By Charlie Miracle
(Photos by Dan Lehmann
and used with his permission
Many more pictures.)
(The author takes full responsibility for the descriptions below – any resemblance to actual events which might have occurred in WVA is purely coincidental – the names changed to protect the guilty)
A small but intrepid band of VHTRC runners braved the perils of I-66 West (at least most of us did) and headed out the weekend of 8/12 to represent the VHTRC at the first annual (hosted by the West (by God) Virginia Mountain Trail Runners) WVMTR/VHTRC joint North Fork Mountain Trail (NFMT) Run. The run itself has an illustrious history, but this is the first year we’ve been officially invited (reciprocating for our invitation to the Rivanna Ring run). Dan Lehmann and the WVMTR were gracious hosts and promised less mud that the Rivanna Ring. For those of you who know Dan and have run Highland Sky, - imagine my skepticism about the mud!
The whole weekend was a learning experience for all of us. I headed out of NoVA with Betty, Caroline and Vicki in the Explorer (is that prima facie evidence for entry into the “Next Year I’m Not Gonna Do Anything Stupid” award running?). Surprisingly, that turned out to be not such a bad drive, a little over three hours, only one ice cream stop (guess who precipitated that?), and I emerged from the truck largely unscathed. We were greeted at the campsite by Dan, a bunch of WVTRs, Graham and Dru, and a whole passel of Findleys – almost more Findleys than we had VHTRC reps altogether! It was HOT and it looked like we were in for a muggy weekend.
After we got the tents up, we settled in doing what we at the VHTRC do best – drinking beer and eating salty carbs! I was surprised when none of the WVMTRs joined us – after all, we had extra chairs under the shade and a cooler nearby. Fearing that the local primitives didn’t quite understand this sort of uber-civilized behavior (I was thinking we might need a few Hokies to run interference) – I graciously invited them to join in. Seems they were doing something they quaintly referred to as “fixin supper.” Finally one of the more venturesome among them (Dan?) ventured closer – and boy did they finally take to civilized behavior! They got so into it, we even had a lovely black and tan ale at the end of the run – who would have imagined such a thing in WVA!! Well, turns out these folks in WVA were pretty good at this “fixin supper” thing. We had plenty of pasta and sauce (even some shi-shi pasta sauce from NVA – that other VA – mixed in) and much, much more. The natives finally settled later in the evening as we had a run the next morning.
Bright and early Saturday, things began to pick-up. Dan had coffee waiting – real coffee, just like you get at Greenberrys – made the coffee bags I brought seem, well, uncultured. We were ferried to the race start by a group of volunteers. You gotta love this run – they DRIVE you up onto the ridge line, and then you run along it and finally down – no one in NoVA would ever think about doing that – are these guys awesome hosts or what! The trail was great, rolling with some nice climbs and some very runnable downhills – and a few not so runnable, but the VIEWS, they were spectacular throughout. The first “half” of the run was nice - in the cool of the morning. Did I mention that Dan Lehmann set up this run – and something about skepticism? Well, turns out there’re “Horton miles” and there’s “Lehmann math.” You know how in WVA they don’t do switchbacks, well they (or at least some of them) don’t do math much either. The first “half” was about 11 miles and some change as Dan later admitted – Michelle, she’s from MD, they apparently do math in MD, called it 10.5 miles. Well, we got to the “half”way aid station, tanked up, ate a bit, and then moved on. The intelligent ones among us refilled our bottles and bladders – we’re not all rocket scientists – ok, test engineers (did I mention that Corris showed up that morning to give the WVMTR studs a run for their money?). Some of us (not mentioning any names here) didn’t fully refill, and some of us just plain ran out of water despite refilling. The weather got HOT, and the going got tougher. You can’t really blame the trail – sure it had some uphill and some rocks, but did I say it was HOT, and many folks ran out of water – and it was HOT. For this reporter, the beginnings of dehydration kept me from enjoying the long downhill that ended the run. And it wasn’t just me! I don’t usually pass folks when I run, particularly toward the end, but I did in WVA. Jody was gracious enough to give me some of her water as I trudged past – I mentioned what great hosts the Lehmanns were, right? And at the end, Dan and other WVMTRs were waiting with cold Gatorade, cold water, and COLD BEER! Are these people great or what! Graham came limping in, and then Ed - we sat around for a bit and then headed down to the river to lounge in the water and recoup.
Meanwhile, back at the campsite, we found the speedsters and other campers and volunteers waiting. Betty and Joyce and a whole slew of Fendleys had climbed Seneca Rocks while we were out lolly-gagging down the NFMT – braver folk than I am. There was a feast that soon materialized – we ate our fill – thanked our hosts – and then a bunch of us headed back to civilization.
What a great way to spend a weekend – a great run, great food, and a great group of West Virginia Mountain Trail Runners (they sure picked up quick on the beer drinking thing) – thanks to Dan and Jody and all the crew!!
You can see some pics and other views of the weekend’s events at the WVMTR News Page