100 mile endurance runs come to the east coast. The announcement of a 100 mile endurance run was circulated to runners early in 1979. It would be the first in the east, based on the Western States Endurance Run in California. Only 16 individual runners had completed Western States in less than 24 hours. Riders from the Old Dominion 100-Mile Endurance Ride, Inc., Leesburg, VA came up with the concept supported by sponsor Vienna Inn, Vienna, VA.
The Old Dominion Ride was organized in 1973 with its first 100 mile endurance ride taking place in 1974. In 1978 several riders traveled to Auburn, CA to participate in the Western States Ride. They spent time with both runners and run management and came away with the impression that the runners had discovered gold all over again they were so excited by the experience.
It was decided to proceed with a foot race to be held concurrently with the sixth annual ride event. The new event would provide east coast runners with the opportunity to overcome 100 miles of trail through the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Don Richardson, M.D., Boyce, VA, was the first Medical Director. Ed Ayres, editor of Running Times, was the Advisor to the Run Committee, headed by Chairman Pete Fields, Charlotte Hall, MD. Pete Fields was also the Run Manager with his wife, Beverly, the Run Secretary. The course was to be marked by double streamers of surveyors ribbon with aid every 10 miles for the first 30 and every five miles thereafter. Entry fee was a modest $25. Competitors finishing under 24 hours received a sterling silver buckle with runners permitted to continue up to 30 hours for a commemorative plaque.
The course began at the Morven Park Historic Mansion on an estate on the outskirts of Leesburg, VA. The cross-country route followed forest trails, farmlands and country roads. The trail crossed many of the routes used by George Washington as he surveyed the land around Leesburg and the Shenandoah Valley. Mosbyís Raiders had traveled the countryside during the Civil War.
Circling west, the trail climbed to the Blue Ridge Mountains, crossed the Appalachian Trail and descended into Clarke County, VA. Swinging back east at Calmes Neck, a wooded peninsula on the Shenandoah River, it recrossed the Blue Ridge at Mt. Weather before proceeding through Bloomfield, Philomont and Mt. Gilead to the finish at Morven Park.
Procedures for the endurance run were much the same then as they are now, briefings, limited medical exams, crews, drop-bags, and the admonition against littering. The run started about 4:15 a.m. preceded by the traditional blessing of the event.
Medical control stations were located at 31, 50, 60 and 88 miles. Weight loss was the most important issue with close scrutiny of a runnerís physical condition at weight losses of 5 and 7 percent of body weight.
Both riders and runners competed in the 1979 OD 100. Runners finishing in less than 24 hours outnumbered riders 18 to 17. In addition, four runners finished in less than 30 hours. Another 42 riders finished the 50-mile endurance ride in less than 12 hours.
The Old Dominion Rideís President Wayne Botts proclaimed "our experiment of adding the 100-mile run to our 100-mile endurance and 50-mile endurance ride was an instant classic event. A total success." The June 1979 OD Newsletter also reported memorable comments including that of Ray Krolewicz, "After I sprained my ankle, I started getting depressed until I remembered what the minister said at the blessing of the runners before the race, ĎTune in to your surroundings,í so I did and it was beautiful and thatís how I finished. Wait Ďtill next year!"
Krolewicz came to win and led until about 70 miles despite a sprained ligament in his ankle at 45 miles. Told he would have permanent damage if he continued to run, Ray walked the last 28 miles but still finished ninth.
The Loudoun Times-Mirror reported on the event in its June 14, 1979 edition:
"Larry Kanavy of Pennsylvania was first among 33 riders, finishing the 100-mile ride in 14:23 setting a new course record on Charge Cindy, a horse his wife (Valerie) trained. Kanavy also received the Old Dominion Trophy, presented to the best conditioned horse in the ride."
Peter Monahan, Bethesda, MD, age 44, was first to finish of the 45 starters. Pete said it was "the most memorable race Iíve run in the past four years," winning in a time of 17:56. Reporter Tom Carnes noted, "But winners and losers arenít very important in this sport Ė itís man against nature, and against oneís own body, and the victory comes in completing the course, no matter how many have finished before you."
There was one woman finisher out of the two starters. Barbara Allen, Richmond, VA, finished tenth with a time of 22:13. Don Heimiller, age 48, was the oldest finisher, in 16th place with a time of 23:17. Two older starters, ages 49 and 58, dropped after completing about 55 miles.
There was a banquet Sunday night for awards presentation. Considering the activities on Saturday, it was noticeable that runners had great difficulty walking while riders suffered when sitting down.
There was substantial concern about the weather forecast. Consideration was given to canceling the run because of the predicted high temperature and humidity. But the show went on with proper warnings to all runners. It turned out to be a brutally hot day, reaching nearly 90 degrees, with oppressive humidity. Runners managed well, but there were more injuries to horses than the previous year, another hot and humid day.
It was my good fortune to be able to finish my first 100 miler, and under 24 hours. The first Old Dominion 100 was a great mystery to almost all of the starters, only two of which had ever run 100 miles. On a personal basis it was a great adventure, a giant leap into the unknown after running 10 marathons and one 50K fun run since 1976. I did not treat the event casually, was prepared, trained (averaging 75 miles per week in 1979), and had a plan and support crew headed by my wife Rosalie, daughter Lisa and Lisaís high school classmate Rick.
The pre-race briefing included advice not to drink too sweet liquids and avoid salt tablets. There were short talks by John Purdy, who had finished Western States, and Bill Lawder who previously had run 100 miles at Flushing, NY, on a flat, 44 loop course. Dr. Richardson commented that the American College of Sports Medicine had advised them to cancel the run in view of the anticipated heat and humidity, but this frank outlook failed to discourage anyone from starting.
It is about a mile out of Morven Park Estate to a public road. When the front runners reached the exit from Morven Park they turned left, the wrong way, and proceeded in the wrong direction. I knew they were going the wrong way but had great difficulty in turning right even though I had run the proper way the previous day. So two new found friends and I briefly led the race. It didnít last long as the front runners soon discovered their mistake.
A second major problem occurred after we passed through the town of Waterford where there was a fork where a gravel road went off to the right while the main road continued across a bridge and ahead. The other runners were spread out on the other side of the bridge. I looked down the right fork but could not see any yellow and white streamers. Neither could I see them ahead. Rather than investigate the right fork, I followed the pack, thinking that they were not a particularly good group to be following. I was right.
Shortly I noticed runners fairly far ahead had stopped, were getting into vehicles and heading back. The drivers said they would return for us and they did. About 15 runners took the wrong turn. It turned out the first streamer on the right road had been blown by the wind into the ubiquitous honey-suckle, with its yellow and while blossoms, along the fence line. I probably got in an extra mile and lost 10 to 15 minutes.
It was more than two hours before we reached the first cross-country section of the course. Pit crew areas were congested due to both rider and runner pit crews. We ran across open fields, up and down hills, and through woods with planted fields around us. Some of the farmers were there, providing refreshments and making sure the gates were open for us. As we followed the trails, which were often muddy and sometimes involved stream crossings, it was often necessary to pause and look for streamers. It was not hard to get off the trails. There were even cows around on occasion. The terrain reminded me of Rosalieís farm back in northwest Iowa.
I was truly having a wonderful experience at the 31.4 mile aid station, Luhrís Grass Roots Farm, a major medical control point. Leaving Luhrís the countryside was lush with the Blue Ridge Mountains beautiful in the distance. I was running down fence lines, along streams, across fields alive with colorful flowers and viewing rural homes with gardens and flower beds that looked like they had been manicured for the endurance ride and run. I was in a state of euphoria mentally and spiritually but tried not to get carried away with the long miles waiting ahead.
Naturally there is always something to disturb serenity. In this case, on entering the forest, it was damnable flies. They proved to be annoying even on the AT, in this case a hard surface road since changed to a single track trail. At least the first half of the OD 100, best as I could determine, had gone well over 9 or more hours. The second half would not be as much fun.
As we approached Calmes Neck, on the Shenandoah River and 56.6 miles into the OD, I met Fred Pilon who I was destined to finish with back at Morven Park. We were encouraged to take a swim in the river. I declined but did take advantage of the opportunity to sit down, rest, eat, wash my legs and soak my feet. I had way too much to eat but the cantaloupe has never tasted better. At this point I was just over 10 hours on the trail and in 9th place; there were no serious problems and no excuses not to continue.
Al Kubeluis, a fellow Federal Reserve Board employee, unexpectedly showed up on the Calmes Neck road, out bound. He was enthusiastic about my progress, not exactly how I felt, but helped provide incentive to just keep going. With Al there for cheering up and inspiration, Fred Pilon to talk to, and pit crew support, the adventure continued. Slowly but surely I was reviving following down moments after Calmes Neck.
The next big aid station was Mt. Weather, followed by a long downhill to Trapp. Lisa and Rick were a welcome sight and I was able to tell them that I was now in 7th place. They had just had an encounter with a skunk and seemed to be in good spirits.
Hibbs Bridge, 80 miles, was the last major aid station. I realized I did not know where the trail went off the road and ran hard to catch Fred for needed support. Even with Fredís help we had great difficulty following the trail, crossing a major stream without locating the bridge and suffering from stinging nettles and poison ivy. But we managed.
After finally reaching a road I was fortunate that my pit crew was able to precede me and keep me moving. Fred had been over the last part of the run which was helpful. We had one more cross-country portion, and I was barely able to climb back to the road. Barbara Allen passed us in the last mile, not running well but running. Fred and I agreed to cheer her on rather than start running again.
Near the finish line, Fred urged me to accompany him as we ran to the finish. My feet were sore and blistered. I was sure I needed major medical attention but the doctor indicated no big deal and no sympathy. Suffering continued at home, and running was discontinued for a couple weeks. But mentally I enjoyed a remarkable calmness within me and a great feeling of self-esteem.
My thoughts after finishing and recovering. Now Iíve accomplished my mission. Iíve run across those meadows filled with wildflowers. Iíve been up and down the mountains. Iíve been through the forest. Iíve seen the Shenandoah and the fords. Iíve seen the other runners and riders and know what they know. Iíve run from darkness into daytime, through the heat of the day and back into the coolness of evening and obscurity of night time, even with a full moon. Despite the pain that followed, the bottom line was enjoyment and self-esteem which seem to grow greater as time passes by. The only question remaining is whether or not to do it again. There would be the good chance of not even finishing, unfortunately, but there would be an even better chance of a PR and an outside chance of finishing up there with the leaders. If I never do it again, Iíll still have the memory and the fun of having had my adventure.
Medical note. Dr. John Kendall, age 45, from Burlington, Ontario, finished fifth with a time of 19:29. As he left Calmes Neck (56 miles) about 2:30 p.m. he noticed his hands were severely swollen. Elvio Levri had a similar problem at the same place. Dr. Kendall said he developed some of the symptoms of dehydration and hyperthermia and thought there was no question but that many of the runners became hyperthermic in the exposed area on the road after Calmes Neck.
It was interesting that there was little weight loss among the runners. Dr. Kendall thought the fluid in his hands was not in his circulating blood. The swelling went away after getting out of the sun and into cooler weather and was almost gone by the time he finished.
I weighed myself when I returned home and weighed exactly the same as when I left for OD. Before weighing I had extensive urination and over the next six hours I lost almost five pounds, all from urination.
Old Dominion Cross-Country Endurance Run Ė June 14-15, 1980
Few changes were made for the second OD 100. The OD Ride Board did set a qualification standard with runners required to have completed a 50 mile organized run in 10 hours or less since June 1979. Almost all 50 milers were road events so the 10 hour finishing time was not unreasonable in 1980.
The OD Ride considered education as important mission of the organization and held a distance riding seminar program on March 29, 1980. Cross-country running was part of the seminar. Topics covered for runners included:
Interestingly, there were the same number of starters, 45, as the first OD 100; however, only 20 finished with 17 under 24 hours. Eight runners could now claim running both OD 100s, while three became finishers on their second attempt. Among the new finishers were David Horton (21:45) and Ernest (29:40) and Sue Medaglia (22:08 and first woman) of two women starters.
Frank Bozanich, 36, Bothell, Washington, was first to finish with a blazing 15:17, nearly an hour ahead of Bob Harper (16:12). Pete Fields went back to his true love, riding, and was the fourth to finish the 100-mile route; however, he won the rideís most prestigious honors, The Old Dominion and the Calvary Awards. Calvary competitors received no aid during the entire event. Fifteen out of 36 riders finished 100 miles. Thirty of 42 riders finished 50 miles. Linda Crandell, West River, MD, was first to finish 100 miles with a time of 14:12.
According to the Loudoun Times-Mirror, "controversy developed at the completion of this yearís ride when several riders who completed the 100 miles were scratched from competition due to lameness and others who also finished withdrew their entries as a protest to the rideís rule that horses must successfully pass a Sunday morning vet check.
Old Dominion rules state that while all horses to finish must pass a vet check immediately upon the rideís completion, they must also be in condition suitable to successfully pass another check the following morning. Although veterinarians examining horses expect Ďsome degree of stiffnessí as head veterinarian Dr. Jack Howard of Leesburg said, horses must be serviceably sound and in other ways fit enough to be passed as suitable to continue the following morning...
ĎOur philosophy is strict veterinary control in order not to abuse the horse and emphasis on total performance,í said Pat Horrocks of Leesburg, who served as this yearís ride manager. The Old Dominion is the only ride of this type to include rules for an additional vet check after the finish line check Horrocks said."
The Old Dominion Ride organization experienced significant changes in leadership at its annual general meeting, October 4, 1980, resulting in new officers and a move from Leesburg to the Front Royal/Fort Valley region of Virginia. Some of the issues were regional growth including a trend towards turning gravel roads into hard surface roads plus difficult relationships with some landowners on the 100 mile course. There were also concerns about AERC sanctioning due to competitive conditions.
Reasons for the move westward included an expanded 4H Center outside of Front Royal, the center having excellent facilities for horses and administrative purposes. In addition the George Washington National Forest was nearby and available. The new course would be more demanding and include more trails. The ride course included McCoyís Ford, an opportunity for horses to ford the Shenandoah River. Runners had a slightly different course and did not ford the river for several years but riders and runners were on basically the same course and used the same aid stations with the start/finish at the 4H Center.
Not all of the Old Dominion Ride members were happy with the move. They continued to have a 100 mile ride out of Leesburg for several years but the main group of riders and runners flourished in Fort Valley. Interestingly, the riders moved farther west in 2008 with the ride now originating in Orkney Springs, Virginia.
Finishers of the first two OD 100s are below.
|Old Dominion||06/09/79||Old Dominion||06/14/80|
|Peter Monahan||17:56:46||Frank Bozanich||15:17:22|
|Paul Appell||17:57:45||Bob Harper||16:12:21|
|Don Krueger||18:26:30||Bill Lawder||17:55:50|
|William Lawder||18:52:56||Ed Foley||18:30:54|
|John Kendall||19:29:49||Sabin Snow||19:04:45|
|Elvio Levri||21:06:23||Fred Pilon||19:48:37|
|Richard Sitter||21:12:52||Elvio Levri||20:48:36|
|Sabin Snow||21:12:52||Phil Bishop||20:50:27|
|Raymond Krolewicz||21:16:30||Rusty Donahue||20:51:40|
|Barbara Allen||22:13:32||David Horton||21:45:46|
|Edwin Demoney||22:18:34||Sue Medaglia||22:08:17|
|Fred Pilon||22:18:34||Richard Sitter||22:28:10|
|George Navadel||23:10:27||Edwin Demoney||22:48:06|
|Michael Greene||23:10:29||Victor Devinatz||23:08:23|
|Gregory Schell||23:11:11||Scott Maxwell||23:09:44|
|Donald Heimiller||23:17:31||David Parcell||23:22:56|
|Ed Foley||23:44:06||Don Krueger||23:35:12|
|Eric Swanson||23:55:17||John Wallis||27:02:33|
|Johnnie Johnson||27:43:55||George Knaell||28:25:55|
|Frank MacMillan||27:43:55||Ernest Medaglia||29:40:53|
Readers wanting more information may want to consult the history of beginning of Western States on that event's Web site.