Another epic (and epically cold) TWOT race was held on February 12-13, 2016. The story was Andy Peterson. Andy was the only runner who began the race clearly intent on finishing the full four loops and thus completing the 100 miler. He arrived in excellent condition, solid plan in place and with a full support crew recruited and dedicated to helping him meet his goal of not only becoming the 20th finisher in the now 15 years of TWOT and Hot TWOT races, but also in becoming the oldest finisher (at age 59). Race founder Dennis Herr was the first finisher of this race, in 2002, when Dennis was 54. Andy was remarkably, under challenging circumstances. The weather cooperated to the extent that the course conditions were fairly dry, and only a light layer of snow flurries overnight between the 12th and the 13th broke what otherwise were clear conditions. But the temps were very much a different story. Andy related after the overnight 3rd loop that he had never been as cold in his life. Air temperatures were generally in the low teens at the three check points (the Wild Oak Trailhead, or TWOT Lot; Camp Todd at the North River crossing point; and FDR 96, the road crossing between Big Bald and Hankie mountains). Winds picked up on Friday night and really howled pre-dawn Saturday. The winds remained gusty and at times very stiff throughout the day on Saturday, but sunny conditions helped to mitigate that cold. Andy was very steady, and undoubtedly was helped in that regard by pacers Eric Harris, Eva Pastalkova and Levi Mason (who also crewed for the first two loops prior to running the last two). Andy's four loops were completed in running times of 8:01, 8:13, 9:27, and 9:22 (not including the down time in the TWOT lot between loops).
All three of Andy's pacers logged two loops, with Eva adding another 25 or so miles while running an out-and-back leg to meet up with Andy and Eric during their second loop, and then run back in from somewhere up on Big Bald mountain. Three other runners completed multiple loops while running on their own: James Fogg, Kathleen Cusick, and Mike Pflieger. James was new to the course and completed his 54+ mile two loop run in just over 12 hours. Kathleen was a finisher of TWOT in 2015, another epically cold year. Mike had been on the Wild Oak Trails before, but was participating in his first TWOT. Kathleen logged bonus miles during her first loop, and then famously after her second loop, as she chose to keep going well into the night exploring valley roads in the forest.
The single-loopers ran both on Friday and on Saturday, with some of the Friday runners taking advantage of a forecast that indicated that would be the nicer day to be out on the trails. The Friday runners were treated to sunnier and slightly warmer conditions than forecast; the Saturday runners generally ran in sunny conditions as well, but the wind chill had been forecast to hit lows of minus 30, and may well have done just that. The first two finishers, who ran together over the course of their loop, were Kyle Lawrence and Dave Frazier. The first female finisher time-wise Angela Russell from Maryland, who ran on Friday. The first on Saturday, running with the bulk of the single-loopers, was Allison Alston from North Carolina.
Under the extreme cold leaving unattended aid would not have been useful for the runners, as gallons of water were freezing rather quickly when left out of vehicles. So a big note of thanks to the volunteers: first would be new RD Antoinette Landragin, who persevered despite a cold and then the failure of her truck's engine late on Saturday. Race founder and director emeritus Dennis Herr was out all day on Saturday, not only manning the Camp Todd aid station, but also providing finishers bumper stickers to the single loopers, and the now traditional giant jar of apple butter to races sole finisher. Friday runners who then stayed to help out on Saturday included Angela Russell, Sean Andrish, and Ed Rangel, all of whom provided invaluable assistance. Other volunteers over the weekend were Conni Gutirrez and Levi Mason. Thanks so much to all of you!
|Place||TWOT entrants - 2016||Age||Sex||State||Day||Start||Aid #1||Aid #2||Loop 1||C. Todd||FDR 96||Loop 2||Loop 3||Loop 4||Comment|
|1||Andy Peterson||59||M||VA||Friday||4:07||8:01/8:32||16:45/17:54||27:21/28:38||38:00||20th Finisher & Oldest|
|2||Kathleen Cusick||40||F||VA||Friday||6:37||3:05||4:20||6:40/6:53||9:38||11:17||14:19||Plus bonus miles|
|Pacer||Eva Pastalkova||39||F||VA||Saturday||13:28||9:27/10:44||20:06||Paced last 2+ loops|
|Pacer||Eric Harris||43||M||MD||Friday||4:07||8:01/8:32||16:44||paced 1st 2 loops|
|Pacer||Levi Mason||35||M||VA||Friday||22:01||9:27/10:44||20:06||paced 2nd 2 loops|
|DNF||Jim Smucker||54||M||VA||Saturday||6:45||2:30||4:09||DNF (road)||Finished on road|
|Pacer||Natalie Escobar||47||F||VA||Saturday||10:30||xxx||2:07||6:28||17 pacing miles|
|DNF||Misty Tilson||34||F||VA||Saturday||8:04||2:50||xxx||DNF||11.5 miles|
|DNF||Becky Johnston||35||F||VA||Saturday||8:04||2:50||xxx||DNF||11.5 miles|
|DNF||Marwa Karim||42||F||VA||Friday||7:50||4:01||xxx||xxx||10 miles|