The Ring

The Massanutten Mountain from Milford Gap

The Ring -- Massanutten Trail Circuit Run

September 5, 2020

There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. --Will Rogers

Entry into The Ring will open Monday July 27th for the 2020 race.  Entry may or may not involve a lottery - more details to come 

2019 Results

2019 Entrants List

The Ring

For the uninitiated, The Ring is a circuit of the entire 71-mile orange-blazed Massanutten Trail in the George Washington National Forest, on the ridgelines of the eastern and western ranges of the Massanutten Mountains around the Fort Valley, situated roughly between the towns of Front Royal and Luray. The "trail" is hard, rocky, and slow. Sections of the trail have been around for centuries, but the entire, uninterrupted, 71-mile Massanutten Trail was not completed until 2002.

Even before the trail could be officially dedicated in the summer of 2002, Chris Scott convinced a reluctant Anstr Davidson that they had to be the first to run the entire Massanutten Trail. Having beaten others to the glory of christening the trail when they completed that initial circuit run in April of that year, Anstr and Chris were then kind enough to serve as the hosts for the first organized running of The Ring in the fall of 2002 (for others foolish enough not to heed their warnings that a sane person would not really want to do this run). Over the next four years the Lords of The Ring continued to induct new members into the Fellowship of the Ring. After a one-year sabbatical in 2006, The Ring returned in search of more victims, but under two new Ring Leaders. Chris and Anstr passed the burden on to Mike Bur and Quatro Hubbard, who have remained in charge since.

The Fellowship of The Ring

The Fellowship of The Ring – those who have previously completed The Ring – currently consists of 242 members. Previously, the best part of being a member of The Fellowship was that, unless you were the first finisher the year before, you were not eligible to run The Ring again. That original rule prohibiting recidivism has been eliminated. If you have run The Ring in previous years, you are now welcome to come back and infllict all of this punishment on yourself again.  

The selective amnesia of most trail runners is an amazing thing to behold.  Virtually every finisher touches on these three themes before they drift off to sleep after completing their 71-mile run: the aid stations and volunteers were great; the finishing descent down Signal Knob sucks; and thank goodness that this is done, so that I never have to do it again.  Yet somehow many do return to beat themselves up on the rocky Massanutten Trail yet again.

Now the best part of being in The Fellowship is that only its members are eligible to run the Reverse Ring in late February. So plan ahead for 2021! Get this prerequisite course completed in 2020 so that you will be eligible to come back and play on the same beautiful trail in the middle of the winter, which is when it really shines.

How to Enter

Registration for the 2019 running of The Ring opened on July 22, and closed on the evening of July 29 (Monday to Monday).  The lottery was not needed; all final entrants were entered into the field.  A wait list was then opened, but the field did not decrease in numbers to the extent that the wait list was utilized.

Entry WILL be strictly limited to only those who meet the qualifications detailed below.  Seriously.  We check.  So please don't try to enter if you don't meet these simple qualifications.

In order to enter The Ring, you will need to demonstrate that you are "qualified" to run in this event. A runner who is already a member of The Fellowship obviously meets this requirement. Otherwise, we are just looking for runners to fall into one of the following two simple categories in order to gain entry into The Ring:

  1. Completion of a trail 50 miler *AND* recent experience on the Massanutten trails (e.g. "Massanutten Training Academy" MMT 100 training runs).
  2. Completion of any 100-mile race.

Backcountry experience and the ability to read a map would be helpful since there will be no ribbons or glow sticks to follow, just the "native" trail markings (i.e. those orange-painted blazes on the trees). Carrying a course description and the PATC Map G is highly advisable (see link below).

The Lottery:

2016 was the first time we conducted a lottery for this event.  Frankly, we never thought it would come to this point for an event of this nature.  But entry to not only The Ring but other club "Fat Ass" events has become more and more competitive, in that those runners who happen to have access to a computer and the awareness that entry to an event has opened are getting in, while others end up shut out.  This lottery was created to make the ability to get into this event that much more equitable and fair, and much less stressful for all concerned.  

The initial lottery was entirely based on the random numbers issued to the runners at the time of entry, and the DOW. The lottery was not utilized in 2016 as the number of entrants was close enough to our goal of 55. So we let all 61 entrants in. New entrants after that point were placed on a wait list.  All told we had over 80 entrants for the 2016 event, and 53 toed the line on race morning.

There was a lottery for entry into The Ring in 2017. The lottery into that race opened on Monday July 24, 2017, and closed on Monday evening July 31. The lottery was run based on the Dow Jones close on Tuesday August 1, and the field of 55 was set that evening. A wait list was built from those 28 additional runners not initially selected for entry. We ultimately moved 70 runners into the final entrants list, due to the number of volunteers who had committed to help, the number of runners left on the wait list, and the uncertain weather forecast (which we thought might lead to a number of last minute drops). 61 runners started.

2018 - again, the lottery proved useful.  Of the initial 95 runners, 55 were selected.  With the number of volunteers committed again allowing for some growth, the field was expanded to 65 a week before the race.  After much attrition from the entrants list and the still-oversized wait list, 65 made up the final field.  59 started on race morning.

For 2019, the lottery was not needed, as there were 83 official entrants, and historic attrition rates indicated that the desired field of roughly 60-65 runners toeing the start line would be achieved by just letting them all in from the get-go. A small wait list was subsequently created, but ultimately was not utilized. 61 runners started the race in 2019.

If you decide that you will not be participating in The Ring, let Bur and Q know, so that we can remove your name from the entrants' list.  This helps with our final planning for race weekend.  

Anyone interested in volunteering at The Ring should contact Q and Bur – we would love to have your help. We are specifically seeking volunteers to handle the following roles during the race:
1) to head up each of the aid stations along the course
2) at least one additional volunteer at each aid station for clipboard and other support
3) At least three "roving aid" volunteers, who will leave each aid station one, two and three hours after the lead runner with drops bags.
4) A night-time "rover" to help with shuttling not only late bags, but runners who have dropped at the later aid stations.

Volunteers - 2019
Mike Bur
Quatro Hubbard
Larry Tumblin - Milford Gap/Rover
Ryan Brown - Milford Gap/Rover
Jose Cardenas - Milford Gap
Erik Price - Milford Gap
Denise Coll - Camp Roosevelt Captain
Bob Gaylord - Camp Roosevelt
Katherine Renken - Camp Roosevelt
BJ Shannon - Camp Roosevelt
Chelsea Butler Smith - Camp Roosevelt
Ashley Carr - Camp Roosevelt
Brian Carr - Camp Roosevelt
Mike Hart - Camp Roosevelt
Tom Buell - Camp Roosevelt
Christian Stanton - Crisman Hollow Road
Elaina Stanton - Crisman Hollow Road
Tammie Garstecki - Crisman Hollow Road Captain
Jeff Garstecki - Crisman Hollow Road
Gavin Watson - Crisman Hollow Road
Tom Simonds - Moreland Gap Captain
Bruce Tweedie - Moreland Gap
Charlene Howard - Moreland Gap
Larry Watson - Moreland Gap
Michael Gildea - Edinburg Gap
Melissa Gildea - Edinburg Gap Captain
Laurel Lundstrom - Edinburg Gap
Dani Sevel - Edinburg Gap
Steve Campbell - Edinburg Gap
John Fitz - Woodstock Tower
Alvin Lee - Woodstock Tower
Nate Best - Woodstock Tower Captain
Jeff Best - Woodstock Tower
Peter Forlan - Woodstock Tower
Nick Neakrase - Woodstock Tower
Homer Komthirath - Woodstock Tower
Guy Towler - Powells Fort Camp Captain
Dan Fogg - Powells Fort Camp
Mike Edwards - Powells Fort Camp
"White House" Tom McNulty - Signal Knob Finish Line (Night)
Babs McMullen - Signal Knob Finish Line (Night)
Joel McMullen - Signal Knob Finish Line (Night)
Sarah Curtis  - Signal Knob Finish Line (Day)
Eric Watson - Signal Knob Finish Line (Sunday)
Tracy Cooley - Signal Knob Finish Line (Sunday)
Rick Bennett - Signal Knob Finish Line (Sunday)/Rover (Saturday)
Ed Walsh - Rover
Sandy Walsh - Rover
Kevin Bligan - Rover
Josh Howe - Rover
Ram Oruganti - Rover
John Hord - Rover (Night)

The Ring is a typical Fat Ass run in that there are no entry fees, no significant awards, and no t-shirts.The support from this race comes from the generous sponsorship of the VHTRC. Entrants in other Fat Ass events are generally admonished that there will be no wimps and no whiners. In this instance, just choosing to start The Ring proves you are not a wimp, and EVERYONE whines at the end. We would be disappointed if it appeared as though the runners were actually having fun. So when it gets to be your turn to whine about how badly Signal Knob sucks, try to be at least a little bit creative. 

Those Pesky Details 

The run will start at 7 a.m. on Saturday September 5 at the Signal Knob trailhead off of Route 678 near the northern entrance to Fort Valley. Each runner will be allowed a single, sturdy, well-marked runner bag, which will be collected prior to the start in the parking lot. By "well-marked" we mean PUT YOUR NAME ON IT. ON THE OUTSIDE.  On something that will be be visible to volunteers in the aid station. Using a method of marking that will stay attached to your bag.  This means YOU!  Sigh - don't be that person this year!

We will shuttle that single bag around the course for you. You will not see it at Milford Gap (the first aid) nor at Powells Fort Camp (the last aid station).  But you should see it at every aid station in between. Please try to keep the size of your runner bag within reason. Make sure that it will also reliably and easily seal so that the contents remain in your bag during transport. And did we mention that it should have your name clearly marked on it?

Be prepared to run long stretches at The Ring in between aid stations. For those of you who have run VHTRC events before, even the Fat Ass runs tend to provide everything you might need at an aid station. If you have special requirements, there is the above-mentioned runner bag option for you. You may have crew come out to follow you around, and even to run some with you if they can arrange their own transportation.  But crew should be aware that the Ring Leaders will almost surely press them into more general checkpoint duties - particularly shuttling runner bags forward.  So they should be forewarned of that likelihood.

There will be some aid at the Milford Gap crossing of the trail (mile 13.2). This will be mostly a water pit stop for the runners.  One of the biggest mistakes runners of The Ring appear to make is getting behind in their fluids early, so take full advantage of this water stop in the middle of the opening 25-mile stretch of The Ring. Don't try to overthink this!  Carry max fluids, and refill to the same extent at Milford.  Your body will thank you later in the race!

The first full aid station, where you will encounter your roving runner bag, will be at Camp Roosevelt at mile 25, so plan accordingly. The other official checkpoints are listed below, and if all goes according to plan, your runner bag will be waiting for you at each of them (through Woodstock Tower).  We will not shuttle your bag to the last aid station at Powells Fort Camp, but instead will return it to the finish at Signal Knob after the aid station at Woodstock closes.  Plan accordingly!

There are a number of hard cut-offs at The Ring. There is no hard cut off at Milford, but getting in and out of there prior to 11:30 gives you the best chance of making later cut offs and finishing. The first actual cutoff is at Camp Roosevelt (mile 25).  If you are not out of that aid station prior to 3:30 PM, your race is done for this year.  This allows you at least 3 hours to do the following 9+ miles to Crisman Hollow (mile 34.3) to beat the soft cut off of 6:30 here.  Your second hard cut off is at Moreland Gap (mile 40.7), which you need to leave before 9:30 PM to continue the run with our support.  The third hard cut off is at Edinburg (48.7), where you need to be out by 1:30 AM.  The final enforced cut-off is at Woodstock (56.9, and last runner bag station), at 6 AM.  We hope that these cut-offs will put you on pace to get through Powells Fort Camp before 8 AM and then on to the finish before noon on Sunday (29 hour pace).  These cut-offs are put in place to help focus the runner's minds along the way, so you will continue to move forward with a sense of purpose, and have a better chance of finishing.  But ultimately the cutoffs are there for the benefit of the race volunteers, and they will be strictly enforced.
For more information, refer to Kimba Love-Ottobre's excellent 2015 blog post:
How to Run "The Ring"

And Keith Knipling's famous Pocket Charts.


The Massanutten Trail

  • Milford Gap - 13.2 miles
  • Camp Roosevelt - 25 miles
  • Crisman Hollow Road - 34.3 miles
  • Moreland Gap - 40.7 miles
  • Edinburg Gap - 48.7 miles
  • Woodstock - 56.9 miles
  • Powells Fort Camp - 62.7 miles
  • Finish (Signal Knob Parking) - 70.7 miles

Directions to the start at Signal Knob

From the DC Beltway (I-495) take 1-66 West approx. 60 miles to US 340 south (Exit 6, - the second Front Royal exit). Follow US 340 south 1.1 miles to the traffic light at VA Route 55. Turn right onto VA 55 and follow it west for 5.2 miles to Waterlick. Turn left (south) onto VA Route 678. Follow VA 678 1.8 miles into George Washington National Forest, and a total of 3.4 miles to the marked entrance of the Signal Knob parking lot, located on the right-hand side of the road. Plenty of parking spaces are available in this lot. Map

Links to reports and results from the previous years' of The Ring can be found below. If you have questions, comments, or smart remarks, send an e-mail to Quatro and Bur.

Reports and Results of Prior Runs

Other Information

Sun and Moon Data for One Day

The following information is provided for Strasburg, Shenandoah County, Virginia (longitude W78.22, latitude N38.59):

Saturday, 31 August 2019  Fort Valley Daylight Time                       


Begin civil twilight       6:14 a.m.
Sunrise                      6:41 a.m.
Sun transit                 1:14 p.m.
Sunset                       7:46 p.m.
End civil twilight          8:13 p.m. 


Moonrise                  7:55 a.m.
Moon transit             2:32 p.m.
Moonset                   8:58 p.m.

New Moon on 30 August 2019 at 6:37 a.m. Fort Valley Daylight Time. 

Phase of the Moon on 31 August, 2019: Waxing Crescent with 2% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated.

In other words, the Moon will be taking the year off from aiding the runners at The Ring in 2019!  Bring at least two good lights and fresh spare batteries!

The Fellowship of The Ring

The Lords of The Ring

Anstr Davidson
Chris Scott

The Class of 2002 (6)

Harry Bruell
Scott Mills
David Horton
Bethany (Hunter) Patterson
John Dodds
Gary Knipling

The Class of 2003 (9)

Ryan Henry
Randy Dietz
Jaret Seiberg
Steve Pero
Deb Pero
Mike Dobies
Alex Papadopoulos
Bill Turrentine
Ed Demoney

The Class of 2004 (15)

Sue Johnston
Scott Brockmeier
Mike Bur
Scott Crabb
Bill Wandel
Quatro Hubbard
Sophie Speidel
Margie Hughes
Anita Finkle
Barb Isom
Vicki Kendall
Dru Sexton
Graham Zollman
Bob Phillips
Carolyn Gernand

The Class of 2005 (12)

Jeff Wilbur
Steve Burton
Mike Broderick
Greg Loomis
Tom Corris
Kerry Owens
Ed Cappuccino
Bill Gentry
Bill Losey
John DeWalt
Bob Combs
Jeff Washburn

[No event in 2006]

The Class of 2007 (10)

Mike Schuster
Joe Clapper
Jim Harris
Diana Widdowson
Debbie Shaffer
David Snipes
John Straub
Teresa Sukiennicki
John Prohira
Gerard Pritulski

The Class of 2008 (9)

Keith Knipling
Jon Norris
Dave Garman
Bryan Banning
Frank Probst
Bob Anderson
Jen Jacobs
Alan Roche
Mark Mckennett

The Class of 2009 (12)

Sean Andrish
Dan Rose
Justin Faul
Mason Parker
Ryan Fulwider
Karsten Brown
Zsuzsanna Carlson
Paul Crickard
Marti Kovener
Gary Lukacs
Robert Andrulis
Caroline Williams

The Class of 2010 (13)

Jack Kurisky
Dave Yeakel
Ernesto Casarez
Elise Harrington
Rhonda Stricklett
Alan Gowen
John Godinet
Scott Millar
Gary Maier
Rick Moyer
Jill (Devereaux) Jacobs
Carolyn Wilson
Kim Love-Ottobre

The Class of 2011 (8)

Rande Brown
Cam Baker
Kari Brown
Jeff Best
Yukiko Nishide
Hiroyuki Nishide
Brian Beduhn
Jeff Gura

The Class of 2012 (11)

Danny Mowers
Kent Gallup
Matt Smythe
Ken Wolters
Gray Weaver
Ed Rangel
Charlie Joyce
Stephen Cooper
Larry Huffman
David Quivey
Doug Sullivan

The Class of 2013 (15)

Brad Hinton
Jack Anderson
John Cassilly
Joe Schramka
Kathleen Cusick
Jay Finkle
Paul Lefelhocz
Ron Eshleman
Michael Gildea
Tony Escobar
Mitchell Potter
Diane Behm
Shelly Cable
Todd Hanks
KC Guevara

The Class of 2014 (14)

Chris McIntosh
Grace (Evan) Fisher
Robin Watkins
Gavin Watson
Mike Sutherland
Heath Harris
Dave Herring
Irawan Balcet
Steve Boutilier
Gaynor Bourgeois
Tom Hendell
Leonard Martin
Rachel DuBois
Katie Raezer

The Class of 2015 (21)

Joey Cohen
Angela Russell
Erik Price
Andrew Simpson
Chris Pabian
Aaron Ellison
Eric McGlinchey
Scott Lee
Daniel Winkle
Bruce Tweedie
Greg Trapp
Stephanie Dempsey
Betsy Nickle
Carol Cohen
Todd Lewis
Gilbert Gray
Katie Keier
Jen Page
Bob Gaylord
Andrew Thomas
Sarah Curtis

The Class of 2016 (24)

Jake Rankinen
Jeff Garstecki
Eric Harris
Levi Mason
Patrick Vaughn
Danny Rogers
Rick Bennett
Larry Watson II
Michal Kawecki
Lara Zoeller
Casey Fisher
Adeline Ntam
Philip Yeager
Dave Woll
Alvin Lee
John Fitz
Rob Kolb
Dan Aghdam
Marty Fox
Guy Towler
Don Riley
Ed Walsh
Jayme Dubinsky
Chris Miller


The Class of 2017 (32!)

Adam Watkins
Christopher Moore
George Sefzik
Paul Jacobs
Sheila Vibert
Jesee Fuller
Todd Ellick
Ronald Green
Brett Martin
Doug Massengale
Adam Katkhouda
Andy Peterson
Josh Wadlington
Josh Jones
Rob Tidwell
Justin Peake
Andrew Burnette
Dan Hawk
Jeff Pence
Samantha (Pitts-Kiefer) Neakrase
Ashley Carr
Brian Carr
Brian Chiles
Kathy Hoegler
Larry Tumblin
Hillary Peabody
Richard Sisson
Kelly Fletcher
Judith Weber
Ken Furman
Joyce Fendley
Jamie Greenawalt


The Class of 2018 (29)

Dan Fogg
John Marciari
Matt Christovich
Michael McDonnell
Jose Cardenas
Daisy Weill
Ryan Brown
Josh Howe
Charlene Howard
Jim Lopez
Barry Hauptman
Paul Valenzuela
Dawn Gray
Steve Andrews
Jimm Ouellette
Homer Komthirath
Jesse Parker
Derek Fox
James Miller
Stephanie Fonda
Mandy Pierce
Dani Seiss
Kurt Byrnes
Jason Maruccio
Jeffrey Klemm
Elsa Araujo
Jon Jester
Amanda Lichy
Lisa Johnston

The Class of 2019 (18)

Jeremy Lucier
Christie Taylor
Heather Dougherty
Ryan Nebel
Matt Banning
Carl Bligan
Michael Zinn
Raymond Rogers
William Fallier
Jason Farr
Luc Claessens
Daniel Gracias
David Peppelman
Kevin Walker
Travis Bertram
Lou Brooks
Derek Kennedy
Sirisha Golla