A Defense of John Dodds
Massanutten Mountain Trails 100
May 8-9, 2004
by Jaret Seiberg
Never has one done more work for less than a minute.
That's right. I finished
MMT nearly one minute faster than last year. Over the course of 101.8
miles, I managed to complete the run 55 seconds better.
But I get ahead of
I never intended to run
MMT this year, let alone do it 55 seconds faster. I had promised my
very pregnant wife that I would not make any more overnight running
trips after May 1. I even signed up for Promise Land with the intent
that it would be my final pre-baby out-of-town run.
Then I realized MMT was
in early May. Really early in May. In fact, it was so early in May
than it might as well be April. And given that I was already doing
running trips in April, what difference would one more make.
Yet I had this problem.
MMT was not really in April. It only seemed that way. So I had to
find a way to convince my wife May 7, 8, and 9 were really in April.
Mike Bur tried to give me advice on this. But let’s face it.
He’s not married and really has no expertise in this area.
So I turned to the
masters: Bob Coyne and Ed Schultz. Bob goes on these insane trips
where he disappears for weeks at a time to climb mountains where
people regularly die from lack of oxygen. Then he comes home and buys
his wife a new kitchen.
Ed does not disappear
quite as much. Yet he does seem to do more big ultras and other
running events than anyone I know. He pretty much leads a Greenway
trail run every day of the week. And he’s remained married.
Bob was of little help.
He basically suggested I do the run and then come home and figure out
what type of home remodeling project she wanted done. That sounded
Ed was a bit better. He
suggested I surprise my wife unexpectedly with gifts. Then use the
brownie points earned from that to suggest that I was going to do
MMT. He said I needed to just slip it into conversation as an already
agreed upon decision.
So for Valentines Day,
I upped the present ante by getting her some nice jewelry. That was
followed by running out to get Krispy Kreme donuts when she was
having one of those pregnancy food cravings. Other smaller gestures
followed, such as a nice dinner out the night before the Fairfax
Cross County run rather than the simple pre-run meal I would have
Still, I knew that
would not be enough and I thought my MMT plans were doomed. Then
divine intervention occurred. My wife got a promotion at work and
needed to go to Chicago for five days.
Given that she would be
gone for five days, it was hard to object to me disappearing for two
days. Plus I arranged to import my mom for the weekend to help. (Yes,
my mom is really a big help. She’s not the stereotypical
Before I knew it, I had
filled out the application and was entered. My wife only later
realized that it conflicted with Mother’s Day weekend. But by
then, it was too late.
Now that I was running,
I needed to find a pacer.
I figured everyone
would already have grabbed up all the pacers. But then I heard that
John Dodds might be pacing Kerry Owens, who actually had an entire
other support/pacing system set up.
Selecting Dodds could
be dangerous. Few have a quicker wit on the keyboard then John, whose
race reports are legendary. Spending 15 hours with him on trail
certainly could give him lots of material on me.
Yet that was really a
minor concern. What really worried me was John’s chaffing
problem. Some may recall that at MMT 2002 John removed his pants to
run from Woodstock to the finish because of chaffing. What if he was
Despite these worries,
I asked John to pace. He eventually agreed after going through a
laborious process of ensuring that Kerry did not need his pacing
The pre-race day
included dinner at Jalisco’s and some whitewater rafting in
downtown Front Royal where the road suddenly became a raging river.
The Scottish Inn is a classy joint. I asked for a 3:45 am wake-up
call. The woman at the front desk brought me an alarm clock instead.
Fueled with a sausage,
egg and cheese biscuit sandwich and coffee, I checked in with Bill
"The Grim Reaper" Antwerp and then went downstairs to
find the start line. I was talking with other runners and did not
even realize the race had started, but off I was. Ran the first
section with Gary Knipling. Then Mike Broderick and I pretty much ran
together until the top of Bird Knob.
At that point, my day
turned south. I got very lightheaded, probably from a combination of
allergies and electrolyte imbalances. Yet I still made it into 211
East not far behind Mike. At that point, Dodds joined me for the
remaining 45 or so miles.
Dodds was a great
pacer. I know many may not believe me, but he kept the conversation
going when I wanted to talk and was quiet when I needed peace. I had
a real problem on Short Mountain when my lightheadedness turned into
dizziness. That is when Sue Baehre temporarily passed me. Then Gary
Knipling passed me. I told Dodds to join Gary because I was moving
too slow to make this fun for him. Being a real pacer, he did not
bail on me, something for which I am quite thankful.
About two-thirds across
Short Mountain, I started to feel a bit better and began power
walking. Then I ran the downhills, passing Sue.
Powell Mountain went
better, though I was still moving much slower than I wanted. Leaving
Powell, the dizziness was gone and I was much less lightheaded. I
still had some running issues, but I was power walking pretty fast.
Kerry Owens caught me
at this point and we either ran together or leapfrogged each other
most of the rest of the way. At Powells, I grabbed a sandwich and
left. Dodds is yelling after me that he had not gotten food yet. I
felt like a slower-moving version of Russ Evans, whom Dodds had
previously complained often left him wallowing at the aid stations.
That actually gave me a
boost out of Powell’s. Kerry and I moved pretty well around the
reservoir and up the Bear Wallow trail. We found a very shocked Gary
Knipling at the top, who thought we were 30 minutes behind him. We
briefly passed him, before he took off down the hill.
Kerry gave Gary chase,
but I lagged behind. Figured I had one big push left in my legs and I
wanted it for the Shawl Gap downhill to the finish. Spent little time
at Elizabeth Furnace and moved quickly up Shawl. I passed Kerry on
the downhill and figured there was a very slim chance of finding
Instead I encountered
Vicki and Joyce in the woods. Vicki yells out "Here she comes,"
thinking that either myself or Dodds were Kerry. No offense to Vicki,
who had been awake for a very long time and had been all over the
course, but both John and I have very short hair. Kerry has very long
hair. We really don’t look alike.
But I digress. The
advantage of running 101.2 miles at that point is you can pretty much
get away with anything. I proved that.
was my very un-PC response. "Gee I run 101 miles I don’t even
get any respect."
Of course I meant it in
jest and fortunately Vicki took it that way. Still, I’m not
sure I’ll use quite those same words again. Not everyone could
be as understanding as Vicki. (My plan had been to blame Dodds if she
was mad at me. Fortunately, that was no necessary.)
Soon afterwards, I hit
the grass field and ran to the finish in 29:02:30, besting my time
last year of 29:03:25.
At this rate, I’m
going to have to run MMT three more times to break 29 hours. Oh well.
What else is there to do on Mother’s Day?
Thank you to Stan,
Anstr, Scott, Vicki, Bunny, Valerie, and all other volunteers. You
make this race great.
MMT 2004 Report | MMT Home Page
Jaret leaves Camp Roosevelt. John Dodds at right.