Promise Land 50k

April 26, 2003
Big Island, Virginia

By Tom Corris

“A BEAR!!! Look Marty!!! IT’S A BEAR!!!” Ok so maybe she wasn’t quite as excited as I was but it was definitely worth waking her up for……right Marty? I’m not sure why I get so fired up every time I see one, but I really do. Such a powerful animal. Hopefully though, the next time that one wants to cross the 211 Highway, it’ll remember to look both ways…..unlike the opossums.

Tom in the Massanutten MtsSeeing the bear really capped off another great day in the mountains. We were heading back from Big Island Va., the site of David Horton’s second race in Lynchburg Ultra Series, the Promise Land 50k. This was the third running of the event, said to be one of the most difficult 50k runs in the country. I can tell you that it certainly is one of the most beautiful runs I have ever done. The course is a nice mix of gravel roads, grass covered fire roads, and single track which takes you up and over the Blue Ridge Parkway and then just for fun, takes you up and over again. In the process you have the opportunity to look out over some magnificent valleys and mountain ranges which on Saturday were completely shrouded in fog so we didn’t see squat, but you get the idea. The end result is a wonderful run with about 8000 feet of ups and who knows how many feet of downs. I think the most spectacular section has to be Apple Orchard Falls at about mile 24. The size and grandeur of the waterfall is truly breath taking…..and so is the bloody climb out of there. This alone was worth the drive and price of admission.

Finally, you know on those very rare occasions when all of the planets seem to line up just right and collectively induce in us one of those brief moments of complete shock and awe? Well I was most fortunate to experience one of those delusional events on Saturday some where around mile 20. As I was motoring along, I happened to look down the trail and much to my delight, directly in front of me, were two of ultrarunning’s greatest runners; Sean Andrish and Deb Pero. I was momentarily speechless…..ok make that thoughtless. And then it dawned on me, “ Oh my God! I must be in THIRD place!!”

Next stop, Massanutten…….…gulp………and this must have been written sometime after Short Mountain:

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep. – Robert Frost

Tom Corris

Virginia Happy Trails Running Club
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