Massanutten Trail Circuit Run
September 3, 2016
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
The lottery for entry into the 2016 race opened on July 24, 2016. The initial lottery entry period closeed on Wednesday July 27, 2016. Entry has been reopened, post-lottery, to allow later entrants to join a wait list. We will move eligible runners off the wait list and on to the entrants' list as space opens up. The entry link can be found below the race information on this page.
Entry has been limited, with a goal of having 55 runners in the starting field.
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 157 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 2017! Get this prerequisite course completed in 2016 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 2016 running of The Ring opened on July 24, and the initial entry period for the lottery ended on July 27. Registration will be limited in an effort to accomodate roughly 55 runners, and will again 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. Being 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:
- Completion of a trail 50 miler *AND* recent experience on the Massanutten trails (e.g. "Massanutten Training Academy" MMT 100 training runs).
- 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) and required for first timers.
The Lottery: This 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 numers and the DOW. The lottery was not utilized as the number of entrants was close enough to our goal of 55. So we let all 61 in. New entrants at this point will go on to a wait list.
Please let Q and Bur know if you decide that you will not be participating in The Ring so that we can remove your name from the entrants' list or the wait list. As runners drop and let us know, we will move the appropriate number of runners off of the wait list on to the entrants list.
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) Three "roving aid" volunteers, who will leave each aid station one, two and three hours after the lead runner with drops bags.
Volunteers - 2016
Chloe Marsh - Medical Aid
Bruce Tweedie - Milford Gap/Roving
Larry Tumblin - Milford Gap/Roving
Betsy Nickle - Milford Gap/Roving
Jim Smucker - Rover #1
Mike Hart - Rover #2
???? - Rover #3
Denise Coll - Camp Roosevelt Captain
Katie Keier - Camp Roosevelt
Erik Price - Crisman Hollow Road Captain
Angela Russell - Crisman Hollow Road
Lisa Bandiera-Woetzel - Crisman Hollow Road
Tom Simonds - Moreland Gap Captain
Kimba Love*Ottobre - Moreland Gap
Gary Maier - Moreland Gap
Scott Lee - Edinburg Gap Captain
???? - Edinburg Gap
Jeff Best - Woodstock Tower
Birgit Mitchell - Woodstock Tower
???? - Woodstock Tower
Michael Gildea - Powells Fort Camp Co-Captain
Melissa Gildea - Powells Fort Camp Co-Captain
Katie Burke - Powells Fort Camp
Rachel DuBois - TBD
Charlie Joyce - TBD
Erin Willett - TBD
Stephanie Danahy - Signal Knob Cafe/Finish Line
John Stacy - Signal Knob Cafe/Finish Line
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. This means YOU! 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. The biggest mistake runners 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. The first full aid station, where you will encounter your roving runner bag, with 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). 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 three hard cut-offs at The Ring. The first is at Moreland Gap (mile 40.7), which you need to leave before 9:30 PM to continue the run with our support. The second 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 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"
- 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
Reports and Results of Prior Runs
- 2002 (September)
- 2002 (April) Chris Report | Anstr Report
- Ring and Reverse Ring All Time Data (Excel)
- Mileages on the MT Trail (these mileages are counter-clockwise -- NOT the way we (you) are going)
- Massanutten Trail Information (PATC)
- Get Map G from the PATC
Sun and Moon Data for One Day
The following information is provided for Front Royal, Warren County, Virginia (longitude W78.2, latitude N38.9):
Saturday, 3 September 2016 Eastern Daylight Time
Begin civil twilight 6:17 a.m.
Sunrise 6:44 a.m.
Sun transit 1:12 p.m.
Sunset 7:39 p.m.
End civil twilight 8:06 p.m.
Moonrise 8:48 a.m.
Moon transit 2:57 p.m.
Moonset 8:59 p.m.
New Moon on 1 September 2016 at 5:03 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
Phase of the Moon on 3 September, 2016: Waxing Crescent with 5% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated.
The Fellowship of The Ring
The Lords of The Ring
The Class of 2002 (6)
The Class of 2003 (9)
The Class of 2004 (15)
The Class of 2005 (12)
[No event in 2006]
The Class of 2007 (10)
The Class of 2008 (9)
The Class of 2009 (12)
The Class of 2010 (13)
The Class of 2011 (8)
The Class of 2012 (11)
The Class of 2013 (15)
The Class of 2014 (14)
The Class of 2015 (21!)