Martha Moats Baker Memorial 50Km

August 8, 2020
7:00 a.m. Start
Wild Oak Trail Trailhead
[Note: the 2019 race has been canceled due to construction on the Hearthstone Dam that has closed Tillman Road]

MMB is the acronym for the Martha Moats Baker Memorial 50K. This is a low-key, no-fee run.  Results for the 2018 event, and for the previous ten years of MMB 50k's, can be viewed through the links in the "MMB Resources" box below.

Entry to this event is limited to 60, due to Forest Service regulations and the logistics of parking in the start/finish area. The entry to the 2020 race will open in early July.  

All MMB runners will receive an e-mail the week of the race with a food assignment.  It is this runner-supplied "tribute" that will be used to stock the three event aid stations.  The leftovers will be brought to the finish line for snacks in the parking lot after the race.

Runners at Memorial
2013 Runners at the Martha Moats Baker memorial - Photo: Tony Escobar

The Start

MMB Resources

The start is at the same trailhead as the TWOT start/finish. If there is no room for your vehicle in the parking lot, park along the road near the lot, but with all four wheels off the pavement. You need to be careful in some places as there may be a stone culvert or ditch to be avoided.  Another parking overflow option: you can go back to the road junction about 200 yards from the parking lot, turn left and park along the side of that dirt road (Tilghman Road), where there is a shoulder that can handle a couple dozen vehicles. Be CAREFUL parking on Tilghman, as runners have, in past years, ditched their vehicle while trying to pull off the roadway. Do NOT park at the Camp May Flather entrance, which you will pass on your way in. For directions, refer to the TWOT page.

While in the parking lot and on the trails, remember that we always want to leave our surroundings cleaner than we find them.  Carry out not only any of your trash, but try to achieve some good trail running juju by picking up after other users.                   Leave No Trace!

Here is the course narrative, the inscription on Martha's memorial, and other information about the course.

Course Description

IMPORTANT NOTE: There will be markings to help at critical points along the length of the course, which the runners have indicated in past years allowed them to stay on course with little difficulty.  Even with those markings, running this race without a thorough understanding of the course and/or a waterproof copy of the turnsheet and the map is foolhardy.  Even if you are "sure" that you will be running with someone who does know the course, and you have great faith that just following the occasional flour arrow on the ground is guidance enough, carry that map and that turnsheet, and refer to it at each station to prepare you for the next section.

Okay - here we go:

Start at the parking lot, heading counter-clockwise on the white-blazed Wild Oak Trail. Go up and over Grindstone Mountain and continue on Chestnut Ridge to the top of Little Bald, all on the white TWOT trail. Here you leave the Wild Oak Trail and go right on Bald Mountain Road for 4.4 miles past the 2nd gate to FDR 85 and hang a right. Go 1.2 miles uphill on this dirt road to the stone spring (this will be marked), and climb up the short, steep “trail” to the Reddish Knob aid station (12.5 miles). From the top of Reddish Knob take a new trail between the guardrails on the north side of the parking area, descending down stone steps. After a steep descent through a thicket, cross the paved road and enter Timber Ridge Trail (431). You will essentially follow this trail for 7 miles down to Tillman Road - with the trail changing names mid-way. During this section at the first trail junction stay to the right/straight, and at the second you will stay left/straight. At this second trail junction, the trail you should stay on will now be the Sand Springs Trail (423). Do NOT take the next right on to Hearthstone Trail - stay left/straight on Sand Springs Trail!  You will bottom out on Tillman Road, then go right for a very short distance (1/10 of a mile), then left on Narrowback Trail (432) and down into The Slab aid station (19.5 miles). Leave the aid station on your left, climb the yellow-blazed Narrowback Trail for a half mile to the Tower Trail (432A), then right for about a mile to Tillman Trail. Right on Tillman Trail back down to Tillman Road, then left for a mile and a half on the road to the last aid station (24.9). Climb right from the road onto the Grooms Ridge Trail (blazed yellow) and trudge up 4 miles to the junction with the white-blazed Wild Oak trail. Go left on Wild Oak and bomb 4 more miles down to the parking lot and the big MMB 50 finish (actually closer to 33 miles, with over 7,800 feet of elevation gain - yeah, that WAS hard).

Turnsheet [pdf]

Volunteers - 2018

  • Dennis Herr - RD Emeritus/Reddish Knob AS/Finish
  • Guy Towler - Reddish Knob AS/Finish
  • Jan - Reddish Knob AS/Finish
  • Bill Gentry - SLAB AS
  • Lydia Durand - SLAB AS
  • Adam Matheson - Grooms Ridge AS
  • Anthony Matheson - Grooms Ridge AS
  • Will Matheson - Grooms Ridge AS
  • Natalie Escobar - TWOT Lot Finish
  • Vince Bowman - Trail Marking
  • Jack Broaddus - Trail Marking
  • Dan Aghdam - Equipment Wrangler
  • Carol Cohen - Results
  • Quatro Hubbard - Heckling/Marking

Volunteers are eagerly sought to make this event a success. Contact if you are available and interested in helping out.  

MMB Memorial

MMB StoneThe MMB Memorial site is about 2 miles north of Little Bald on the right side of the Bald Mountain Road between two oak trees. Once you pass the 1st gate, it's at the northern end of the 2nd large wildlife clearing area. The inscription says:

Martha Moats Baker
Born 1880
Froze To Death Near This Spot
On Brushy Mountain
January 1925
Found August 30, 1925

Again, the aid stations for the event will be set up at Reddish Knob (12.5 miles), The Slab/Tillman Road (19.5 miles) and at the Grooms Ridge Trailhead (25 miles).

Note to those on the wait list - this race has a history of HUGE attrition.  In 2018, over 25% of the entrants dropped in the last week (82 down to 56). In 2017, over 40% of the entrants and wait listers ultimately dropped out of the field. 2016 also had a lot of drops. So if you find yourself on the wait list, and you really do want to run this race, have faith, have patience.  The odds are good that you will find yourself on the MMB entrants list once race week finally arrives.  

Note to everyone - since there is such a demand to run MMB, make sure you have fully absorbed the wheres, the whens, the hows of this race before you commit to enter.  The Wild Oak Trailhead parking lot is about 2:30 to 3 hours of drive time during non-rush from the DC Metro area; it is about 2 hours from the Richmond area, and about 1 hour from Charlottesville.  If you are coming from other areas, dial in "Wild Oak Trail, Fr 95, West Augusta, VA" into Google Maps to get a very precise travel time. The location shown is the TWOT lot where the race starts and where it concludes.

So now that you have read this far, and hopefully have a good sense of the nature of this event.  If you are still interested in joining us for MMB, then look for the entry link here in the summer of 2020!   

Final Note: This race is now an official VHTRC event. Thanks to the club for its support!  Big thanks, as always, to Keith Knipling for creating the course map and profile below:

Course Map and Altitude Profile

Martha Moats Baker Course Map
Course Map. Click for larger image (1 MB)

Martha Moats Baker Elevation Profile