Massanutten Mountain Trails 100
May 8-9, 2004
by Rich Limacher
Why do I sit here shell-shocked in my freaking seat thinking
that I just got back from a whole week's worth of time
travel to The Stone Age?
Because that's exactly where I've been!
I have been to the Massive Nothing Mountin' & Hurtin'
100-Mile (for some) Kinda Footrace. To the best of my
knowledge, this event took place in the Pleistocene Epoch.
Maybe One Million Years, B.C.! But... you can bet your
sweet bippies that Raquel Welch was NOT wearing any skimpy
bikini or little fur booties. No, she probably Did Not
Start or else got smart and stayed in the cave.
Here's what probably happened, although of course this is
just IMHO and not at all based on anything scientific, or
biblical, or even good ultrarunning:
The Deity sat on a rock... and got inspired.
"I KNOW!" spake the One. "First there shall be light, and
then there shall be heavy. We shall create two earths:
Earth Lite and Earth on the Rocks. Then," the Deity
continuedeth, "the latter shall be dumped out and emptied
upon the former. It shall be considered virgin territory,
or Virginia, and the name of this work shalt be henceforth
forever entitledeth: The Massanutten Mountain Trails."
"Heh-heh-heh," the One chuckled to Themselves, "TRAILS!!!"
And so it chanced to pass, umpteen and boucou millennia
later, our non-hero Little Putzy suddenly also became
inspired. He thought, "Hmmm, I've never done Massive
Nothing before. Might just as well fly there and knock that
thing off in my spare time."
"Besides," he reasoned (having been recently tempted to
join this here "50 States and DC" marathon and/or beyond
thingamajigy), "I still need Virginia."
Thus, armed with the invitation of a good buddy who lives
there (or close to there or, nah, over four hours away from
there in heavy traffic--causing us to completely miss the
briefing), our little anti-hero Putzive finally put up the
Chutzpah to journey thither, and thence to partake his place
upon the starting line... and the rest, as they foretold in
the bible movie, is history.
And here is his story: (intact and in keeping with the
spirit of the original) "Veni, visi, victatus sum."
(Translated now by the Esteemian estoned classics scholar
Professor U. Gottabekiddingme:) "I came, I saw, I got my
And following my bitterly embattled DNF at (or before)
Powell's Fort, I told Mike, my buddy and host-with-the-least
for the weekend: "Mike," I said, "let me put this course
into perspective for you. You've not done Hardrock yet, but
let me assure you: You could take one or two of the highest
mountains out there, blow 'em up into a billion-chillion
50-pound chunks, dump the whole mess on these Massanutten
trails--and nobody would notice any difference."
You can gather, I'm guessing, I'm dissatisfied.
No! Not with the MMT course or the event or the VHTRC or
their website--nah, none of that. These things are all
beautiful people. What I'm actually kinda dissatisfied
with... is the Deity. Heck, I thought Hell was DOWN, not
East! I thought Sadam was captured already. In Iraq! I
never ever imagined I'd be staring at the Prince of Darkness
dead in the face for 89+ miles in Virginia--which, I'd
thought, was (didn't John Denver say it was supposed to be)
I was completely unprepared. How could a "loving" Almighty
concoct such a thing? Trails?? Gosh, here I thought all
along that Barkley was the only "trail race" on Earth
without trails. Turns out, that's no longer true.
Let me condense my illogic into a syllogism for you. OK.
If a regular "trail" is a path in the woods where humans can
run, walk, locomotate, crawl, ooze, or slide; and a Massive
Nothing gap betwixt and between trees is a path where none
of those things are possible; then is a Massive Nothing
pathway a "trail"?
Once again, I found myself the other night explaining my
absence to a co-worker.
ME: Let me try to illustrate what those Virginia mountains
SHE: I'm listening.
ME: See this entire huge building we're in?
SHE: (Looking around) Yeah. So?
ME: Well now, just imagine--and I'm not hinting or
advocating anything here--but let's just suppose some
terrorist came along and blew the place up.
SHE: That's terrible!
ME: Yes, but illustrative!
SHE: How so?
ME: Well, think of what this place would look like after
being exploded into a kajillion chunks on the ground.
ME: OK, now pile the rubble of a billion buildings for a
hundred miles and then try to imagine running over the top
ME: See what I mean?
(After an even longer pause than the last time I used this
literary device in a race report :)
SHE: You are absolutely CRAZY, Rich.
ME: Ah, I see you see what I mean.
Well, after all is said and done, what after all can I say?
Here all along I thought Barkley and Hardrock were tough.
Folks bitched about Massive Nothing, but secretly I *knew*:
How tough CAN it be? Rocks? Heck, we got rocks in
Wisconsin. That damn glacier scraped 'em all out of Canada
and dumped 'em HERE back in the Stone Age. (Ice Age?)
Surely, hard rockin' near D.C. couldn't possibly be any
worse than stumbling through the Kettle Moraine!
Fiends, I'm tellin' ya, Hardrock is high, yes, but most of
the time... you can walk! Barkley is impossible, yes, but
most of that jungle is mud. It *is* possible to live
several daze, if need be, in the mud. But trying to
motivate yourself across the Stone Age rubble of a
quadrillion chunks of busted biblical structures the size of
the milkbox on your front porch (nah, sometimes the size of
the porch!)... well, in my case, the challenge was just a
tad too tough.
All of which brings me to my final (yea modest) proposal:
Trail work? Lots of ultramarathons are now starting to
require runners to do a certain amount of "volunteer" work
maintaining trails in order to qualify just *to enter* their
events. So, how about this: I suggest for the next umpteen
years that ALL ultras throughout ALL the world require this
trail work to be done ONLY on the Massanutten trails. Yea,
this means everybody. Ye all, who are thus willing and
hence crazy, shall henceforth be required to clear rocks off
of ONLY that theoretical "trail" winding its way across the
annual Massive Nothing 100-Mile Crawl.
And yes, I do truly and honestly believe that, sometime
within the next, oh, six dozen years or so...
...nobody will notice any difference.
Yankee Folly of the Day:
Man, we should've just let Robert E. Lee have his way.
Then, thank heaven, ALL damn Yankees would still be
FORBIDDEN to enter Virginia.
A Few Rocks on the MMT Course on the Scothorn Gap Trail
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