Boyer's Furnace Race Report

Full 2017 Boyer's Furnace Results, Reports, and Photos can be found here.

Boyer's Furnace 40 Miler Report - by Josh Howe

The fresh coating of snow wasn't gonna stop a few of us crazies from playing in the Massanuttens all day for the annual Boyers Furnace 40 miler... make that 41 miler!

If anything the snow made the rocks more bearable because you couldn't see them. At least along the East Ridge it was out of sight, out of mind. Having done this fatass race before a few years ago, I was hoping to improve on my time and see what I could do.

Josh pre-race

First and for most, a big shout out to Carol Cohen for being one bad ass RD, thanks to Q, Tony, Dan, Jon, Homer, Brett, Susan, Challen, Debbie and the army of volunteers that stood out in the cold to take care of us.

Shortly after 7:30 we were off and I was leading the pack up the orange blaze. Once we got to Edith's Gap a few of the faster gents sped off. I kept them pretty close thou for a while. I ended up running with Brad, Kelly, Ryan and Keith (pictured here) for a bit along the ridgeline. There were some pretty great views with the fresh powder topping the distant peaks. Just past Milford, I took off. It was pretty awesome how comfortable I felt flying over the rocky snow covered terrain. Suddenly I found myself in 3rd place around mile 16. My avg pace was something crazy that meant I was probably going too fast. I put my head down to concentrate on not falling over and in the process missed the turn for the aid station. I was continuing down the orange / blue blazed trail, well over a half mile at least. When I realized my mistake I was so pissed... and was a little demoralizing. I ran back as fast as I could hoping the others had been delayed somehow and I wouldn't be too far behind. Apparently I wasn't the only one to do this... there were lots of footprints going both ways.

Next up was 6 miles of dirt road through Fort Valley passing the ruins of Boyers furnace then navigating the less snowy and rockier Barren wasteland of the Western ridge between Woodstock tower and Edinburgh. At one point I was pretty sure I spotted the frozen remains of a hiker... it turned out to be just a tree stump! I began to slow significantly, feeling the affects of my speedier pace earlier. My Watch died on me just over 28 miles in around the 6 hr mark. The rocks were exacting their revenge. I briefly ran with a bear dog who trotted along gleefully.

My feet were cold to the bone and wet. I was concerned and had forgotten to bring a fresh pair of socks with me. The uncomfortable cold chill was creeping up slowly. I decided I was going to call it a day once I got to the next aid station at Edinburgh. I was feeling under the weather as I was still recovering from a cold this week. I was beaten and bruised and had a pretty gnarly gash on my lower leg. Definitely a contender for best blood! But when I got to the aid station the volunteers rushed into action, letting me warm up and even giving me a pair of dry socks to put on. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you to that volunteer I did not know. I think someone told me later, her name was Susan. [Ed. note: Susan Gardner was the Good Sock Samaritan]

View of Shenandoah Valley

I knew the last section was 9 more miles of road and I really wasn't looking forward to it. As I sat there, Jesse Fuller came over and talked to me, convincing me that I still had some miles left in the tank and that I should finish it with him.

I finished in 9 hours and 49 minutes. Enough for a 91 minute PR over my previous time. While it wasn't what I had hoped for, it was probably what I needed. A reminder that even when I feel beaten and broken, I can finish strong with a little help from my friends.

Boyers Furnace