Massanutten Mt Trails 100
Winners Sue Johnston and Matt Estes with RD Stan Duobinis (center).
This page has information about the 2005 Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Miler including results, photos, and reports. Please come back occasionally to see what has been added.
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By Anstr Davidson
Before the first Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Miler, there was great debate as to whether anyone would finish under 24 hours. Of the field of 58 starters, two did. John Geesler finished an MMT course with neither Short nor Kerns Mountain in just over 23 hours and Joe Clapper was just under 24. The women's winner, Kim Goosen, finished in 29:50. In 2005, MMT started its second decade with a complete revision of the record books. It certainly was an event to remember.
Weather is always the issue at MMT. May is usually a wet month in Virginia and can have both warm and cold temperatures. Over the prior 10 MMTs, we have had it all. But the most memorable times have been the thunder storms of epic proportions. Thus, the first great thing about the MMT 2005 weather is what didn't happen. It didn't rain much. The daytime temperatures were mild, not even getting into the 70s on the first day. The night was cool and clear. It was perfect running weather.
The combination of the largest starting field plus the weather produced the largest finishing field. There were 93 finishers. This is not too surprising. More starters equal more finishers. But no one could predict the revision of the record book.
The most amazing feat in historic proportions was Sue Johnston's shattering of the female course record. No woman had broken 24 hours on the course. Sue had won the race three times before but had never come close to the one day barrier. Sue started out relatively slowly but, by the Edinburg aid station was almost two hours ahead of then second woman, Bethany Patterson. Sue came into Edinburg full of energy and held on to finish in 22:38:29, over two hours under Bethany's former course record. She was sixth overall in a field strewn with great male runners. Sue's accomplishment was truly Beamonesque.
On the male side Matthew Estes's performance was equally amazing. Though he "only" improved Courtney Campbell's mark by eight minutes, it was his performance on Short Mountain the earned his comparison to Bob Beamon (the long jumper who, at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968, shattered the world record by 21 inches). Matt ran Short Mountain in one hour and thirty-four minutes. Short Mountain became part of the MMT course in 1998. That first year, Eric Clifton won the race but ran the Moreland (then called "730") to Edinburg section in 2:13. It appears that the fastest prior performance was 1:45 by Ian Torrence in 1999. Most winning runners do Short Mountain in two hours, mere mortals can take up to four hours. Matt did it in 1:34. Overall, he became only the second person, after Courtney, to finish MMT in the same day he started it.
Scott Mills and Bob Phillips Check Course Markings at Shawl Gap
MMT has become a major undertaking. It is incredible how complex it is and how many volunteers need to do critical tasks to make it all work. Many people do hard, skilled work to pull it off. For example, Scott Mills's course marking crew had the course marked in time, just in time, for the first runner and had all the ribbons taken down by a half hour after the last runner finished. The volunteers put in many miles as they run the trails to mark them, check them, and clear them.
Two folks who perform awesome tasks are the Bills -- Sublett and VanAntwerp. Bill Sublett has devised a plan to deliver all the drop bags to the aid stations and bring them back. It works like clockwork, but it uses all twenty-four hours of the clock -- and then some. Bill VanAntwerp, the "grim reaper," performs the critical function of closing down every aid station and accounting for all the runners. Bill has greatly improved accountability. Like many, he doesn't know what the word "sleep" means.
The radio crew was back this year and it gave us great support. Radio communications allowed us to have the data to make frequent updates of the event on the Internet. This year, we had a radio person at every aid station from Habron on.
The aid station captains are the heart and soul of the undertaking. They spend countless hours preparing food, planning the layout of the aid station, and then coddling tired and sometimes crabby runners. Our aid station captains have long experience at the run. We only had two rookies this year. One, Jaret Seiberg, has run MMT twice. The other rookie was Ed Demoney the former RD. Most were long time aid station captains like Vic Culp who has been at Habron all eleven years.
An Electric fan to keep the flies away at the Gap Creek Aid Station
Of course, what the runners like about the aid stations is the food. The feast includes soup, sandwiches, quesadillas, pizza, and who knows what else. Does the potato soup make Short Mountain worth it? We hope so!
Last, but not least, is the race director, Stan Duobinis. Stan has put his mark on the event while respecting its tradition. He has spent many hours to plan the weekend's activities so that the runner receives a great experience. Clearly, MMT is in good hands with Stan.
One common bond among the volunteers is lack of sleep. Many give up much of their weekend for the event. Why do they do it? Probably various reasons, but one clear one is the desire to be part of the great undertaking that 143 people set out on in the dark on Saturday morning. They were proud to be part of MMT.
Valerie with her clock before the start
Since so many people worked tirelessly, it is wrong to single anyone out. Everyone should be singled out. But there is a person who has contributed so much in so many ways to MMT that she needs her own section -- Valerie Meyer. Valerie is a numbers person who is willing to work tirelessly to make the MMT a great event. Because of Valerie, we have: (1) accurate and timely results; (2) runner accountability; (3) live updates; (4) a great relationship with the radio folks; and (5) cool statistics. This year, Valerie was again at her post from before the start to the last finisher. Mothers and loved ones all over the country have Valerie to thank for keeping them up-to-date on the progress of their runners.
Drop Station of Champions
At the Edinburg Gap aid station, we are proud that we have few drops. One year we had only one. This year we had nine. It was quite an honor to drop at Edinburg this year. First, Ian Torrence, two time prior MMT champion came up and gave me his number. It just wasn't his day. Then it was Bethany Patterson, also a former champ, and Matt McDonald. Even David Horton's cajoling could not keep then in. Mike Bur, finisher of the "Last Great Race" then joined the drops. It was quite a night.
Of course, there are many stories about the runners at MMT 100. I will leave to others to tell some of them. But I must mention one. Tom Sprouse has never dropped at Edinburg. He tried one year, but we wouldn't let him. He finished that year as he has every year that the event has been held. But Tom never makes it simple. Last year, he got lost. This year he came in to the aid station with blood all over his face and hand. We cleaned him up and sent him on his way. So now there is only one who has done 'em all. We were sorry that John Geesler could not make it this year.
Short Mountain from the southwest
MMT is about a lot of things, but most of all it is a celebration of Virginia's spring beauty in the mountains. You see the mountains from the start/finish and you tour them all day and all night. Living up to its name, MMT is a mountain race, not a road race. Consequently, runners have rocks and hills to deal with. But their reward is to experience these wonderful mountains in all of their glory. Certainly, after finishing this epic adventure, a runner has to know why "Massanutten rocks!"
Wild Azaleas below the Visitor's Center