tower

  • Jesse Fuller - Powells Fort Camp Captain

  • Sam Coyner - Powells Fort Camp/Rover

  • Tracy Cooley - Signal Knob Finish Line Aid Captain

  • Judith Weber - Signal Knob Finish Line Aid

  • Ron Weber - Signal Knob Finish Line Aid

  • Freja Cooley - Signal Knob Finish Line Aid Security

The Fellowship of The Ring

The Fellowship of The Ring — those who have previously completed The Ring — currently consists of 266 members. Previously, the best part of being a member of The Fellowship was that, unless you were the first finisher the year before, you were not eligible to run The Ring again. That original rule prohibiting recidivism has been eliminated. If you have run The Ring in previous years, you are now welcome to come back and inflict all of this punishment on yourself again. Though based on the reactions to their experience, many runners clearly wish that they could once again be formally prohibited from ever running The Ring again.

The selective amnesia of most trail runners is an amazing thing to behold. Virtually every finisher touches on these three themes before they drift off to sleep after completing their 71-mile run: the aid stations and volunteers were great; the finishing descent down Signal Knob sucks; and thank goodness that this is done, so that I never have to do it again. Yet somehow many do return to beat themselves up on the rocky Massanutten Trail yet again.

Now the best part of being in The Fellowship is that only its members are eligible to run the Reverse Ring in late February, when they can become a Master of The Ring. So plan ahead for 2024! Get this prerequisite course completed in 2023 so that you will be eligible to come back and play on the same beautiful trail in the middle of the winter, which is when it really shines.

A final, and special note, there are to date only two “Bad A** M-F’ers of The Ring;” two runners who took on the Ultimate Ring Challenge. Cam Baker and Kathleen Cusick have both successfully completed The Double Ring. This involved heading off on Friday to do the Reverse Ring, followed by finishing in time to join their compatriots for The Ring at the usual 7 AM start time on the Saturday. Both then finished The Ring, capping off their 140+ mile weekend journeys in both directions around the Fort Valley on the orange-blazed Massanutten Trail.

The Lords of the Ring

  • Anstr Davidson
  • Chris Scott

The Class of 2002 (6)

  • Harry Bruell
  • Scott Mills
  • David Horton
  • Bethany (Hunter) Patterson
  • John Dodds
  • Gary Knipling

The Class of 2003 (9)

  • Ryan Henry
  • Randy Dietz
  • Jaret Seiberg
  • Steve Pero
  • Deb Pero
  • Mike Dobies
  • Alex Papadopoulos
  • Bill Turrentine
  • Ed Demoney

The Class of 2004 (15)

  • Sue Johnston
  • Scott Brockmeier
  • Mike Bur
  • Scott Crabb
  • Bill Wandel
  • Quatro Hubbard
  • Sophie Speidel
  • Margie Hughes
  • Anita Finkle
  • Barb Isom
  • Vicki Kendall
  • Dru Sexton
  • Graham Zollman
  • Bob Phillips
  • Carolyn Gernand

The Class of 2005 (12)

  • Jeff Wilbur
  • Steve Burton
  • Mike Broderick
  • Greg Loomis
  • Tom Corris
  • Kerry Owens
  • Ed Cappuccino
  • Bill Gentry
  • Bill Losey
  • John DeWalt
  • Bob Combs
  • Jeff Washburn

[No event in 2006]

The Class of 2007 (10)

  • Mike Schuster
  • Joe Clapper
  • Jim Harris
  • Diana Widdowson
  • Debbie Shaffer
  • David Snipes
  • John Straub
  • Teresa Sukiennicki
  • John Prohira
  • Gerard Pritulski

The Class of 2008 (9)

  • Keith Knipling
  • Jon Norris
  • Dave Garman
  • Bryan Banning
  • Frank Probst
  • Bob Anderson
  • Jen Jacobs
  • Alan Roche
  • Mark Mckennett

The Class of 2009 (12)

  • Sean Andrish
  • Dan Rose
  • Justin Faul
  • Mason Parker
  • Ryan Fulwider
  • Karsten Brown
  • Zsuzsanna Carlson
  • Paul Crickard
  • Marti Kovener
  • Gary Lukacs
  • Robert Andrulis
  • Caroline Williams

The Class of 2010 (13)

  • Jack Kurisky
  • Dave Yeakel
  • Ernesto Casarez
  • Elise Harrington
  • Rhonda Stricklett
  • Alan Gowen
  • John Godinet
  • Scott Millar
  • Gary Maier
  • Rick Moyer
  • Jill (Devereaux Jacobs) Diss
  • Carolyn Wilson
  • Kim Love-Ottobre

The Class of 2011 (8)

  • Rande Brown
  • Cam Baker (Double Ring!!)
  • Kari Brown
  • Jeff Best
  • Yukiko Nishide
  • Hiroyuki Nishide
  • Brian Beduhn
  • Jeff Gura

The Class of 2012 (11)

  • Danny Mowers
  • Kent Gallup
  • Matt Smythe
  • Ken Wolters
  • Gray Weaver
  • Ed Rangel
  • Charlie Joyce
  • Stephen Cooper
  • Larry Huffman
  • David Quivey
  • Doug Sullivan

The Class of 2013 (15)

  • Brad Hinton
  • Jack Anderson
  • John Cassilly
  • Joe Schramka
  • Kathleen Cusick (Double Ring!!)
  • Jay Finkle
  • Paul Lefelhocz
  • Ron Eshleman
  • Michael Gildea
  • Tony Escobar
  • Mitchell Potter
  • Diane Behm
  • Shelly Cable
  • Todd Hanks
  • KC Guevara

The Class of 2014 (14)

  • Chris McIntosh
  • Grun (Evan) Fisher
  • Robin Watkins
  • Gavin Watson
  • Mike Sutherland
  • Heath Harris
  • Dave Herring
  • Irawan Balcet
  • Steve Boutilier
  • Gaynor Bourgeois
  • Tom Hendell
  • Leonard Martin
  • Rachel DuBois
  • Katie Raezer

The Class of 2015 (21)

  • Joey Cohen
  • Angela Russell
  • Erik Price
  • Andrew Simpson
  • Chris Pabian
  • Aaron Ellison
  • Eric McGlinchey
  • Scott Lee
  • Daniel Winkle
  • Bruce Tweedie
  • Greg Trapp
  • Stephanie Dempsey
  • Betsy Nickle
  • Carol Cohen
  • Todd Lewis
  • Gilbert Gray
  • Katie Keier
  • Jen Page
  • Bob Gaylord
  • Andrew Thomas
  • Sarah Curtis

The Class of 2016 (24)

  • Jake Rankinen
  • Jeff Garstecki
  • Eric Harris
  • Levi Mason
  • Patrick Vaughn
  • Danny Rogers
  • Rick Bennett
  • Larry Watson II
  • Michal Kawecki
  • Lara Zoeller
  • Casey Fisher
  • Adeline Ntam
  • Philip Yeager
  • Dave Woll
  • Alvin Lee
  • John Fitz
  • Rob Kolb
  • Dan Aghdam
  • Marty Fox
  • Guy Towler
  • Don Riley
  • Ed Walsh
  • Jayme Dubinsky
  • Chris Miller

The Class of 2017 (32!)

  • Adam Watkins
  • Christopher Moore
  • George Sefzik
  • Paul Jacobs
  • Sheila Vibert
  • Jesee Fuller
  • Todd Ellick
  • Ronald Green
  • Brett Martin
  • Doug Massengale
  • Adam Katkhouda
  • Andy Peterson
  • Josh Wadlington
  • Josh Jones
  • Rob Tidwell
  • Justin Peake
  • Andrew Burnette
  • Dan Hawk
  • Jeff Pence
  • Samantha (Pitts-Kiefer) Neakrase
  • Ashley Carr
  • Brian Carr
  • Brian Chiles
  • Kathy Hoegler
  • Larry Tumblin
  • Hillary Peabody
  • Richard Sisson
  • Kelly Fletcher
  • Judith Weber
  • Ken Furman
  • Joyce Fendley
  • Jamie Greenawalt

The Class of 2018 (29)

  • Dan Fogg
  • John Marciari
  • Matt Christovich
  • Michael McDonnell
  • Jose Cardenas
  • Daisy Weill
  • Ryan Brown
  • Josh Howe
  • Charlene Howard
  • Jim Lopez
  • Barry Hauptman
  • Paul Valenzuela
  • Dawn Gray
  • Steve Andrews
  • Jimm Ouellette
  • Homer Komthirath
  • Jesse Parker
  • Derek Fox
  • James Miller
  • Stephanie Fonda
  • Mandy Pierce
  • Dani Seiss
  • Kurt Byrnes
  • Jason Maruccio
  • Jeffrey Klemm
  • Elsa Araujo
  • Jon Jester
  • Amanda Lichy
  • Lisa Johnston

The Class of 2019 (18)

  • Jeremy Lucier
  • Christie Taylor
  • Heather Dougherty
  • Ryan Nebel
  • Matt Banning
  • Carl Bligan
  • Michael Zinn
  • Raymond Rogers
  • William Fallier
  • Jason Farr
  • Luc Claessens
  • Daniel Gracias
  • David Peppelman
  • Kevin Walker
  • Travis Bertram
  • Lou Brooks
  • Derek Kennedy
  • Sirisha Golla

The Class of 2021 (15)

[no official run in 2020]

  • Barrett Stanton
  • Michael Roberts
  • Dirk Schulze
  • Brian Collins
  • Keith VanGraafeiland
  • Charles Salsgiver
  • Blair Petrilli
  • Emily Warner
  • Aaron Bloom
  • Barbara McMullen
  • Michael Salsgiver
  • Tony Taylor
  • John Hord
  • John Calabrese
  • Sue Heineman

The Class of 2022 (9)

  • Tristan Baxendale
  • Tommy Diehl
  • Matt Burke
  • Chad Cato
  • Ali Mohammed
  • Michelle Rindos
  • AJ Johnson
  • Nick Schuster
  • Wayne Sheng

Last updated September 6, 2022

Club Event Participant Medical Policy

This is an event with very real risks to your well being. The VHTRC does not provide medical care for runners at this event. Runners are responsible for their own health, safety, and well being at this event. No doctors, nurses, or emergency medical technicians, or anyone with any medical training are available along the course, at any aid station, or at the finish. The club does not supply any medical goods or services, including bandages, splints, antiseptic, or Ibuprofen or any other drugs to maintain the health of runners. Physical, medical, and emergency care is the runners' responsibility. In case of an emergency, we will endeavor to get local emergency personnel to an injured runner as soon as possible. Since most of our events are in remote areas, medical care may be far away in distance or time. Each year, runners finish — or are forced to drop out — with scrapes, deep cuts, hematomas, dislocations, and sprains. Runners have experienced cuts, bruises, bee stings, and asthma attacks. This is an event with very real risks.