Joe Clapper's Run on the Tuscarora Trail
Joe Clapper Finishes the Tusrarora Trail: At 4:35 AM on Monday, March 13 in the cold and dark, Joe crested the long climb up Overall Run and reached the Appalachian Trail and completed his journey. He had done 252 very tough miles in less than four days. The Tuscarora is gratuitiously hard, rocky, poorly marked, and isolated. The weather sucked with rain, storms, and on the last night, bitter cold. And Joe actually ran far longer than 252 miles as he got lost on several occasions.
Many friends helped Joe by crewing for him and runnning (and walking) with him. On the final ascent, three people accompanied him to the top. While the help of all of these people was instrumental to Joe's success, it was his positive attitude that got him through. I saw him at Elizabeth Furnace and went with him to the Veach Gap Trailhead. He had last slept two nights before. He wasn't going fast, but he was moving, alert, and upbeat. He was truly amazing.
Here is some information on Joe's run:
Report from Emily Richardson
After two years of talking to Joe, who works with my husband, I finally got a great wet hug at Lynn's. We had gone out to meet Roger and Joe on our horses but alas, that Blue Trail helped them get lost again. I had to ride back to Lynn's so only had a moment before leaving. While waiting for Joe I met some of Joe's team, Roger and Ed. You all are to be congratulated.
Joe's unfailing good spirits, positive attitude, incredible fitness and will to succeed is more than impressive; it's an inspiration to us all to be and do our personal best.
Report from Lynn Golemon
My impressions about a tiny section of the trail:
Helping Joe was a very upbeat experience, I'm so glad I was able to participate in our neck of the woods, and I wish I could have done more.
Joe was so positive and pleasant! I am not sure what I was expecting, but if it had been me, I know I would have whined at least a little. I never heard him say an unpleasant thing the entire time we were together, which was for about 15 trail miles. I met Joe and Roger as they ran down North Mountain near Lucas Woods in West Virginia some time after noon on Saturday; it was raining; they had been lost. I had never met Joe before, and he stopped to introduce himself. When we got to the bottom of the mountain, Roger got in the car with Ed, so Joe and I, along with my horse, Legacy, were together from that point (through breakfast at our house where he ate about 8 scrambled eggs with cheese and tomatoes, along with toast and fresh orange juice) until we arrived at Route 55 at a little after 6PM in the pouring rain with the temperature dropping rapidly. He always seemed happy and positive.
Just after we climbed back up to the top of North Mountain and were jogging along the spine there was a brief time where we were above the cloud level and it was crystal clear. We could see the tops of the other mountains peaking out from the clouds below, and it was very quiet and still, almost like being in heaven. Then there was lightening and thunder as the dense fog enveloped us and it began pouring rain. We said our good-bye's on the trail so he could begin the next phase by meeting his new crew right away. Shortly after that we arrived at Route 55, where Joe, wet and cold, was met by his crew members.
When horses go down a trail together they usually bond with each other, and when they are separated they call for each other. When I put my horse, Legacy, in his horse trailer, he turned his head around, looked out, and nickered for his buddy, Joe. I found this very touching. He really enjoyed his time on the trail with Joe, just as I did.
Congratulations, Joe, a job beautifully done with dignity and grace!
Lynn Golemon, Yellow Spring, WV
Updates That Were Posted during the Run
Thursday: 6:45 am: Joe should be on his way now, but I don't expect an update here before Thursday evening. Looks like great weather!
Thursday: 10:30 am: Have received two messages form Ed. Joe is doing well. He was 12 miles into the run at 8:30 AM. This is ahead of his schedule, but it's early. Also, Joe was trying to be conservative since no one believes he can do it in four days. I still don't, but we shall see!
Thursday: 1:40 pm: Ed reports that there are some drops of rain and that it is very overcast. Joe and Scotty (who is running with him at this time) reported that the 12.4 mile section ending at PA 233 is the rockiest section of trail they have ever been on--even worse than Short Mountain. The did not have enough fluids and became a bit dehydrated. Ed noted that they had left home at 2:35 am this morning. Finally, he wants me to tell Derrick to bring a change of shoes as it will be very wet tomorrow!
Thursday: 5:40 pm: Ed reported in earlier that Joe had arrived at Cowpens Rd (33.5 miles) at 1:13 PM and left at 1:35. That last message was garbled and I haven't heard anything since. Hope to have more information tonight.
Thursday: 9:00 pm: Joe made it to PA 641 (53.9 miles) at 6:40 PM. That was two minutes over his prediction! The going has been very slow and rocky. Joe did 50 miles in about 12 hours. Not bad when you are going 252 miles! Let's see, ath that rate, he will finish on Saturday night! I don't think so. Scott Mills left for home and Larry DeHof is now with Joe. There was a three mile road section coming up which I am sure Joe was happy about. There are some more road sections and eight miles on the C&O Canal Towpath coming up that will make up for the rocks--somewhat.
Friday: 6:30 AM: Joe is doing well compared to his schedule. He got two miles short of US Route 30 at 2:36 this morning. Larry DeHof and Jeanne Christie were with him. He then slept for about three hours. He started off at 6 am this morning with Derrick Carr accompanying him. There is a short stretch to the next road, PA 16. From that point, he will have been on all of the trail before. Hopefully, this section of trail is in better shape than when we did it about 10 years ago. Then, it was very over grown and we were caught on the mountain without flashlights as the sun set. Without the overgrowth, the trail should be runable and then there are some roads and the C&O Canal section into Hancock up ahead. His big challenge is probably tonight and tomorrow. Today shouldn't be too bad.
Friday: 4:15 PM: Joe crossed the Mason-Dixon line and then crossed the state of Maryland. From now on, the names of all states will end in "Virginia." Ed says he is doing well. The plan when I talked to Ed this morning was to seek a motel in the Gore area for tonight. Joe seems to be a bit behind his schedule but still doing well. In Ed's last call, he said that Joe plans to do one more section and then bag it for the night. Should have more information on here later.
Scott Mills called me this morning to report on yesterday. Scott said (more less), "In 22 years of running on trails, I never been on trails that bad. This is worse than Hardrock or Short Mountain. This is un____ing believeable." Scotty said the rocks were pointed, loose, and difficult to navigate. They fell several times and Scott thought he had broken something for awhile. To add insult to injury, Scott had a flat tire on the way home.
Friday: 9:30 PM: Joe is out of gas!. The group is going to Winchester to a motel for the night, planning to start early in the morning. I have little else to report. Will probably talk to Ed from the motel (on a real phone, I hope! These cell phones suck!) I should know more about timing for the weekend tomorrow morning. Will put the information up here as soon as I receive it.
Saturday: 10:00 AM: Ed reported in at about 6 am this morning. Joe had had a good night's sleep and a shower. He was moving well this morning. At the time I spoke to Ed, Joe was running south on WV 45 toward the VA-WV border. (Joe will go in and out of WV several times on the course.) It was raining. Lynn Golemon will meet Joe later today on a horse and accompany him to Route 55. Ed called again at about 10 AM. Joe continues to do well and is feeling well. It is raining and he is in tights. They took a wrong turn and got a bit behind. Ed is going to Loman Branch to meet him at what is expected to be about 2 PM. Roger Allison is running with Joe now. Carolyn, Jeanne, and Larry are going home. Jim and Rebecca Moore will join them later this afternoon and Jim will go with Joe through the night.
The current plan is to run through the night with only short rest breaks and get to Mauertown tomorrow morning. Later today, I will post more information about places to meet Joe on Sunday. Be aware, however, that the schedule is fluid!
Saturday: 10:00 PM: There was a thunderstorm here when Ed called. Joe had arrived at Route 55 at 6:37 PM. He was cold and changed clothes in Jim's van. Jim is with Joe as he proceeds to Waites Run Road. This trail is not good. There are worse trails, but it's rocky and not well maintained. Joe is approaching the start of the Trail Run Across the Commonwealth (TRAC). That start of that event is at the point where the Tuscarora leaves West Virginia for the last time. From that point, Joe will be in his backyard. Ed said that Joe plans to go all night and would probably make Mauertown by daybreak. But there are a lot of ifs!
I will be going out to the valley tomorrow (Sunday). I will try to up date this page before I leave to facilitate meeting Joe on the last day. Good meeting points would be:
Sunday: 8:30 AM: It was a wild night and our hero apparently got lost. Ed called at about midnight to say that Joe had left Waites Run. Fortunately, Ed's batterie was dead so when Joe and Jim Moore came back because they couldn't find the trailhead, someone was there. This was apparently a bad omen. Joe and Jim did not show up at the next check point, Cedar Creek, until 7:55 this morning. They got real lost! But fortunately, they are found. Joe has pushed on alone and is on the trail to Fetzer's Gap. This is a pretty tough trail section but Joe knows it well. There will be fresh recruits, in the form of Gary Knipling and Noelle Olsen when he gets to Fetzer's.
If you are planning to meet Joe, I suggest that you check back here before going out there. I asked Ed to see what Joe's plans are when he gets to Fetzer's. I will post them here as soon as I get them. If he pushes on, he is doing essentially the first day of the TRAC with Cedar Creek being pretty much the start. Here are some TRAC split times to help you guage. From the low water bridge to the end is the first section of TRAC Day Two. That usually takes most runners about three hours. Dave Drach (a very good runner with a night's sleep) did it in 2:15 one year. This looks to me like Joe is looking at at 10 PM finish at best. Note: Joe just took over three hours to get to Fetzer's Gap.
Sunday: 10:40 AM: Joe made it to Fetzer's Gap at 10:11 AM. It took him over three hours to do it. No one ever did it that slowly in the TRAC. He has a long way to go, but it's a home game now. He won't get lost again! I am leaving to go to the mountains. Don't expect another update to this before the finish. If you want to try to meet Joe, I would not expect him to be at Elizabeth Furnace before 5 or 6--if that. I don't suggest trying to meet him. It's all real iffy!
And the Rest was History! That was my last report. I went out to Edinburg to go to a Forest Service meeting on trail maintenance and then met Joe and the gang at Elizabeth Furnace. I went with Joe from Elizabeth Furnace to the Veach Gap Trailhead. I then drove back home to prepare the web page for his finish. Scott Mills called me at about 7:30 Monday morning to say that Joe had finished.
Splits along the way