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The Bull Run Occoquan Trail meanders through a sea of bluebells.

Mark VanDyke

2022 Report

28th Running

VHTRC Bull Run Run 50 Mile Trail Run

Clifton, VA

Saturday, April 9, 2022

187 starters, 149 finishers

80% finishing rate


The men’s 2022 Bull Run Run podium
The men’s 2022 Bull Run Run podium. Dan Fogg (3rd, 7:50:05), John Dennis (1st, 6:55:23), Jim Blandford (2nd, 7:36:39).
Women's winner, Amanda Podczerwinski
Women’s winner, Amanda Podczerwinski (8:46:07), made it look easy.

And, after a three year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, we are BACK! The Bull Run Run 50 Miler returned on Saturday April 9, 2022, having last been held in 2019. Our 2020 race had to be canceled as the world came to an end little more than three weeks prior to the race. The 2021 race had the high honor and privilege of being canceled twice; the standard second weekend in April race date was a no-go very early on, and then yet another wave of COVID snuffed out the October 2021 planned make up date. So after all that, it was great to finally get our race on among the bluebells on the Bull Run-Occoquan Trail.

The Bull Run Marina crew, under the direction of Carrie Drummond and Eric McGlinchey, has the longest “work day” at the BRR, as this two-way aid station see runners over nearly 9 hours.

In the buildup to the 2022 race, a total of 361 signed up, with 250 direct entrants by the time initial registration closed in late December. What became a lengthy waitlist then developed. The length of that waitlist may have been its own undoing, as by the time the final days leading up to the race arrived, few who were on the waitlist opted to join the field. A whopping 49 DNS’s on race morning saw 187 ultimately toe the starting line.

Race Day was going to be a wonderful day regardless of weather conditions. It was just great to be back to racing the Bull Run Run! Persistent and frequently drenching rains in the week leading up to the race made clear that mud would be the watchword for the runners in 2022. During course marking, a check of the famed “Bluebell Loop” found it to be a sweet combination of lagoon and deep mud conditions on Friday morning, so it took about a five minute slid-and-slide recon walk up the BROT by your race RDs before the inevitable decision was made to remove those trails from the course. We shifted to our Plan B: the High Water course. While this change removed the largest stands of bluebells from the course, the race’s trademark flowers were still numerous all along Bull Run and they were at their peak.

Wolf Run Shoals Aid Station
Alex Papadopoulos knows how to make aid station volunteering as fun as possible! His Wolf Run Shoals group has an annual theme. For 2022 it was the Chippendale Chipmunks.

The forecast for race weekend itself was literally all over the place. The Capital Weather Gang proved to be the most accurate, as they warned on Friday that the pre-race hours might include not just rain, but “robust rain.” A heavy thunderstorm indeed rumbled through overnight, but fortunately it was gone by the time the early parking volunteers appeared on the scene at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park. The forecast for Saturday called for cloudy and cool conditions. It did remain cool, with temps largely in the 50s, but much of the day was punctuated by bright sunshine.

Ultimately, the weather was pretty great for running and the mud wasn’t that bad. Several veterans of the infamous mud slick conditions of the 2019 race noted the same as they ran through the revived Centreville aid stations I and II during the early miles on the northern end of the course. And the runners’ legs and the running times did indicate that the going was not nearly as challenging as it had been when the race was last held. Much of the southern end of the course proved to be quite nice, in fact, with a spongy surface that made for some fun times on those trails.

The opening shift of volunteers for the always active and pivotal Fountainhead Aid Station.

The race kicked off precisely at 6:30 AM, and in the early stages both the men’s and the women’s competitions were highly competitive. Defending champion Jim Blandford led the field after the prelude section through the parking lot. This short stretch on roads allows the field to sort itself out prior to hitting the single track trail sections. By the time the runners rolled up those slick steps to the Centreville aid station 8 miles into the run, the ultimate winners on this day, John Dennis from Silver Spring, MD, and Amanda Podczerwinski from nearby Lorton, VA, had settled into what were lead duos, as each had a companion. Within a couple of minutes additional competitors in both fields were scampering up those steps to reach the aid station. So both the men’s and women’s races had exciting starts!

Just over halfway through the race the runners reach the southern end of the BROT and the first of two visits to the Fountainhead aid station. At this point, John Dennis had a solid 12 minute lead on his two closest pursuers, Jim Blandford (Hamburg, PA) and Thomas McPhaul (Baltimore, MD), with Dan Fogg (Washington, DC) another five minutes back. John had run a tidy 3:31 over those 26.4 miles of rolling and sometimes muddy trails. Take a moment to let that pace sink in a bit!

The Do Loop aid station volunteers for 2022, with a splash of visiting members of the Nash Rambler Decorating Committee.

6.5 miles later the runners had traversed the infamous “Do Loop” that marks the southern end of the course, and were now headed back towards the finish. Dennis was through this section in just a hair over an hour, and by then had opened up an 18 minute lead on Blandford, a 27 minute lead on McPhaul and Fogg was 29 minutes back.

Amanda Podczerwinski arrived at Fountainhead in the equally impressive time of 4:24; Jennifer Mullen from New Market, MD, was just about a minute behind. The next three women were still in relatively close contact: Melissa Mørland (Bel Air, MD); Meagan Denman (Troy, VA); and Amy Stulman (Falls Church, VA), with a little under half the race left to be run. By the time the lead women were making their way back from the Do Loop II aid station, Podczerwinski now had a three minute lead over Mullen, with Denman another 13 minutes back and Stulman now off the pace by about a half hour.

John Dennis went on to take the win with a sparkling time of 6:55:23. This was the first time that John had run the Bull Run Run 50 — and we look forward to seeing if he can keep his winning ways going in the years to come! He indicated that he had stopped regular trail racing with the birth of his first son eight years ago; now that his kids are eight, seven and five years of age, he is hoping to find the time to return to more frequent racing. This includes some unfinished business at the VHTRC’s Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 miler next month.

Jim Blandford held on for second with a time of 7:36, followed by Dan Fogg at 7:50, a fast-closing Trevor Baine (VHTRC club treasurer, from Washington, D.C.), Thomas McPhaul just under 7:58, and the final runner under 8 hours was the sixth place Brendan McHale of Philadelphia, who came in just over 7:59.

The women’s race was taken by Amanda Podczerwinski. Not only was this her first Bull Run Run 50 Miler, and her first 50 mile race, this turns out to have been her first ultra! The universal observation as she eased over the finish line at Hemlock in a time of 8:46:07 is that she looked as though she had just completed an easy training run rather than her first competitive ultramarathon. We hope to see more of Amanda at future trail races in the area!

Jennifer Mullen remained steady in her race through to the end, finishing in second place, 12 minutes behind our winner, in a time of exactly 8:58. Four additional women came in with times under 10 hours on this day: Meagan Denman was third in 9:28; Amy Stulman was next in 9:31; followed by Melissa Mørland (9:51), and Becca Weast of Charlottesville, VA, who was the only runner in this top six with previous Bull Run Run finishes (this being her third). Of note was Melissa’s finish, as she took a hard fall on the trail just short of the final aid station at the Bull Run Marina, and arrived at the finish with an ice pack taped around her wrist, and fears of a possible fracture. Fortunately, word arrived later that after a formal checkup, she was diagnosed with a badly bruised wrist and then a couple of jammed fingers to add additional injury to her injury.

Other results of note on this day: the headline has to be the 25th finish of the Bull Run Run (in this, its 28th year of existence) by Dave Janosko of Mentor in Ohio. Dave had a great day to gain this noteworthy finish in high style, finishing in 12:29:59. Fellow 24 time finisher Tim Stanley was a very late scratch due to illness, but we expect to see him back in 2023 to gain that 25th finish! Hopefully Dave will also be back to see that Tim gets that milestone finish.

This was the race’s first year without the runners participating at members of armies for the North and the South. We did continue to have the standard age group division awards, however, and congratulations to the following winners:

  • Open Female - Jennifer Mullen
  • Open Male - Dan Fogg
  • Master Female - Melissa Mørland
  • Master Male - Trevor Baine
  • Senior Female - Elisa Edgar
  • Senior Male - Jim Blandford
  • Super Senior Female - LuAnn Goldfarb
  • Super Senior Male - Jeff Reed

Note: Jeff Reed may also be due some recognition for the largest time gap between races at the Bull Run Run. He has been a long-time dedicated volunteer, often as an aid station captain, over the years. Prior to deciding to lace them back up for the 2022 race, Jeff last ran the BRR in 2004!

Thanks to club webmaster Keith Knipling, there is a very user-friendly database interface that allows for searches of all of the 2,943 runners who have put in a total of 6,433 finishes of the 50 miler over the years.

This year’s race saw an 80% finishing rate among the individual runners. The 2022 BRR team competition saw a somewhat higher attrition rate, as only 4 of the 10 teams survived on this day to see all team members through to the finish line under the 13 hour cutoff. The ironically named “Illusions of Greatness” was the fastest male team, squeezing out a victory possibly due in part to having the overall first and second place men among its members. Well done, Illusions of Greatness: John Dennis, Jim Blandford, Andrew Ringlee and Justin Langston. The very entertainingly named “Herdles of Turtles Doing Wordles” managed to look up from their phones and away from Wordle long enough to finish as the first Co-Rec team: Zach Zander, Melissa Mørland, David Wood and David McGarvey.

Team Mud Sluts
Three of the four members of the fastest female team on this day. The “Mud Sluts” pictured are Kari Brown, Gaynor Bourgeois and Dawn Gray, with Jill Diss MIA.

Fastest female team were the clearly well prepared “Mud Sluts” who all persevered through to the end to gain their finishes and the team win. With a total of 32 BRR finishes behind the collective lot of them, your Mud Sluts were: Gaynor Bourgeois, Kari Brown, Jill Jacob Diss and Dawn Gray. The fourth and final team took the win in the “Slowest” category. All four of these teams were way too young to qualify for the fifth award, which remained vacant - the Oldest team. The “Vienna Trail Monkeys” (presumably from Fairfax County in Virginia and not from central Austria) were composed of: Joel Hutchison, Lance Walker, Dan Oakes and Robert Weedman.

The members of all four teams came away with the highly-prized BRR fleece blanket; or, more accurately put, they will eventually come away with the blanket. The men’s and women’s awards occurred during formal award ceremonies on race day, whereas the other two teams were deprived of their moment in that spotlight in part by the slow response of the RDs, and in part due to the final member of each coming in to the finish in the final quarter hour of the race. Our profound apologies to those Herdles of Turtles and the Trail Monkeys - you blankets will soon be in the mail!

The Bull Run Run Unicorn dancing at the finish line
The Bull Run Run Unicorn dancing at the finish line.

With this 28th running of the Bull Run Run now behind us, we hope that runners throughout the region and the country will pencil in April 15, 2023 on their race calendars, so that all can join us for the 29th BRR.

If you have any photos, stories, or reports you would like shared please email Keith Knipling.

Happy Trails!


Last updated April 14, 2022