Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Mile Run
Massanutten 100 Race Report
Running on Cookies
by Bill Turrentine
My goals at this year’s MMT 100 Mile Run were to finish without injuries (minimize effects of running on rocks), keep my hydration and fueling under control and not go out too fast followed by a crash and burn. We also planned the weekend to allow maximum time for Luanne to hike. We stayed in Luray, and Luanne met me on Saturday at aid stations near the south end of the course. On Sunday, she went to the finish and hiked from there.
Bill leads the way into Shawl Gap
I have heard a rumor that several people who saw me at aid stations thought I looked terrible. I think it may have just been a look of concentration from trying to not forget anything that I needed to do at the aid stations. Twice someone said something that reminded me to take electrolytes.
In prior years, I had put out minimal drop bag support. This year, I put together drop bags for a number of aid stations (Habron, Camp Roosevelt, Gap Creek, 211E, Powells Fort). Each bag had sandwich bags with cookies, a bottle of Ensure, and at 211E, a change of shoes/socks. Given the wet trail coming back into Gap Creek the second time, I also had a change of socks in that drop bag in case my feet got too wet. At most aid stations, I drank some soda and ate some other food. I drank Ensure where I had drop bags (except for an extra one I carried from Gap Creek to Edinburgh and drank there). I ate only cookies and drank water between aid stations, e.g., on the climb up Habron Gap.
Early in the day I tried to keep the pace in the very comfortable range. At aid stations like Veach, Milford and Habron, I was within a few minutes of prior times. Luanne met me at Habron and gave me some cookies, since the drop bag I thought I had was not there. By Camp Roosevelt, however, I was 26 minutes slower than in 2005 (split for the leg was 14 minutes slower but that includes the time spent at Habron aid station). The climb up Habron went better than I thought it would. That climb always seems like the steepest and longest on the course. The Stevens trail (yellow blazes) seemed like a stretch that would never end. The repeated curving of the trail around a side valley followed by a climb up over a small ridge seemed like constant déjà vu and I kept thinking that just over the next ridge I would come out into the parking lot near the aid station. I had not done that stretch during the training runs but it also occurred during a stretch where the first low point of an ultra tends to happen for me (between 28-30 miles). I met Luanne quite a ways out of Camp Roosevelt on the trail and it took longer to get to the aid station than I thought it would.
The segment to Gap Creek seemed to go well, but the combined time at the Camp Roosevelt aid station and between aid stations was a few minutes slower than previously. This may have been partially from sitting down for a few minutes at Camp Roosevelt. As I was sitting, I asked what was in the cups on the table in front of me – the answer came back – beer. So, at that aid station I drank Mt. Dew, beer, and a bottle of Ensure, ate some food, and then ate a hand full of potato chips walking up the trail. Luanne met me again at Gap Creek and then did a hike up Jawbone Gap and a bit of Kerns Mt. The next couple segments do not directly correspond to those of previous years so it is difficult to compare times. I hit another bit of a low after Kerns Mountain and ended up walking a bit more than I thought I should between the unmanned aid and the descent going down Waterfall. My legs were feeling the effort somewhat and the steep descent seemed to go slowly. My toes seemed to repeatedly jam against the front of my shoes and I decided that I would change them when I reached 211E. On the way down, I ran with Hunt Bartine on the last segment of trail and road into the aid station. Unfortunately, the length of time spent changing shoes and socks allowed him to leave before me.
The climb up to Bird Knob aid station went well but it got dark coming back on Ant Rd. shortly after leaving the aid station. Coming down the rocks using a flashlight was a new experience. I returned to 211E and met Luanne there. We agreed that she would go back to the Motel for the night after I left. After refueling, I headed back up the climb to Scothorn Gap and then to Gap Creek. I felt better this year going up that climb than in past years. The stretch from there to Moreland Gap seemed to go fairly quickly. I caught up with Hunt again at Moreland along with a number of other runners, including Joyce. Then came the climb up Short Mountain and the long stretch to Edinburgh. This was another segment that seemed like it would never end. I kept looking for the start of the descent. After the potato soup, a bottle of ensure and other food, I began the climb up Powell Mt. This was the point where my split times ended up being faster than in any previous MMT run. The run to Woodstock Tower and Powell’s Fort seemed to pass quickly. After a quick breakfast (eggs and sausage) and a bottle of Ensure at that aid station, I headed off for Elizabeth’s Furnace. The descent seemed to go on forever, but I kept moving well and it was my fastest split ever for that segment.
Photo: Aaron Schwartzbard
Luanne joined me at Elizabeth Furnace, having hiked there from the finish, and led the way up the final climb. The last time she did that, I felt really pressed to try to keep up. This year was not as bad. We passed Joyce a short way out of the aid station and charged up the hill. On the way down the other side, I eventually pulled a bit ahead of Luanne when she had a bit of a knee problem on the trail, but she was able to catch me on the road and we ran to the finish line across the field at Skyline Ranch together.
Upon reflection after the run, I never really ran low on energy. I did not slow as much as in the previous years during the last miles and my splits between the aid stations from Edinburgh to the end were the fastest ever. My hydration level and electrolyte balance seemed to stay at reasonable levels. For the first time after finishing, I did not feel like my feet had been pounded into jelly. I ended up with one minor rub on my right little toe but no blisters or other rub marks. My recovery and soreness in my muscles (about 3 days) was no worse than after Promise Land. In some ways it was my best MMT ever because I met my goals, even if the time was not my fastest.
Final estimates of food and liquids consumed is over 30 cookies (peanut, chocolate chip and ginger snap), 8 bottles of Ensure, several handfuls of potato chips, 2 egg and sausage meals, 16 succeed capsules, 16 cups soda (mostly Mt. Dew), one beer, 3 cups soup, and over 200 oz. of water.