By Chris Scott
Editor's Note: This is the report on the 2005 Bull Run Run as Chris Scott sent it to Utrarunning Magazine. The major changes that UR made to the article are noted below. Not all changes are noted. UR did not publish the pictures of Annette Bednosky or Scott Mills. The article ran on page 34.
Can you see the combatants lined up, some mentally focused on the battle ahead, others anxious about what the day may bring? Can you picture the dawn, sky turning silky gray, the frontline combatants gazing toward the distance, those behind just wanting to fall in step and get on with the fight? Can you feel the palpable tension in the cool, quiet morning air, the battle about to begin, the rush of bodies seeking unknown trials somewhere amidst the still-leafless trees and beyond the next hill? The battle lines have been drawn, the legs twitch to engage the enemy, the heart beats audibly in anticipation, and the support squads stand ready to keep the troops well fed and stocked.
The reality of Bull Run's [UR made this "Bull Run Run," changing the meaning.] true bloody history isn't just today's ultrarunning analogy, but this year's BRR Combatants once again honored themselves with their valiant efforts on the trails. Almost 90% of the starting field finished on an arguably tougher and longer course, made possible in part by the exceptional aid stations that have become a VHTRC signature, the attention to trail details that strives to keep runners on course, and, not least of which, the enticed motivation to earn the coveted finisher's reward.
Preceding weeks' and days' rains required a new course, and left much of the flatter trails layered with slippery mud. A "muddiest legs contest" at the end would have left only a handful of runners not included in the competition. Plus, some flatter trails were replaced by rolling, less-defined trails, complicating the combatants' attempts to find a comfortable, consistent pace. But race day yielded clear skies and mild temperatures, only at midday creating momentary concern for heat. The stage was set for a memorable struggle with the elements.
Annette Bednosky clipped seven minutes off the previous women's record, throughout the day continuing to extend her lead over her closest rivals, Bethany Patterson and Francesca Conte, the pair spending most of the last 20 miles running together. In that regard, their methodical persistence was just as evident back in the pack, as runners navigated over countless hills and through well-stocked aid stations towards the Finish and their well-earned, logo-stitched gym bags.
While the men's race didn't produce a course record, it did have its tension. Leigh Schmitt was running third behind Todd Walker through mile 14 at Hemlock, which also serves as the Start and Finish. Here, Todd grabbed a bonus three-quarter mile by circling the parking area, as the runners had done at the Start to spread the field out. Blitzing through the aid station that fateful third time, Todd proceeded to hunt down Leigh, gaining a couple minutes until the final miles when Leigh distanced himself further from Todd's pursuit. As Leigh quipped with Todd in their handshake at the finish, those lost six minutes at Hemlock still wouldn't recover the seven minutes that separated them at the end.
[UR eliminated this paragraph:] Sophie Speidel won the Women's Masters division, just edging Kim Martin by a paltry two minutes. Two minutes is as good as ten when competitors can't see each other among the trees, so only they can speak to any anxiety over gaining or losing position. In the Men's Masters division, after running almost within eyesight of each other through 35 miles, Derrick Carr and former BRR winners Barry Lewis and Tom Nielsen joined ranks to eat up the final 15 miles as leaders of that pack.
The Senior Men's division pitted two Scotts McKenzie and Mills, BRR's Race Director for the First Campaign in a tight battle. McK knew he was only slightly in front of M they saw each other at the turn-around at 8 miles and each battled to retain and capture ground for those long 42 remaining miles. Of course, it didn't hurt to entice each with slightly altered hints of how close the other one was!!
Bull Run Run rewards its combatants in both North and South divisions, staying true to the original battle lines. We also reward teams, this year 23 squads came to battle in Men's, Mixed and Women's divisions. The Happy Tails SSBDT team of Scott Mills, Derrick Carr, Barry Lewis, Scott McKenzie and Tom Nielsen not a slouch among 'em took the Men's title in 39:09 combined time. The Twisted Sisters of Jill Quivey, Mel Saraniero, Joni Fontana, Gaynor Bourgeois and Francesca Conte took the Women's title in 54:37. And Team Tuscarora Joe Clapper, Bethany Patterson, Jim Campifornio, Ryan Henry and Carl Laniak squeaked into first in the Mixed division with 44:04.
The real spirit and vitality of Bull Run Run, like many of its ultra cousins, draw [UR says, "draws."]from its dedicated VHTRC members and volunteers who return every year to support, and in their own way, entertain runners in search of the Finish Line. [UR eliminated the following:] The VHTRC has no parallel come experience one of its flagship events (BRR 50, MMT 100, Women's Half Marathon) and see for yourself Until we see you at the Start on April 8th, 2006 Happy Trails!!