When most sensible
people are just turning over for the completion of a good night’s
sleep, 129 ultra-marathoners will embark early Saturday morning on
what will be for many, a 36-hour odyssey that some have called pure
Leading a local
contingent of eight runners in the ninth-annual Massanutten Mountain
Trails 100-Mile Run competition is Woodstock attorney Kevin Black,
who has already finished one century race this year (Umstead, five
weeks ago) and hopes to complete four more by October.
The race – the
first of three 100-milers scheduled to be run in the northern
Shenandoah Valley in the next month – begins at 5 o’clock
Saturday morning from Skyline Ranch Resort, in Warren County.
Scheduled for Memorial
Day weekend is the second-annual Old Dominion Memorial 100- and
50-miler and the last local human century race of the season is the
25th running of the Old Dominion 100 Mile One-Day Run,
scheduled for June 6-7.
What makes MMT unique
is the entire 100-mile-plus course is run entirely on rocky trails of
the George Washington National Forest. The best vantage points for
spectators are Camp Roosevelt and the national forest’s visitor
center on U.S. Route 211, east of New Market and of course, the
resort headquarters, where runners will begin returning early Sunday
Black, 42, says he
believes everything’s on track this year.
will be an easy time,” Black said. “At least I want it to
Last year, Black
finished but when he took his shoes off for the last time after the
race, one couldn’t tell he had feet for all the bruising,
contusions and blisters.
training a lot and the only thing that concerns me right now is that
I won’t get much sleep the next several days. It’s a
tough race and thinking about it makes me stay awake.”
If all goes well, Black
said he’d like to cross by the Woodstock Tower by 3 a.m.,
“That might be a
bit ambitious,” Black added. “Last year, I got there just
before daybreak but I sick as a dog 45 miles into the race. If I run
more conservatively, I might make it.”
From that point, Black
will still have over 14 miles to go to the finish line.
If Black succeeds in
his quest, his five remaining races are achievable.
Upcoming on his race
schedule is the grand-daddy of all 100s: The Western States (Calif.),
in June; followed by the Vermont 100, in July, and the Superior Trail
100 in Minnesota, in August.
The last race of
Black’s 600-mile season will be the Arkansas 100, scheduled for
Black added he’s
surprised more people haven’t flocked to watching the runners
“If you think of
all the reality TV shows there are now, our races aren’t that
much different,” Black said. “We’re all just a
little bit crazy.”
Other local runners
include 45 year-old Jean Heishman, of Fort Valley; Woodstock’s
Roy Marshall, 47, and his wife Amber; James Wood physics teacher
Jonathan Whitehead, 27, of Wichester; 42 year-old Richard Kerby, of
Berryville, 47 year old Mike Walsh of Paris; and newcomer Larry
Friedenberg, 42, of Bayse.
Chuck Jackson is a free
lance writer living in Maurertown, Virginia. This article originally
appeared in the May 9, 2003 edition of the Northern Virginia Daily,
Virginia Happy Trails Running Club
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