The Waterfall 50k - Day 2 of the two-day traditional kick-off to the MMT 100 winter training season - was held as scheduled on Sunday January 20, 2019. Day 1 is traditionally the first MMT Training Academy run. This year that event was postponed a week, due to an ominous weather forecast that made it look likely that runners and volunteers alike would stuck in the mountains in either a snow or ice storm, or both.
Final results for the 4th annual Waterfall 50km, held on a gloriously sunny day on Sunday January 20, 2019. [insert note about how bloody cold it was in the wind, and how wet and icy much of the course was here …]
Before going ANY further, we have to start with a HUGE thank you(!!) to the die-hard cadre of fantastic volunteers who came out on a day that, while challenging for the runners, was bloody cold as all get out for those standing around. Kevin Bligan, Guy Towler, Charlene Howard, Sarah Curtis, Jesse Fuller, Steve Yurek, Derek Kennedy, Ben Tidwell, Rob Tidwell - and did I mention Kevin Bligan?! Thanks to you all.
Dan Fogg is the 2019 Waterfall 50k champeen! And congrats also to Adam Watkins, who is the 2019 King of Waterfall, as the first finishing runner to the top of the opening 5k climb. Kelly MacDonald is the 2019 Waterfall 50k women’s champeen, and Kelly was also Queen of the Waterfall (first woman to the top of Waterfall at the end of the initial 5k of the run)! Congratulations, Kelly! But, wait - with Kelly, there is more! Kelly is now the Three Time WTF50k women’s champeen, Three Time WTF5k Queen, and still the only woman to finish this course in under 7 hours (which she has now done in consecutive years of 2018 and 2019). All right, that’s probably enough Kelly for now - she is very modest, so she is likely embarrassed at this much attention as it is.
Your podium peoples for the WTF50k:
- For the men: Dan Fogg, Adam Watkins and a hard-charging Ryan Quinnelly.
- For the ladies: Kelly MacDonald, Emily Warner, and Becky McGraw.
Well done not only to the exemplary runners above who are now stepping down from that podium. But a hearty clap on the back to all who showed to run on a day that was forecast to be less-than-ideal: temps falling from an early morning high around freezing into the low 20s, with winds from a polar vortex whipping in by mid-morning and dropping the wind chill to … well, dropping it considerably. This was most felt in the latter stages of the run for those hardy souls (and soles) that made their way up to Bird Knob after the final aid station at the Massanutten Visitor Center. The VC is the Moment of Truth for the WTF runners: do you want to just jet down a less than three mile downhill trail back to an early finish and a spot by the warm campfire, or do you scale the heights of Bird Knob and the Purple Trail and complete the thing you set out to do.
This year, despite that wind and cold, and very wet, slushy, muddy and at times icy trail conditions, and despite word at the pre-race briefing by the 211 Gate that someone(?!) had neglected to bring the finishers’ stickers to the run that day, a remarkable 62.5% of the starting field of 48 runners got their finish (i.e. 30 of those runners). Only 2017 - the year of the sticker’s debut, mind you - had a higher finishing rate (67%). These, in marked contrast to the inaugural Waterfall year of 2016 (aka the No Sticker Year), which sported a pathetic finishing percentage of less than 25%. Clear evidence that the trail running community is made up children who come solely for the free toy at the end (“I want my WTF sticker!!”). But to their credit they are tough children!
Becky McGraw's report.