Fairfax Cross County 40 Miler Fat Ass
March 10, 2002

By Jaret Seiberg

Eleven Happy Trails members were among the 24 runners who completed the second annual Fairfax Cross County 40 Miler on March 10.

Everyone also had to have had a great time at this event, which had only three finishers its first year. This year 39 of us did at least some of the trail, with the majority of those going less than the full 40 miles dropping out at mile 36.7 where the cars were parked.

Results are at http://home.cox.rr.com/jcoogan/cct/.

Seth Mosier finished first in 6:50:00. Top VHTRC member was John Hayward, whose fourth place finish was pretty impressive given that he got seriously lost and ended up running with myself and Kerry Owens until mile 32. Top female finisher was Susan Baehre, also a VHTRC member.

The other VHTRC members to finish were Michael Bur, Jaret Seiberg (that's me), Kerry Owens, Nick Satriano, Bill Turrentine, Victoria Kendall, Farouk Elkassed, Caroline Leean-Stearns, and Noelle Olson.

The course follows the Fairfax Cross County trail, which essentially is a combination of existing trails that get a runner from the southern part of the county to the Potomac River in the north. Surfaces vary from dirt to paved trails to neighborhood streets. I'd estimate about half the course qualifies as trail running.

The start was just off Rolling Road on WadeBrook Terrace. This was not a conventional start. Race director John Coogan, who ran the course and finished sixth, had encouraged those who might not finish while the sun was still up to leave early and apparently more than a dozen took him up on that offer, some leaving as much as an hour before the 8 a.m. start and others just a few minutes early.

When the main pack finally left, we ran along the Pohick Creek for several miles before detouring through a neighborhood to reach the Accotink trail. For the next 25 miles or so I was pretty much with the same group, including Happy Trails members Kerry Owens, John Haywood, Amy Bloom, and Steve Platt.

We enjoyed an aid station at Wakefield Park where a large chunk of the pack had reassembled. This meant we all arrived at the first major river crossing together. There was not way to stay dry, unless you were Amy Bloom who got Steve Platt to carry her across the creek.

The trail switched to pavement and we left the beltway to head west into Fairfax. Around Chain Bridge road, the group I was with split. Michael Bur and Kerry Owens were going straight while Steve Platt, Phil Pommerering and James Kotwicki went right. Amy Bloom and I followed the larger pack, assuming they better understood the directions at this point.

In fact, Phil understood the directions so well that he was able to replace a road section with a trail section that include three storm drain crossings. The down side was wet shoes, but we eliminated a boring stretch through a neighborhood for some dirt. We got to the Oak Mar aid station about one minute behind Bur and Owens, so the distances had to be about the same. Perhaps the course should be permanently rerouted this way?

At this point we transferred into the Difficult Run stream valley, which we followed off-and-on all the way to Great Falls park. Much of this section was on dirt trails paralleling the stream. We did detour out of the stream valley several times to stay on the Cross County Trail. This included cutting through a subdivision to reach the Glade Road aid station.

By this point, our pack had splintered. It was just myself, John, and Kerry. John only was with us because we had the directions and the map. We got let him go at this point by giving him the map while we kept the directions. He sprinted off, making up an amazing amount of time.

After a short stint on the WO&D trail, Kerry and I were back in Difficult Run. We passed through the final aid station, located at Colvin Run Road and Leesburg Pike, before entering a four mile stretch to the Difficult Run parking lot off Georgetown Pike.

We caught up to Steve Platt and Amy Bloom at this point. Steve once again carried Amy across the river, ensuring her feet remained dry. For some reason, he ignored pleas for similar service from Kerry and me.

Several folks ended the run here because this is where we left the cars. Great Falls Park does not open early enough to use its parking lot, even though that is where the run ends. Steve and Amy were kind enough to transport my dry bag to end as Kerry and I pushed on for the final 3 miles to the visitor's center.

After a big climb and ensuing downhill, pizza and a small group of runner's awaited us as we finished in 7:37.

Though not a convention run, the Fairfax 40 Miler was a blast and I hope it becomes a long-standing tradition. It is very low-key, though organized enough so you can comfortably complete the course only having to carry a water bottle. Having to use the maps and directions to navigate adds an extra element of quirkiness to the event.

Hope to see you all out there next year.

Happy Trails,
Jaret Seiberg

Virginia Happy Trails Running Club
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