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A User’s (Abuser’s?) Guide to Putting On a Training Run

Lessons learned from organizing a training run and party weekend for the VHTRC

by Sophie Speidel with help from Tom Corris
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Tom Corris and I had a lot of fun creating the ultimate trail running training and partying weekend for members of the VHTRC and the WVMTR on January 14, 15 and 16, 2005. So much fun, in fact, that we wanted to share the highlights with you just in case you ever want to host a training run for 60 of your nearest and not-so-dearest friends. Tom had a report planned for his MMT run but he’s too busy going to the Inauguration, so he asked me to write this on his behalf. As they say, the trail is a great teacher, and we came away with some good lessons. Here they are:

It was wetDO link your training run with another on the same weekend, so you have a full agenda planned. The Rivanna Ring (RR) was Saturday in Charlottesville and the MMT training run was Sunday in Front Royal. This encouraged wonderful friends who live really far away (in New England) to make the trip. Chris, Deb, Steve, and Sue, it was awesome to see you running on the trails of Virginia once again, although Steve wasn’t considering, when he chose to wear his spray-on tie-dye tights, that this is a RED state (though we are a BLUE county) that voted for values and morals (and still has certain laws from 1700s).

DO invite the WVMTR runners to join you. They are fun, friendly, really fast, and can belt out an awesome national anthem. John Reynolds of the WVMTR was the first runner to finish the RR (ahead of ultra luminaries Courtney Campbell, Russ Evans, Bill Young, and women’s leader Sue Johnston). And for some reason, they really like the Little Debbie’s snack cakes. Thank you for joining us, WV friends, and we look forward to joining you at North Fork on August 12-14.

DON’T advertise your run on the VHTRC website unless you want more than 15 people to show up. I was getting emails at 11:00 pm the night before the RR from people I didn’t know (UVA students and runners from Richmond) who asked, “any more room in your run for me?” Of course, I don’t have the heart to turn down trail runners, so I would respond, “Sure! I am looking forward to meeting you!” Of course, I didn’t get to meet hardly any of them, since they came, they ran, and they left, but I do hope they had a good time, whoever they are.

DO have a dinner on Friday night for those who are traveling from far away. Thirty runners met and ate dinner at Casella’s and then a smaller group congregated at the hotel for a little Knob Creek and Jose Cuervo. It was a great start to the party/run/party/run theme of the weekend, although Deb and Steve got the love going at Casella’s and really needed to get a room…but we were in their room.

DO invite Gary. He loves to immerse himself in the culture of the host town, especially if the host town also boasts an ACC university. Gary had persuaded the hotel clerk to give him her UVA Women’s Basketball “Orange Crush” T-shirt and Quatro gave Gary a UVA cap to wear during the RR, despite the fact that he is a devout Hokie (Va Tech) fan. Gary also took over as the official finishing line greeter, checker, and bead-giver. Many thanks, Gary!

DON’T invite Gary. In addition to being up to his usual antics at lunch, he tried to give the infamous Mango panties to a young woman who unwittingly parked her car next to his, and she turned out to be one of my high school students. “Hi Mrs. Speidel!” I heard as I saw Gary approach her with the panties. Needless to say, I have some explaining to do at school….

DO invite Anstr and ask him to craft a waiver for everyone to sign in case you get torrential downpours and flooding the night before and have to cross really cold and fast-moving streams. Anstr arrived Friday afternoon, bought all the aid as well as the beer, and drove around with me while we inspected three impassable rivers. He was amazingly positive and calm despite my panic that we might have to detour entire sections of the RR course, which we ended up doing at 0830 Saturday morning. Thanks, Anstr, for putting up with my freak-out. You were the calm amidst the storm…or something like that.

DON’T underestimate the positive and adventurous spirit of trail runners. They absolutely loved the mini-“American River” crossing with the cable across raging floodwaters, and no one complained that the trail had to be re-routed through trailer parks and commercial warehouse districts in order to by-pass impassible streams. Thank you, friends, for your flexibility and understanding, and for humoring me by wearing the SpongeBob party hats…Anita wore hers the entire way!

DO encourage friends who are injured to come and ride their mountain bikes. The Rivanna Trail is one of the few trails in Charlottesville that allows mountain bikes, so Graham and Bur were able to get in a great workout and still be part of the fun. I loved ruuning on the trail later in the day and seeing their tire tracks mixed in with shoe tracks…so glad you boys were able to join us. Heal up quick, guys!

DON’T forget that some of your runners might be famous (infamous?) directors of REAL runs and races who will be watching your every move to see if you mess up just so they can say, “Race directing is a thankless job, isn’t it?” The RR boasted a virtual “who’s who” of ultra RD’ing: Anstr Davidson (The Ring …the real one, not this poser), Chris Scott (The Ring, Bull Run Run, Coyote 4-Play), Gary Knipling (Eagle Run), Dan Lehmann (Highland Sky 40), Tom Corris (Chocolate Bunny), and Ed Demoney (MMT 100 RD emeritus).

DO encourage runners to donate to the local non-profit trail system foundation. Trail runners by nature are extremely generous and I am thrilled to say that they donated $125.00 to the Rivanna Trails Foundation. The Rivanna Trail was badly eroded by the flooding, and this was evident as we ran on the trail. If you would like to make a donation to the RTF for trail maintainence, the address is: Rivanna Trails Foundation, P.O. Box 1786, Charlottesville, VA. 22902. Thanks.

DO have plenty of aid and aid options. Runners at the RR were treated to six aid stations. There were 4 offering the usual trail running fare (water, Gatorade powder, and Little Debbie’s snacks), one that was the Birthday aid station for January birthdays complete with SpongeBob party hats, and one that was at Hardee’s. I think Tom Corris spent about 30 minutes there.

DON'T forget your ear plugs when sharing a room with Big Slim Bobby Stihl and Mickey “The Doc” McCullough, better known as “The Chainsaw Boys”. These two fine musicians will periodically throughout the night strike up their one hit wonder, “Dueling Woodchippers,” just for your listening pleasure. Now even though it usually takes them a minute or two to sync up, once they do, their melodious harmonies will bring a tear to your eye, as you quickly chamber another round. (TC)

DO ask Keith Dunn to help out as an aide station volunteer. Keith is a dedicated servant to his fellow trail runners and an all around good guy. However Don’t forget to mark the entrances to the aide stations and Don’t bother attempting to get his attention during any of his high speed passes. He’s just circling the field, and he will land shortly. (TC)

DON'T get pissed off after humping two gallons of water to the top of Indian Grave and learning that all but one of those for whom you done humped that water up to, have already left. Relax. Have a drink. Life is short. They’ll be at another run. It might even be dark. (TC)

Bill PottsDO surround yourself with loyal trail-loving friends to help you. Bill Potts helped to conceive and promote this event as a member of the WVMTR and worked tirelessly Friday to mark, buy the Little Debbie’s and “winner’s” T-shirts from Bodo’s Bagelry, and to clean up trail streamers Sunday after hosting a house full of WVMTR friends all weekend. Christine Collins (VHTRC and my training partner in Charlottesville) met me at 6 a.m. on Saturday to determine whether we should re-route the course, and she also helped me on Sunday to clean the course of any orange streamers despite a recurrence of ITBS. Quatro Hubbard sacrificed his Friday state holiday (Lee-Jackson Day) off from work to drive through torrential rain at 6 a.m. to help us mark and make decisions about possible alternate routes, then he drove home to Richmond to be with his sick kitten, only to return to Charlottesville at 6 a.m. Quatro and SophieSaturday morning to test the stream crossings in the dark (while Christine and I watched from the river banks, nice and dry). Q decided that I was in way over my head with this event so he bagged the run in order to help me mark two road detours just minutes before the leaders came through. In the end, Q’s assistance was the reason the RR went off without a hitch, and he did it all while putting up with my obsessing, worrying, and excessive caffeine consumption. He is also a pro at marking trail so I think he needs a job at Bull Run or MMT doing just that.

Many, many thanks to Bill, Christine, and Quatro for all of your help… I owe you guys big-time!

Christine and SophieI’d also like to thank my very patient and supportive husband Rusty, who met Anstr at Greenberry’s on Friday while I was out marking trail. As soon as I arrived, Rusty said, “OK, you’re in your element, I’m outta here!” He took the kids for the next day and a half just so I could play with all my ultra friends…and then he got to go mountain biking all day on Sunday.

Finally, I’d like to thank all the runners who came from near and far to run on our wonderful and funky Rivanna Trail. I wish you all could have run on the true RT and avoided the architectural eyesores that Anstr was so impressed with…but there’s always next year! Mark your calendar for Martin Luther King weekend, 2006…Happy Trails!

Rivanna Ring Finisher Times (time of day)

Distance: 21.1 miles per Russ Evans GPS
Start time: 8:00 am on Saturday, Jan 15, 2005
Wisecracks: courtesy of Sophie and Quatro (mostly Quatro)

RunnerFinishComment
John Reynolds (WVMTR)10:50wins the LD challenge (boys)
Jay DiCharry 10:54chip time - started 10 mins late
Rick Kwiatkowski11:07 
Courtney Campbell11:10course too flat for Courtney
Jeff Wilbur11:10ran course the wrong way
Bill Young11:10always runs well on mud trails
Sue Johnston (VHTRC)11:28wins the LD challenge (chicas)
Caitlyn Ramsey11:31going for the upset
Charlie Shaffer11:31 
Dan Lehmann11:38looking for Sophie’s Butt Slide
Bill Potts11:38co-RD slowed by marking duty
Russ Evans11:41measures 21.1 Sophie miles
John Dodds11:47leads the peloton
Gary Knipling11:47Hokie survives visit to Hooville
Jenny Deegan11:47survives running with Gary
John Geundelsberger11:47 
Paul Arnett11:47 
Laura DeWald11:50bonked (her words)
Adam Matheson11:51 
Barb Isom11:53great 2004 racing carries over
Mike Broderick11:57almost bonked (his words)
Bill Gentry11:57no goats in his way this time
Christine Collins12:00couldn't catch Gentry
Karen Zacharias12:00 
Charlotte Rock12:00got lost in "spur," took a cab
Frederick Hindman12:03 
Gary Smith12:03moves up after booth review
Bob Clark12:15trail newbie
Lisa Randolph12:15better than running on tow path
Graham Zollman12:15mtn biking with Bur
Mike Bur12:15“2.5 times harder than running”
Jay Johnson12:15 
Justine Morrison12:15watch out for her in 2005
Gloria Allie12:18no need for VHTRC medics
Kendra Horger12:20 
Chris Faigle12:20 
David Quivey12:20ran with a babe
Jill Quivey12:20loves running in Choc. Mousse
David Snipes12:20patented sprint at finish
Deb Pero12:20sporting twin SpongeBob hats
Steve Pero12:20tights painted on by Deb & Sue
Farouk Elkassad12:32now hates mud as well as rocks
Marty Lindemann12:33Mar-tay likes to par-tay
Tom Corris12:46stopped at Hardee’s
Sarah Johnson12:52 
Bob Phillips12:52dove in river for Chris’ bottle
Mark Shaughnessy12:59sought cookies at end
Joyce Fendley1:00out sprints Anstr to finish
Dru Sexton1:00Dirt Chick loves runs in mud
Vicki Kendall1:00confused by course markings
Anita Finkle1:00wore SpongeBob hat
Jay Finkle1:00sporting Wahoo blue lips
Anstr Davidson1:15one word: swollen!
Rita Cronley1:15had fun (her words)
Lucia Davidson1:15slowed up for Anstr
Ed Demoney1:34honored to have him
Caroline Williams1:34healthy again
Walker Williams1:34healthy again
Pete York1:34never saw him
David StuckeyFinishedspud
Chris ScottFinishedpoor penmanship
Brett CummingsFinished 
Chad FreckmanDNFOn,on to Moore’s Creek
Peter HatchDNFran Monticello trail instead
David LitherlandDNFback from injury

66 starters, 63 finishers

If you signed the waiver before and after the run, recorded your time-of-day finish, and we could read your handwriting, then your name should be listed above. If not, sorry.

Happy Trails from the Central Virginia Chapter of the VHTRC!

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