The Eagle Run is Invitational: The Eagle Run has become invitational. Unfortunately, it is no longer open to all comers. It is open, however, to the usual suspects. The following persons are invited:
The Eagle Run is the highlight of the VHTRC calendar. Gary Knipling leads us on a run through Mason Neck in search of eagles. In 2001, we spotted 33--the record. Come see if you can be part of another record-breaking year. The big question is, "Will the hot pizza show up?" There are several distances you can run from about 10 miles up to 26 or so.
Format: We will use the format that we started in 2003. After meeting at the Gunston School at 7:30, ALL cars will go to the start area. (There will be no car shuttle.) There will be two types of parking at the start: "Escape" & "Party." Parking areas will be designated with signs. If you plan to run the short distance or leave when you finish running, park in the "Escape" parking. If you don't know what the party parking is for, you probably should not come to this event.
The short version of the Eagle Run will be about 10 miles, and will end back at the start. After enjoying the pizza in the historic environs of Gunston Hall, the 10 milers will go back to the start. The long runners will go deeper into Mason Neck following Derrick, Prasad, and Keith to meander through the trails of the Mason Neck State Park and the Wildlife Refuge to make the Eagle Run a true "ultra" of 26+ miles before finding their way back to the start. Middle distance runners keep up with either Russ or Anstr from Gunston Hall to make it the the Great Marsh to see Charles County, Maryland across the Potomac. The 10 milers can have a beer or two back at the start, but the "hard partying" can't start until a runner who has seen an eagle in the Great Marsh returns home. He or she may be better received than was Phidippides!
Rules: There are a few rules for the Eagle Run. The most important thing to remember is that this is an event at Gary's house to which he has invited us. Be a good guest! Other rules:
Gary takes great pains to see that both fast and slow runners have a good time. There are a number of occasions where the faster group takes a longer way. It's all carefully orchestrated so we get back together at strategic points! We will make special efforts to have these reassemblies. Please understand that this is not a "regular" run. The fun is to share the viewing of eagles. We don't run every step together, but we do stop and reassemble. You can run fast or slow, but if you want a long, hard, fast work out or if you want a hike, this is not the event for you. Please help us keep the group together!
We stop often to observe eagles. Don't come if you get anal about interrupting your run. We are out there to see eagles, not to get in shape. You might want to bring a pair of opera glasses or light binoculars. Sometimes the eagles refuse to pose right in front of you!
Directions: We will meet at 7:30 am at the Gunston Elementary School.
From the north, take I-95 south to the Lorton Exit and turn left (east), go under the Interstate and then under the railroad tracks and go until you run into Route 1. (There are some shortcuts in there if you turn right off of Lorton Road, but the simplest way is to just keep going until you hit Route 1.) Turn right on Route 1 and go south a mile or two to Route 242, Gunston Road (there is a signal and a 7-Eleven at Gunston Road as well as signs for Pohick Bay Regional Park and Gunston Hall). Turn left (south) on Gunston Road. Gunston Elementary School is within a mile on the right side of the road.
From the south, take the Fort Belvoir/Route 1 Exit off of I-95 just after you cross the Occoquan River and go a couple of miles on Route 1 to Route 242 and turn right.
(You can also look at the map and directions to Gunston Hall. The Gunston Elementary School is about two miles before you get to Gunston Hall.)
RSVP: [Before you RSVP, please review who is invited to this invitational run at the top of this page.] Please use our VHTRC Entry Form to RSVP for this event. If you have questions, e-mail Gary at email@example.com or call him at 703-339-8196. Please RSVP by Monday, January 17. RSVP HERE | Entrants List
About the Eagle Run: The Eagle Run was created by Gary Knipling and is the result of his hospitality. Additional support for the pizza and refreshments is provided by the VHTRC. There is no entry fee, this is a party. If you want to bring something to share at the post run festivities, that would be fine, but not necessary.
Route: Our run will roam around Mason Neck and see Gunston Hall, Pohick Bay Regional Park, Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge, and the Mason Neck State Park. Here is a PATC trail map of the wildlife refuge portion of the run (warning, it's a big file!). Gunston Hall was the home of George Mason who drafted the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which was adopted on June 12, 1776, and was the basis for the Declaration of Independence.
Eagle Resources: The eagle is an incredible bird. Here are is a web page with eagle information and here is the Raptor Center Page. Also, be sure to see the photos by VHTRC Idaho-based member Bill VanAntwerp.
George Mason: At Gunston Hall, they are quite proud of this George, and emphasize his importance in the founding of the United States. He said:
"...I opposed, to the utmost of my Power, all violent Measures [against Britain], & such as might shut the Door to it; but when Reconciliation became a lost Hope, when unconditional Submission, or effectual Resistance, were the only Alternatives left us, when the last dutiful & humble petition from Congress received no other Answer than declaring us Rebels, and out of the King's protection, I from that Moment look'd forward to a Revolution & Independence, as the only means of Salvation; and will risque the last Penny of my Fortune, & the last Drop of my Blood upon the Issue..."
Other Events on Eagle Run Sunday: Several other groups have tried to exploit the popularity of this run and schedule their events on Eagle Run Sunday. For many years, the NFL sought to schedule the Superbowl on Eagle Run Sunday. After the 2003 Eagle Run undermined the ratings for the Superbowl, the NFL has moved the game to the next week. Given the popularity of the Eagle Run, there are now few other events scheduled on Eagle Run Sunday. It is sort of like a national holiday.
Gary Knipling in Pre-run Briefing with Assistant Joe Clapper