MLK Weekend

A big thanks to the VHTRC for once again putting on this two day festival of running on rocky trails over the MLK weekend.  The Massanutten Training Academy for 2016 got off to a fine start, with the Saturday, January 16 running of Quiz 1: the run of 32 miles from the MMT 100 starting location at Caroline Furnace Camp along the course to, in essence, the Elizabeth Furnace Campground area.

The run was once again hosted by Brian McNeill.  55 runners started, and all but two finished their runs without incident.  Both of the runners who had their runs cut short had medical issues, but were able to seek medical assistance with the aid of fellow runners and the crew of volunteers out on the western ridge of the Massanuttens.  All the runners who completed the full distance to the Signal Knob parking lot finished before dark, making this the first occasion that Training Academy Quiz #1 has wrapped up in the daylight.  The finishers in the Signal Knob parking lot were treated to a choice of Brian's chicken soup, or the now traditional batch of delicious vegan chili supplied by Ed Walsh's wife, Sandy.

Quiz 2 was a new event this year: The Waterfall 50km.  The original MLK Weekend Day 2 run had been the Gap to Gap run (running the MMT 100 course from the Gap Creek I aid station back to the Gap Creek II aid station).  This was a popular event and a great training run.  But it was set in the coldest spot in that area, alongside the Gap Creek and deep in Crisman Hollow; the parking in that area was a challenge for the 70+ runners who showed each year; and access was not guaranteed due to the Forest Service's road closure policy for some of their service roads, such as the dirt road through Crisman Hollow.  So the event was shifted to a start/finish out of the ever-accessible and popular 211 East commuter lot for a few years.  The runners were still doing the Gap to Gap course, but with the new start and end point.

For 2016, Mike Bur conjured up a new course for the MLK Sunday run.  Waterfall is mean.  In the first 5k, the starters were ascending nearly 1,400 feet, where the volunteers waited to note each runner's Waterfall 5k time.  Matt Bugin was first, in what likely is not a distance PR for him: 34:17.  Kyle Lawrence was second in 36:47, and Andy Peterson (in the closing stages of his training to tackle the TWOT 100 next month) topped out third in 40:31.  Since Matt went on to finish first overall, he is the first King of Waterfall.  The first two women in the Waterfall 5k were Becca Weast and Sophie Speidel, who came literally skipping up, hand-in-hand, in a time of 45 minutes. They had already decided to do their own thing from that point on rather than continue in the race, so they gave up all rights to be the Queens of Waterfall.** Sara Fanous completed the Waterfall 5k in 52:44, and was the first woman to finish the Waterfall 50k, so she is now the reigning Queen.

These events would not be possible without the generous donations of time in these remote mountainous areas given by so many incredible volunteers.  A big thanks to all who drove out to provide aid for the runners over the two-day MLK weekend!

Waterfall 50km Results

** January 22 edit: The story originally gave incorrect credit to the first women to finish the Waterfall 5k.