A Red Eye Swan Song
The VHTRC's annual start to the New Year was held for the 21st year on Sunday January 1, 2017. 34 of the 120 starters got their training year's off to a solid start with a 50k finish. This 28% finishing rate was historically in line with other Red Eye years.
The VHTRC's and Montgomery County's Peter Diak was the overall winner, taking the coveted Red Eye crown in a time of 5:06. This was Peter's first ever overall win, and should provide him with some great momentum heading into his upcoming MMT 100 training. Jesse Fuller finished second overall (with a 5:09) despite pulling up with an ankle sprain in the first mile of the run. Greg Holden finished third with a time of 5:28.
On the women's side of the field, the first finisher was Jennifer Cooper with a time of 6:24, rumor has it this might have been her first ultra finish**. Jennifer was followed by Kelly MacDonald in 6:50, and Angie Knyazeva and Michele Harmon, who came into the finish together after 7 hours of 12 minutes on the Red Eye course. Holly Franz and Laura Bennett had the priviledge of escorting the first Canine-Americans to the finish, as two of Holly's dogs tied after running half of the course each, in a 50k shuttle run.
The DFL Award went to Jim Medley, a runner from the Fort Valley, who got his three loops done in a time of 8:50. Of additional note: this was Jim's first 50k finish, so he started his 2017 off a particularly high note!
RD Gary Knipling had some great help in putting the race on. Ed Walsh assisted with organizing the parking pre-race, and Bruce Tweedie was the Red Eye Rabbit - leading the runners out of the Pine Grove parking lot area in order to complete the early "silly loop" that starts the race. Ed and Bruce saw to it that the course was swept of the ribbons during the third loop, and they were both assisted by Dave Yeakel and Dave Robertson in marking the course ahead of the race. As usual, the runners supplied more than enough tasty treats for use as common aid at the finish.
The big news coming out of this year's Red Eye is that its director for a number of years, Gary Knipling, is stepping aside after this year. A new director will be needed to take the race forward into the new years' to come. We can't thank Gary enough for all he has done to grow and nurture this treasured event over the years. Gary is largely responsible for developing this annual event into the intstitution it has become, and we look forward to seeing him out at Pine Grove for future Red Eyes as either a volunteer or a participant.
Red Eye 2017 Results
** Correction: The rumor that Red Eye women's champ Jennifer Cooper had just completed her first ultra turned out to be unfounded. The author regrets the error.