Report: The Best Hashawha Hills 50km Trail Run Ever?
On Saturday, February 27, the dawn broke clear, cold, and still. The best weather the Hashawha Hills 50km Trail Run has ever witnessed. The ground, saturated from snow melt and torrential storms only days prior was frozen as runners made their way to the start from the Bear Branch Nature Center.
The Hashawha Hills course is two circuits of a 15.5 mile loop, and under sunny skies the largest starting field we’ve ever had was soon on its way. The frozen ground made for some fast running early on, but it wasn’t long before some of our trademark mud came into play. This is after all, Hashawha Hills, and so we had fantastic trails that were in excellent shape. But we also had some deep mud along with standing water, a little snow and ice and of course that wonderful stream crossing. Not to mention all those hills, from which we get our name.
The Famous Aid Station, encountered by runners 4 times during the race, lived up to its reputation. All our volunteers, manning aid stations, sweeping the course, or working to prepare food and seeing to it that everyone felt welcome, are the fuel that drives this machine year after year. Sometimes it is good to have a friend!
Except for a very brief time Jason Lantz led from start to finish, turning in the fourth fastest finish time ever in 4:07:21. Jason already owns the third fastest finishing time which he ran in 2013.
Sarah Mikalauskas, finishing in 5:03:58, took the female win, turning in the fourth fastest women’s time in race history.
Despite the deep mud, as the sun shone down and the temperatures warmed, the beauty of the course won out, producing our highest finishing rate ever. As they crossed the finish line, all our finishers received our trade mark Hashawha Hills mugs, which are handmade by a local potter. Our male and female winners received pottery crocks, finished to match their mugs.
After finishing the race, everyone enjoyed hot food, cold drinks, and warm companionship in the nature center; sharing stories, swapping lies, and basking in the glow that only comes at the end of a big adventure.
Every year is different. Last year the course was buried under way too much snow. We’ve had the year of black ice, the year of ice and mud, and the year of high winds. Was this the best year ever? They’ve all been unique, and maybe in the end, that’s a good thing. Thanks to all our runners who showed the utmost respect to our venue and to others sharing the park with us. Thanks to our volunteers who made this happen.
What do you get for an entry fee of $19.45? Coffee and cookies during the pre race inside the warm nature center. Aid stations second to none. An easy to follow course of trails, forest roads, open fields, plenty of hills and of course that stream crossing. Split second timing, a hot meal at the finish, and our trademark handmade mugs. This race produced a profit for the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club. Therefore, we’re still not sure runners are getting their money’s worth, and so we will stick with our tradition of lowering the entry fee every year.
On the last Saturday in February 2017, entry into the eighth running of the Hashawha Hills 50km Trail Run will be $19.35.
Race Director, Hashawha Hills 50km Trail Run