Me and Mike: Old Dominion Memorial 50-Miler

By John A. Dodds

I just can't wait anymore. Me and Mike ran this race last May, and I was going to wait until he wrote his report on the Last Great Race before writing this one. Last time I checked (couple months ago), he said he was only 83% complete on his report. Maybe he's got writer's block - like Kerry. Fortunately, the passage of time does not dim my memory. A number of you knew that me and Mike had run a portion of this race together and have asked me if it's really all that bad running with him. I invariably say, no, it's actually worse.

Accommodations. Race headquarters and where most people stay is at the Ramada in Woodstock. I stayed in the Budget Host Motel not too far away. Mike stayed in the Wrangler Inn just outside of town. I knew Mike had signed up for the race, and I wasn't surprised to not see him at the pre-race briefing on Friday night. However, I was surprised to see him at the Ramada just before the race. I hadn't expected him to show up for the race until about an hour or so after race start, but I guess he was turning over a new leaf.

Mike Bur and his fansNot a trail run. This entire course is on a road, pure and simple. A lot of the road is paved; more of it is unpaved. None of it is trail. One couple from Oregon thought the course was going to be single-track trail. I felt sorry for them. Actually, I felt sorry for all of us. The course starts at the Ramada and goes up over Woodstock gap (or whatever it's called) and down into the valley to some turnaround point. Then back up over Woodstock back to the Ramada. Then return to the top of Woodstock again, turning around there to go back to the Ramada. Neither me nor Mike got lost at all.

Race strategy - theory. At the start, we both talked about our strategies, and I was surprised that we both had the same strategy - taking it easy. Mike explained that he was going to push it until he tired and then take it easy - and then repeat this process throughout the race. I explained that I was going to take it easy and then take it easy - and then repeat this process throughout the race. You see, he was getting ready for the Old Dominion 100-miler in two weeks, and my 100-miler (Bighorn) wasn't for awhile. In fact, I was going to use his strategy the next weekend at the Delaware 38-mile run (which would have been 38 miles instead of 34 where I turned back because Carl forgot to leave the aid out at that point).

Race strategy - applied theory. The first part of the race wasn't too bad - until we started the first climb up the Woodstock Road. Mike said he wanted to run the whole thing, and I said no. So we ran until Mike realized from my breathing that I couldn't run much longer, then he would walk. When he sensed that I was able to breathe again, he started to run. And thus up the mountain we went. Of course, I was oblivious to this scheme at the time. Apart from this uphill (from both sides of the mountain), it was fairly easy running so long as you didn't overdo it. As we were running in the valley, I told Mike repeatedly that I wouldn't be able to keep up the pace we were running. Sure, I could last through 20 miles or so, but I had to point out to him that this was a 50-mile race. Then he got defensive. He said that if he left me that I would accuse him of abandoning me, and if he didn't I would blame him for bonking. He said no matter what he did, he couldn't win. I had to agree that he was in a bit of a Catch 22 and that yes, he couldn't win - at least so long as I was writing the report. Anyway, around mile 26, he abandoned me. You can never count on that guy.

Belt. Although it had not quite been a year since I bought him that cool belt for his MMT buckle, the subject of his not paying me yet did come up. While we were running in the valley, he said that he would put the money under one of the windshield wipers on my van after the race. Since we were parked right next to each other in the parking lot, I figured I had about a 5 percent chance of getting my money. I did check later only to find no money. I guess he was in such a hurry to get home that he forgot.

Showers. To make a long story short, we both finished the race and hung out with the other finishers in the parking lot behind the Ramada, sitting in chairs watching the traffic go by on I-81. While we were talking, one of the finishers who was staying at the Ramada offered to let us use his room to take showers. Before I could tell Mike that Kerry didn't like people mooching off shower facilities from other people, Mike said that would be a great idea.. When Mike came back, the guy asked me if I wanted to take a shower. Regrettably, I had to say yes. If I had said no, then that would have made Mike look bad.

Sheetz"The Sheetz experience." After the showers, Mike offered to buy lunch for the shower guy. I thought this was pretty generous on Mike's part and wondered how Mike knew what restaurants were in town. MacDonalds was adjacent to the Ramada, but you don't offer to repay somebody with MacDonalds. Nope, Mike told the guy that he needed "the Sheetz experience" and explained that the deli sandwiches from the gas station were great. So he and the shower guy got into the Wrangler Inn and proceeded to the nearby Sheetz gas station. I know you are going to think this is positively unbelievable, but Mike asked me if I wanted him to buy me a sandwich. I told him I was probably going out to dinner (more about that later), so I declined. Mike actually brought back several sandwiches to share. Let me give credit where credit is due - I did try a couple bites of one of the sandwiches, and they were quite good.

SnickersFistful of Snickers. I wasn't sure the race had the right kind of food to get the 100-mile people through. I've written about this before, but this was the race where I had so kindly offered to get Bill Gentry something from MacDonalds at mile 68. And this is the race where I sat with Tom Green at MacDonalds while he ate dinner when he came through mile 68. At that point, the race certainly had enough junk food, including plenty of candy. In fact, the last time I saw Mike, he was sitting in his Jeep with a handful of king-size Snickers bars he had picked up. Either he was incredibly hungry (hard to believe after the size of the sub he ate) or else he was stocking up on candy for Halloween.

Girls from Jersey. There were several women from New Jersey who ran the 50-mile race. When they came back to the Ramada at about mile 33, they asked what people were doing for dinner. We all agreed that we would try to get together for dinner after the race. I was put in charge of finding out where to eat. It was pretty late by the time they were ready (I think it had something to do with the wine and nap after the race). Mike had left long ago. Some of the other finishers had already eaten. I was walking back into the parking lot from MacDonalds after seeing Tom off when I saw these women again. I had given up all thoughts of having dinner, but since they were ready, I offered to drive. We ate at a nice place I picked out (actually someone at the Ramada suggested it). Besides, it's not too often you eat at a place where the soup du jour is cheeseburger soup (I guess it was our lucky night). When it came time to pay, they offered to pay for my dinner. And before Brian gets all steamed up reading this, let me say that it would have been rude for me not to let them pay for my dinner, especially since I drove them there in the first place and one of them ate most of my french fries anyway.

No hard feelings. Two weeks later I ran with Gary and Jaret in Shenandoah; this was Jaret's first Shenandoah run that I wrote about long ago. This was the run where Jaret and I learned that people from Tech are not just a bunch of shitkickers. No, they are actually shitpickers. Later that day, I drove over to Fort Valley to see Mike in the OD 100, his first 100-miler of the Last Great Race. It was a tough day with a lot of rain. We agreed that I would later join him at Elizabeth Furnace and be his so-called "safety runner" from there to Veach West. Mike finished in under 24 hours and was on his way to the Last Great Race.

Well, that's about it. I can't wait to read about Mike's Last Great Race and Kerry's Kettle Moraine 100.


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