Vicki's Death March

Essential Info

It is that time of year again — the holiday season is approaching, and that must mean time for Vicki's Death March! Otherwise known as the Shenandoah National Park's Greatest Hits run…

Vicki Kendall looks forward to welcoming you all to the 11th annual running of Vicki’s Death March. This year it will be the day after Thanksgiving, November 28th. Black Friday shopping or Shenandoah National Park — you decide.

We meet at the main Old Rag mountain parking lot on Route 600 near the hamlet of Nethers (location of the start). The start time will be 7:30 AM sharp. The run is a tad over 25 miles, covering some of the more scenic sections of Shenandoah National Park — certainly some of its more popular trails.

Route details

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GPS track of Vicki's Death March.

For those not familiar with this course, it is special and you should plan to join us. We will go by Old Rag (climbing Old Rag is optional — hell, all of this is optional); head up White Oak Canyon and its spectacular series of waterfalls; hike up Hawksbill to the highest point in the Park for a 360 degree view; then run north on the Appalachian Trail to Skyland, Stony Man and Little Stony Man, before finishing up with some easy miles down to the infamous Corbin Cabin and along the Hughes River in Nicholson Hollow area to return to the starting point. Vicki's Death March is a veritable “best of” Shenenadoah National Park.

Altitude profile

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Vicki's Death March altitude profile

Vicki's Death March altitude profile. 25.3 miles long with 5,800 feet of ascent.

Vicki's Death March: aid stations and landmarks
Aid station/landmarkDistance (mi)Elevation (ft)
Old Rag Parking Lot0.0780
Hawksbill Summit10.84,050
Aid: Skyland15.63,700
Stony Man Summit16.54,010
Old Rag Parking Lot25.3780

Most runners are able to do this run in 6–7 hours (add a solid hour if you do the “Keith Knipling variation” and hike up and over Old Rag at the beginning). Most of the climbing is in the first half, and most of the easier running occurs after scaling Hawksbill. There are several options to cut the run short — and there are options to lengthen the run as well, particularly by doing the Keith version of the VDM. Traditionally runners stay somewhat together through the early climbing, forming back up at major trail junctions — particularly through Skyland and Stony Man. But there are usually a wide range of speeds amongst the Death March participants, so you should be able to hook on to a fast, moderate, or slower-paced group to fit your needs.

Bring cash for the parking at Old Rag (likely $8.00 if you don’t have a National Park pass) and for “snickety snacks” at Skyland. This is the last weekend of the year that Skyland is open with its soda machines, coffee shop, and bathrooms. In years past, there have been aid stations at either end of the Appalachian Trail section of the course. But in 2013 we didn't have the aid due to icy road conditions on Skyline Drive. Since everyone survived the run without them, we have decided to forego the aid stations, so plan on aid ONLY by visiting Skyland. Don't forget to carry cash for snacks!


Griffin Tavern

The run is only the first part of the fun. You will want to also set time aside after for the equally traditional post-run sojourn into the village of Flint Hill (which is located on Route 522, on the way back to the D.C area) for lunch at the Griffin Tavern. Comfortable atmosphere, good food, good beer — plan to join Vicki for lunch there after the run! She particularly recommends the burgers and fries, and the Starr Hill Pale Ale from Charlottesville… last year, of the 30 runners we had over 20 diners take over the bar tables at the Griffin Tavern.

Let us know you're coming

RSVP’s are helpful. Shoot Quatro a note to get on the list. But if you get a wild hair at the last minute and decide to come out, then feel free to do so. is your contact link.

Hope that many of you will be able to come out on Black Friday for Vicki’s Death March — be sure to bring your map and turnsheet!

Reports from prior events

Other resources

Ted Bielawa was out there in November 2009 and took some great photos.

Maps are available from the Shenandoah National Park website: Old Rag, Hawksbill, and Skyland.

Last modified: Feb 20, 2014