The BRR 2007
Leigh Schmitt has now won three Bull Run Runs in a row. Photo: Chris Scott
by Anstr Davidson
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
T.S. Elliot, The Waste Land
You know you are a ultra runner when you are consulting the weather report almost hourly as Saturday approaches. The report this year was a big tease. For one brief, shining moment, the report was perfect. Saturday would be rain-free with a temperature in the 60s. That moment passed. As the report shifted all over the ball park, the question became simple. When would the rain start?
Well that "cruel April" ended up doing us a favor. The rain pretty much held off and 336 runners enjoyed cool weather and only bits of occasional drizzle. "Le deluge" held off until the trip home. [Spelling note. As viewers of VHTRC.org know, we are spelling-challenged. T.S. Elliot spelled it "cruellest." The spell check says "cruelest." We have no clue.]
In the 15th Battle of the Bull Run Run, Leigh Schmitt and Amy Sproston took the top honors. Leigh finished his third BRR in a row in a time that is now second on the all time list. While he was in a pack with four others at the first turnaround (8.5 miles), he was by himself at the end, winning by almost 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, Amy Sproston, who just started trail running last year, won a surprisingly tough women's race in a time that is also second on the all time list. Before the event, everyone was talking about the strong men's field while discounting the women's field. But Amy, Justine Morrison (second), and Bethany Patterson (third) put on a great race. Bethany led at the turnaround, but Amy's effortless style allowed her to pass Bethany soon thereafter and lead the rest of the way. These three ladies ran great times. They are now second (Amy), fifth (Justine), and seventh (Bethany) on the all time women's list.
The fourth women was 47-year-old Nancy Kleinrock from New York. In her first BRR, she ran 8:03:41, well under Laura DeWald's previous master's event record.
The other big story of the day was in the sixty and over age group. Frank Probst, now a fifteen-time finisher, won and became the only sixty-year old to break nine hours. Frank was 52nd overall of the 300 finishers.
Bluebells at upstream end of course
The Real Star of the BRR
Over the years, there has been one constant hero of the BRR -- the bluebells. Some years they are better than others, but they are always there. This year, they were spectacular. The late, cold spring did not deter them from welcoming the runners to the beauty of Virginia. There are bluebells scattered over many portions of the trail from Hemlock upstream to Bull Run Regional Park. That means that the runners are greeted with almost 15 miles of bluebell sightings.
Chris Scott monitors the upstream turnaround
In a return to tradition, the Chris-Anstr turnaround monitoring team greeted runners at the upstream end of the course. Chris and his assistant drove to the turnaround, stopping on the way at the local "Tall" means "Small" Coffee Shop, operated by Big Brother, aka Starbucks. Meanwhile, Anstr was checking the trail markings before the runners got there and found a beer bottle. So the turnaround "cone" became a strange mixture of coffee cups, a beer bottle, and a flower.
It became clear that there are three kinds of runners -- those who commented on the beer bottle (all men and a few women fit into this category), those who commented on the coffee (caffeine addicts were about equally divided between men and women), and those who commented on the flower (all women).
There is little to report of the race at this point. It's too early to mean anything. Everyone was happy and the relative placings of the runners were subject to significant change over the next 40+ miles.
Wolf Run Shoals
The MASH crew at Wolf Run Shoals
BRR veterans always look forward to the Wolf Run Shoals aid station. This aid station has, historically, had ice cream sandwiches available for the runners and each year it adopts a different theme. In support of the theme, the aid station crew has dressed as space men, Gladys Knight and the Pimps [sic], and a wedding party. This year, the crew was a MASH unit. Yes, come watch as BJ, Hawkeye, Radar and Hot Lips laugh they way through war! It is a wonder that anyone ever left this aid station.
The Finish Line
[You will note that VHTRC.org didn't have "Full Team Coverage" of BRR. In our old age, we just sat at Hemlock and alternated eating pizza and drinking water. Our cholesterol is maxed out about now.]
Valerie Meyer and her finish line crew
The BRR finish line is a wonder to behold. Sort of like a three ring circus, only more action and a bit less organization. The heart of the operation is runner control -- Valerie Meyer. Valerie is responsible for the timely, quality data you see on the results page. She was assisted this year by Carolyn Gernand, Michele Kane, and Betty Miracle. I could comment on these wonderful ladies, but have just enough sense not to. Just suffice it to say that they were there for the duration and only chewed me out a couple of times.
There were many other wonderful volunteers at the finish area, but we won't mention any more lest we get in even more trouble. Just remember that as you dragged your tired butt across the finish line, got your finisher's jacket, ate pizza, and picked up an award, you have many people to thank.
And this doesn't even mention the aid station folks. There were many, many people at the aid stations helping runners complete their runs. There is no way to thank those folks adequately.
Kathryn Hale, with Lenne, celebrates her BRR finish
Despite our best efforts to do everything right, we missed one runner in the initial finishers' list. Kathryn Hale finished in 11:08:51 with her boyfriend, Lenne Stolberg. Unfortunately, we did not initially list her as a finisher. We have fixed that. Please accept our apologies, Kathryn.
This reporter's annual job of sweeping the first part of the course (with the help of Mike McCumber and Mike Bur this year) gives him a view of the litter. Most years the course is very clean. This year was no exception -- over this first portion. I found one cup near the Centreville Aid Station that had been dropped by someone who thought he was in the New York Marathon and who will not be back next year. Additionally, there were about three orange peals.
There is controversy about whether it is ok to drop things like fruit peals in the woods. This reporter believes that it is ok to leave an orange peal in the woods, but only if no one else can see it. You throw an orange peal well away from the trail where no one can see it or cover it with leaves. You don't drop it on the trail for all to see. The person who dropped the orange peals will also not be back next year.
Unfortunately, we heard a report from a reliable source that the second part of the course was bad for litter. In case you ran the race and don't get it, let us repeat. You don't throw anything on the ground. If you do, you don't come back. Additionally, we may also kill you. Seriously. We aren't joking.
Fifteen-time finisher Frank Probst with RD Bob Phillips
There are four people who have run every Bull Run Run. Usually, Tim Stanley leads this group across the finish line. Not this year. Frank Probst led, with Tim, Mike Talbot, and Tom Green behind. Harry Smith finished his 14th BRR, remaining in the exclusive "all but one" club. Wes Fenton, Mike Tatarko, and Bill Wandel all made it to lucky 13. For some runs, one has to question the sanity of these multi-year finishers, but for BRR it is easy to understand. Why wouldn't you want to do it each year? Of course, at this point, it's not a question you ever ask yourself. If you have done them all, you are completely locked in and have no way out.
Charlie wih some of team "Cap'n Charlie's Fading Furbutts. Charlie's wife in background.
This year, the team competition was redesigned to promote credible competition and to prevent "Dream Teams." Everyone hated it. So there were fewer teams than last year. There was, however, a competition.
The senior category had only one team. Cap'n Charlie's Fading Furbutts won. A big congratulations to Sharon Lapkoff, Vicki Kendall, Carole Smith, Charlie Miracle, and Steve Bowles.
In the testosterone competition, Vertical Runner from Ohio - Vince Rucci, David Peterman, Lloyd Thomas, T J Hawk, and Ronald Ross - was the only team that finished all members. Team Results
Team Vertical Runner almost all showed up.
Finally, in the mixed division, Team Whiteout Conditions - Glen Redpath, Nathan Echols, Randy Miller, Lisa Madden, Donna Graham-Finan - was the best of nine that finished all their members. Second in this division was Beth and the Boys, a team composed of Quatro Hubbard and four people who could really run -- Bethany Patterson, Christopher Calfee, Darin Dunham, and David Snipes. The Laurel Volunteers were third in this division. That team was composed of Richard Freeman, Robert Struble, Ted Massa (former co-RD of Laurel Highlands), Joe Triglia, and Rebecca Fox-O'Kelly.
Don't worry, we will shoot the idiot who drafted this year's team rules. Next year, you will be able to have O. J. Simpson on your team for all we care.
Bob Phillips with "best blood" winner Krista Schepanovsky
For the first year, BRR was led by someone without the word "Scott" in his name and who was not educated at taxpayer expense in Colorado Springs. Bob Phillips was this year's RD of the Bull Run Run. This was a Hokie BRR, not a Falcon one.
Bob did an excellent job. He had to work in the shadow of Chris Scott who created the aspects that make BRR unique and Scott Mills who made the event into an annual sell out. Bob accommodated tradition while bringing new blood into the event. He tirelessly put his heart and soul into it. That is all we asked of him!
For those of us who were there at the start 15 years ago, this is a sensitive time. Our child has grown up and is going to leave the home. We will not stop loving him, but we will have less influence over him. Will he disown us? Will he forget us? We hope not. But we know he needs to grow up and leave the nest. The Bull Run Run does not belong to those who created and nurtured it. It belongs to the runners of today who enjoy it. It is in good hands.
It's Sunday and it's raining. BRR would not have been fun today. We have really been lucky with weather at Bull Run Run. We were again this year. April is a cruel month, tantalizing us with the end of winter and then slamming us down with rain, cold, and misery. But April has been kind to the Bull Run Run. The runners and volunteers have been kind to the event. It's a good thing. We will see you next year (assuming you didn't drop any liter!)
Popes Head Creek as it raged through Clifton on Sunday, April 15
Virginia Happy Trails Running Club
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