Battle Report
Bull Run Run 50 Miler

April 12, 2008

This page has the results and information from the 2008 Bull Run Run 50 Miler. We expect new items over the next week so come back again.

If you have a comment about the run, you may send an e-mail to the Race Director, Bob Phillips at If you have something (pictures or reports) that you think should be linked from this page, e-mail Anstr at

BRR Winners with RD
Female winner and new course record holder Anne Riddle Lundblad, RD Bob Phillips, and male winner Mark Lundblad

Initial Report

by Anstr Davidson

It was a family affair at the 16th Bull Run Run 50 miler. The Lundblad's, Anne and Mark, took the top honors and half of the top four places. While each led from at least the upstream turnaround, each did get some pressure. At the turnaround, about 9.4 miles into the run, Anne looked good, but Justine Morrison arrived within a minute after her. Justine kept close for awhile longer but faded. Michele Harmon passed Justine for second, but Anne's lead was assured. In the women's field, the 40 year olds, Anne and Michele, bested the twenty and thirty somethings (Justine and Amy Sproston).

Anne's performance is both a course and event record. Mark's time was not a record, but he, like everyone but Anne seemed to feel the effects of the slow course.

The starting field had 310 runners of whom 265 finished. There seemed to be a relatively high attrition rate for this battle.

Like most trail ultras, weather is an important factor at the Bull Run Run but in a different way. Given the time of the event, brutal, hot weather is unlikely. But unseasonably warm weather, just as bad for runners not acclimated to heat, is common. Additionally, wet weather provides extra challenge on this course.

The temperatures seemed fine to those of us just sitting around. But it got pretty warm and even a bit humid for the runners. It was particularly hard on the Blue forces from the North. Some of them came from Cleveland for goodness sakes! Of course the Gray forces weren't much better off. BRR this year was on the first warm day of the year. Much as they suffered, however, the runners did not appear much more wasted than normal at the end.

Wet was another story. Rain can make the Bull Run rise and create a lot of mud. We didn't get much rain so the stream did not rise. We did get some mud. BRR newbies might think it was muddy. But compared to two years ago, it was the Mojave Desert. The upstream two miles of the course actually held up well. Only a few parts would require a runner to slow to a walk. But the mud was enough to slow people down. So all in all, it wasn't a bad weather day.

As usual, the success of the event depended upon the work of many volunteers. To thank any by name would be to leave out others. Probably no one knows all the volunteers. So many contributed so much in so many different ways. Let's just look at two volunteers, not because they were "best" but because they illustrate the kind of contribution people make.

When you arrived on Saturday morning, it was Bob Gaylord and his crew who got you into the parking lot and created order where there could have been chaos. He was there at 5 am when we got there. When did he get up? I next saw Bob at the finish line toward the end of the day. He had shuttled water (see above re: "unseasonably warm weather") all around the course. He didn't get to goof off and b.s. with people. He worked all day.

Then there is Dave Quivey. He picked up a bouncing ball and ran with it. For years, like many events, BRR had pizza at the end. Pizza sounds good, but it's expensive, not everyone likes it, you often get it cold, and if we order too much, we have a lot of cold pieces of cheese-rubber wasted. Enter Dave and his grills.

For less than the cost of the pizza, Dave (with the help of many) put on a great barbecue that included burgers, brats, and even veggie burgers. It was open to all. It was great. It wasn't just Dave's work. It was that Dave saw the need and planned and executed a great success.

To list just these two is, of course, leaving out so many. Think of the aid station captains and their logistical challenges. The course markers who worry, worry, worry, will you get lost? Will someone mess with the markings? Think of the radio people. Think of the people still at Hemlock as the sunset who had to clean up the entire mess. Finally, think of Derrick and Jane Carr. They were everywhere.

The RD, Bob Phillips, works too, of course. But unlike the other volunteers, his work has no end. The run dominates his life. This year, because of Bob's work schedule, Bob had to sacrifice a great deal of his personal life for the event.

To Bob and his entire crew, thank you for a job very well done.

While there are many newbies each year, there are the usual suspects who show up and add so much to the tradition of the event. Most notable in this regard are the four who have finished all 16 BRRs. Even though they are all getting older, all but one broke 10 hours. Last year, Frank Probst, the oldest of the four, was the first of the four to finish last year. Tim Stanley, the usual winner was out for revenge. At the turnaround, Frank was in the lead. But it wasn't "Frank weather." (Frank weather is defined as weather below 50 degrees.) So Tim beat Frank by under eight minutes. Mike Talbert finished about 10 more minutes back in 9:55.

The fourth of this contingent, Tom Green, was out there awhile longer. Tom, a legend of trail running and the first to do the "Slam," finished in 12:52. Tom is starting to create excitement by flirting with the continuation of his two famous strings -- having finished all Mountain Masochists and all Bull Run Run's.

Meanwhile, Harry Smith crossed the finish line for the 15th time. Actually, he has crossed the starting line 16 times.

On the female side of the longevity list, Marcia Peters is now all alone with 11 finishes. The "most BRR finishes by a woman" designation, by tradition, must go to a Pennsylvanian. For many years, the designation belonged to Dale Weitzel. Two years ago, Marcia joined Dale as a ten time finisher. Now Marcia is all by herself. In the process, she won her age group.

The Other Stories
There are many stories around an event of the scope of the Bull Run Run. We will leave the telling of those events to those who experienced them. We will just add that the 2008 BRR did not seem to be of "diminishing quality."

Female Course Record

Anne Riddle Lundblad set a new course record. Here is the updated list of the top 10 all time female performances.

BRR Top 10 Females - All Time
Riddle Lundblad, Anne 20087:31:17
Bednosky, Annette20057:40:32
Sproston, Amy20077:43:48
Cosgrove, Christy20007:47:35
Kavanagh, Maureen20047:48:17
Morrison, Justine20077:48:47
Harmon, Michele20037:48:50
Fenstermacher, Courtney20037:51:20
Patterson, Bethany20077:54:15
Berner, Debbie19997:59:22

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Bull Run Wildflower Report

by Gary Knipling

I never like to get "spooked" by the weather when planning an outdoor activity. I've found that rarely is any forecasted inclement weather as bad as it is supposed to be. So it was with the 16th running of the Bull Run Run 50 Miler.

The buzz Friday afternoon was when would the heavy rain and wind start on race day, and how muddy and slippery would the trail become? I believe the slightly elevated temperature and humidity on Saturday was only a reminder that summer is around the corner, and we got just a slight taste.

For the repeat runners at the BRR starting line, comprising 60% of the field, seeing the beautiful bluebells along the river has become a rite of spring in Northern Virginia. Mother Nature didn't disappoint this year with either the bluebells or other spring wildflowers.

There were other "gifts of the trail" that shared our space during the course of our trek. Gary Meier from New York told me he saw a green snake coiled peacefully along the trail near Wolf Run. There was a reported sighting of a copperhead that was safely coaxed off the trail by a chivalrous fellow runner "saving" two of our damsel runners. I saw a garter snake happily cross the trail just after Fountainhead II. I also saw a dead young ~8" garter snake that had inadvertently (?) been stepped on in the middle of the trail earlier.

In listing the wildflowers I saw along the course in '08, two deserve special comments:

trout lillies
Trout Lilly
Anstr had seen and photographed some dainty trout lilies as he marked the north portion of the course on the sunny Friday afternoon. I was looking for them at the spot he told me about on the overcast Saturday morning – I didn't see them. I believe they just decided to stay closed up because of the overcast sleepy morning.

About every third year I see patches of the elusive blue/lavender round-lobed hepatica, a fairly rare spring wildflower. I saw just two of them near a stream crossing south of Bull Run Marina as I headed to Fountainhead I. I was able to share them with a group of runners I was with on the return trip including three of my teammates: Vicki Kendall, Sharon Lapkof & Carole Smith.

The wildflowers that I or others observed along the course of BRR '08 were as follows:

  • Virginia Bluebells – blue and at peak; the trademark flower of BRR only seen near the floodplain along the creeks/river
  • Spring Beauties – five white petals with pink veins; sometimes forming dense ground covering; common
  • Rue Anemone – 6-10 white petals and shamrock-shaped leaves; northern loop and white loop near Fountainhead
  • Cut-leaved Toothwort – 4 white drooping petals; bird foot leaves; common
  • Violets – blue/lavender/yellow; common in small clumps
  • Bloodroot – single large white flower with butterfly-shaped leaf around stem; a few spotted on the northern loop
  • Early Saxifrage – small white 5-petaled flowers at end of hairy stem; growing in shale and rocky habitat; common
  • Star Chickweed – 10 small white petals forming flower ½" diameter; woodlands
  • Bluets – small blue flowers with yellow centers growing in small clusters; soccer fields
  • Periwinkle – 5 deep blue petals shaped like a propeller; at base of climb near wood steps coming up to Hemlock
  • Purple Dead Nettle – brownish/purple low growing flowers in mats; at parking lot at Rt 28
  • Gill-over–the Ground – tiny blue flowers with shell-shaped leaves; in Fountainhead clearing and Rt 28 parking lot aid station
  • Hairy Bittercress – small white flowers at end of 6" stem; common
  • Trout Lily – beautiful drooping yellow flowers with mottled leaves forming dense mats; Anstr saw near stream crossing on northern loop Friday
  • Hepatica
    Photo: Chris Dixon on March 29, 2005 in the Botanical Gardens of the University of Vienna, Austria
    Hepatica – 6-9 lavender petals with 3-lobed basal liver-colored leaves; a treat to see

Race Director Bob Phillips kept the fine tradition of Bull Run Run going strong in his second tenure. He amassed the greatest number of volunteers than I can recall. They were each very important to keep the runners hydrated, nourished and focused enough to find the finish line. And at that finish line, the music and barbeque and festivity were very special this year. The Bur–Quivey show was a continuation of a party – a wildflower garden party.

I'm already looking forward to the ritual of spring for 2009. Until then, Happy Trails.

Gary (#182)

Virginia Happy Trails Running Club
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