And it was a literal gang out there for Vicki's Death March on the trails of Shenandoah National Park on November 29 - 29 running humans and two running dogs showed for the 7am start out of the Old Rag parking lot. Or the 7:12 start, due to an abundance of group photo ops and a lack of decisive leadership by the organizer in getting the Death Marchers moving out of the lot and in the direction of the trails . . .
As is customary at Vicki's, within the first mile the overall group splintered into a number of subgroups, which then took off in different directions, ultimately to all make it back to the cars by 2 p.m. having completed a wide array of different distances and courses. These groups would often come across one another, and trade off runners.
It was a gorgeous day, the best we have experienced in the five years we have held the Death March. Not a cloud in the sky, and temps probably in the 30s - all of the landmark sections of the course were showing at their best: a number of folks scaled Old Rag (in fact, Debbie Shaffer got out there early and saw a perfect sunrise from the summit); the waterfalls in White Oak Canyon were running high and sparkling in the early morning light; and the views from outcroppings like Hawksbill, Stony Man and Little Stony Man overlooking the Page Valley and the Massanuttens were clear and spectacular. There was a thin crust of snow in some sections at the higher elevations, and a few icy patches in shady areas along the Appalachian Trail section, but overall a dry course that made for some fun running.
Ted Lapkoff and Gary Knipling were kind enough to serve as a roving aid station along Skyline Drive, and Ted and Sharon Lapkoff also provided two birthday cakes for the eponymous Vicki, which provided a sweet and tasty finish to the post-run festivities for the 25 or so who made their way after to Griffin's Tavern in nearby Flint Hill. Think the Griffin Tavern folks are still a little shell-shocked at what hit them in the middle of a quiet Saturday afternoon . . .
Already looking forward to doing this again on the Saturday after Thanksgiving next year! Also looking forward to getting my voice back . . .