I always look forward to the annual Virginia Happy Trails "Fat Ass" run as a low key, end the year run to connect with folks in a non competitive setting. This year's version, Patpela Ananit, (New Guinean for fat ass) had all the qualities of a festive event: fresh bagels and coffee at the start, beautiful day, gorgeous course, and pizza at the end. My only non negotiable rule is starting on time (unlike $unmart our major competition). The other goal is to clean out the club coffers, (keeping the IRS from the door) and give back to runners and volunteers for their hard work. All the above was accomplished.
However, as the day unfolded a distinct subplot emerged: perseverance. It first became evident when Derrick Carr, the winner, emerged from the woods. After a performance at Angeles Crest, that can only be characterized as disappointing, he could have stayed at home and licked his wounds. Instead he has doubled his training and is focusing on conquering AC in 2000. In a word perseverance, and a modern course record for our winter classic.
To earn the long term perseverance award Ed Demoney ran his 100th ultra. He decided to forgo $unmart (our major competition) and run his 100th ultra in the shadow of his beloved Massanutten Mountains. Yes, the shadows are very long in December. Over the last ten years Ed has been beset with more running injuries than the number of times Scott Mills has been rejected by Western $tates. Still, Ed ran on, or more precisely, walked, limped, and hobbled. He has persevered. Today he ran a strong race. Ed is back!
We all know what it is like to be knocked down, disappointed, falling short of our goals. Derrick and Ed know the commitment it takes to look the horse in the eye and climb back on. What of those who have never run an ultra? How do you persevere into the unknown and the untrodden? Sharley Simpson and Kathy Hawk know. The young first timers looked into the fog of uncertainty about running miles past anything they had done before. If you do not try, if you do not start, you can not persevere. They took that step, and many more, to run side by side for 31 miles to the finish.
I can not mention all the runners who looked adversity in the eye today and did not blink. You know who you are. I'm proud of you. Congratulations.