And the studs would be Jaret, Sean and me. Actually, that's not the case. But it was a good try anyway.
Noon start at Elizabeth Furnace. The plan was to meet at Elizabeth Furnace at noon and get in a good run before dark. Then we'd head to Jalisco's for dinner and then to the Signal Knob parking lot for the Moonlight Run. From Elizabeth Furnace, we would run up Shawl Gap and follow the MMT100 course as far as the top of the Veach Gap trail. From there we would make a right and go to the Sherman trail and back down to Elizabeth Furnace. I got to Elizabeth Furnace before noon, and Jaret showed up several minutes after noon. He said he had stopped for coffee and even though he knew he would be a little late, he figured Kerry would be even later. Which was true. She and Sean showed up at about 12:40. She was very apologetic and explained why she was late. Frankly, I wasn't really paying attention because I was thinking that now we were looking at finishing in the dark. Which we did.
The weather was cold and there was a slight rain. I thought the rain was going to be worse than it was. The running conditions were very difficult. The road section was very icy in places, and we often had to walk on the shoulders. The snow on the trail was about 4 inches deep with a top layer of icy crust. It was fatiguing trying to run in that stuff. It hurt when we were running downhill because we would break through the crust, and it would then bang against our ankles and shins. I actually had cuts in my legs from this crust. And there was water everywhere. I think I counted 574 stream crossings, and they were ice cold. In addition to the streams, there was a lot of water trapped under the snow on the trail itself. According to Jaret, the whole thing was a "slog." I think Jaret used the word "slog" about 1,296 times during our 5 hour 53 minute adventure that day.
As we came down the Sherman trail, it got dark. I slipped numerous times because of the darkness, the snow, and the fact that the trail seemed to be heavily canted in places. It wasn't fun. I decided then that I would forego the Moonlight Run. Here are excerpts from the official VHTRC report of the Moonlight Run:
If you missed it, you might have been smart!
It was clearly the most physically demanding Moonlight Run and, perhaps, the least fun.
Jaret and the tree. At one point during the run, Jaret ran into a tree branch which cut his face slightly. But he apparently didn't think this was any of his doing because he asked me whether he had actually run into the branch or whether the branch swung down and hit him. I told him it was actually worse than that: you see, the tree was actually 50 feet up the hill at the time it spotted Jaret coming. So the tree pulled up its roots and ran down the hill and swung one of its branches just as Jaret ran by. Freakin' unbelievable. Not every day you see someone survive a tree attack.
Jaret relives his MMT experience. As we ran down the road toward Veach Gap, Jaret and Sean ran ahead of Kerry and me. When we made the right off the road into the Veach Gap aid station area, we saw Jaret and Sean stopped just beyond the aid station. Jaret had one of those Gary Knipling grins on his face. Pointing at a spot just off the trail, he yelled, "Kerry, this was the first time." I was wondering what he meant. Then he explained that this was the first place he had diarrhea during MMT last May. A little while later, he pointed out the second place he had diarrhea during the race. Sure wants to make me sign up for MMT. I think if we got enough signatures, we could petition the Forest Service to erect appropriate signage at these locations. If you're wondering why Jaret would call attention to all this, then you are obviously not a true trailrunner.
Kerry's wardrobe malfunctions. On a snowy, icy, rocky trail, would you expect someone to show up in road running shoes? Well, Kerry did. But that was ok because she had brought along her high-tech running studs that she attached to her shoes. Apparently, they hooked on the front and back of each shoe. As we came down the Shawl Gap trail, Sean stopped to go to the bathroom. The rest of us stopped to wait for him at the Bur-Dodds Memorial Cutoff. When Sean finally showed up, Kerry gave him a hard time for lagging behind. Then, without a word, he held out his hand and gave her one of her studs that had fallen off a while back. She hadn't even noticed it was gone. Later, one came off when I was running behind her, and I almost caught it in the air as it popped up. Despite her best efforts to keep them on, she finished the run with only one. The other one is still out on the trail somewhere.
Going up Veach Gap, Kerry realized her Camelbak was out of water. She said she might have punctured the tube. I asked her how she could do that, and she said to use my imagination. Boy, that's one thing you don't want to ask me to do. I asked her if it involved a knife, and she said no. Before I could ask any more questions, she changed the subject. Apparently, this is a tactic of hers when she doesn't want to answer an embarrassing question. She'll say something like, "Do you think Wesley Clark will win in the Arkansas primary?" From then on, she would drink out of Sean's water bottle or my Camelbak.
Coming down the trail from Veach Gap, Kerry fell down. No big deal as we looked on. Then she held out her arm, saying don't just stand there, help me up. So I did. I noticed that she was just wearing knit gloves which were soaked. Her hands had to be freezing. I was carrying two extra pairs of mittens: polar fleece and ski mittens. She chose the ski mittens. Not bringing the right kind of gloves is one thing, but what I was wondering was why one of her gloves was burgundy (with "Redskins" on it) and the other one was black. In any event, I believe that under VHTRC rules, Kerry owes me big time (I'll have to ask Linda what she got from Quatro).
What's for dinner? During this run, all that Jaret could think about was getting to Jalisco's. I think it is somewhat odd for someone to fantasize at great length about tortilla chips and cole slaw. But that's what he did. Although Jaret was the last one to leave Elizabeth Furnace after the run, he was the first one to make it to Jalisco's. I still can't figure out how he did that. At the restaurant, I had already decided that I wasn't going to do the Moonlight Run, so I ordered the three beef enchiladas, rice and beans. Kerry had pretty much decided not to run, and she went with the three chicken enchiladas. Jaret was definitely running, but he didn't hold back; he ordered the ever-popular Front Royal Special (as did Sean). I'm sure there is some reason why I'm telling you what we had for dinner, but that reason escapes me now.
Who's paying for dinner? As we all were about to order, I had to break it to the group that I had left my wallet in my other coat, which I had left at home. For some reason, this didn't really surprise anybody. Kerry readily said she'd pay for my dinner. I guess when it comes to women paying for my dinner, I'm incorrigible.
The next day I found Kerry's gloves in my Camelbak so I washed them (see how thoughtful I am) and gave them to Ed Schultze on Sunday when we did a training run on the Greenway trail. I put $15 in one of the gloves. Ed is supposed to give it all to Jaret who will then give the stuff to Kerry. What do you think the chances are of Kerry ever getting that money?
Cleveland. I know that many of you since the first paragraph have been asking yourself this question: why would someone who won Bull Run Run last year, finished Wasatch in under 24 hours, teaches track with Courtney Campbell, and is sponsored by Montrail run with the likes of Jaret, Kerry and me? I guess he's just one lucky guy. Sort of reminds me of the person who is headed for Las Vegas and then realizes he's on the plane to Cleveland.
Separate ways. After dinner, I headed home. Kerry and Sean said they'd drive to the Signal Knob parking lot to see the start of the Moonlight Run. Apparently, they got lost because Jaret said they never showed up. Jaret actually did the Moonlight Run - he later said it was a slog.
Until next time -
Virginia Happy Trails Running Club
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