The results of the inaugural running of the Waterfall 50km, also affectionately known as Bur’s Death March.
The very challenging figure-8 course, run on the sections of the Massanutten Mountains on either side of Route 211, shed most of the field by the second aid station at mile 20. Only 13 of the 53 starters went on to finish, but happily all did so before dark. Another 20 runners followed the course to the 2nd aid station before cutting the course short by going directly to the finish from the Massanutten Visitor Center, but their accomplishments must be noted, as all of them had to go UP the tough Waterfall climb twice. Most of the remaining 20 runners took shortcuts back to the finish that allowed them to avoid a second ascent of Waterfall. A handful of Charlottesville-based runners climbed Waterfall with the rest of the field but then headed directly to the Visitor Center on the road, and continued on a course of their own devising that involved many fewer rock-strewn Massanuten trails.
No runners appeared to get seriously lost or hurt, so a great day all the way around. The weather was generally in the mid 20s to low 30s, with a mid-morning dusting of just under an inch of snow making the run that much more festive. Looks like this MLK Weekend Training Day #2 replacement for the old Gap to Gap (or 211 East to 211 East) run was a hit, so expect to see a reprise in 2017 with minimal changes.
Congratulations to the first finisher, and the King of Waterfall, Matt Bugin, who barely seemed to break a sweat while finishing in a hair over 6 hours on this course with nearly 8,000 feet of elevation gain. The Queen of Waterfall (first female finisher) was Sara Fanous, who was swept along most of the day in the entertaining company of Tom Simonds and later Gary Knipling during what she was treating as a TJ 100km training run.
Special congratulations to the runners who completed this run while also finishing the Day 1 running of the Massanutten Training Academy the day before, another 50k that covered the bulk of the first third of the Massanutten 100 miler course from the entrance to the Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp at the south end of the Fort Valley to the Signal Knob parking lot at the north end of the valley: Kyle Lawrence, Andy Peterson, Dave Herring, Jesse Fuller, and - with a bit of an asterisk - Gary Knipling (Gary ran his customary Reverse Training Academy, which is about 27 miles). Of special note - apparently having a birthday on MLK Weekend was an incentive to finish both runs: Jesse’s birthday was in the middle of the weekend, and Dave’s was early the following week. Happy birthday, boys! We hope you enjoyed all the presents that the VHTRC and the Massanuttens provided over the course of your two days and 63 miles of running!