Tom Nielsen and Bethany
Hunter finished what they started this weekend – winning the
ninth-annual Massanutten Mountain Trails 100-Mile Run – and
they did it despite torrential downpours, thunder, lightening and
possibly even hail.
The ultra-marathon is
sponsored by the Northern Virginia-based Virginia Happy Trails
Running Club and it’s hosted by Warren County’s Skyline
Ranch Resort. The race is run entirely on trails in the George
Washington National Forest and this year garnered 129 entrants and
117 starters. It has a 36-hour time limit.
It began at 5 o’clock
Saturday morning in a rain that became heavier as the day wore on and
forced more than a few runners to drop out of the race prematurely.
Nielsen, 43, of
Annandale won the men’s race with a time of 21:55:30 while
Hunter, a 24-year-old from Lynchburg, was fifth overall with a time
Kane, 40, pushed Nielsen but couldn’t make up time lost during
the stretch between Gap Creek and the national forest Visitor’s
Center, east of New Market. By the time Kane reached the center he
was 26 minutes behind the men’s leader but managed to cut the
deficit to finish just 5:23 behind the winner.
Hunter too was pressed
at the finish by second-place Sue Johnston, 37, but maintained her
advantage with the help of ultra legend David Horton, who served as
her pacer through the dark hours. Horton, also from Lynchburg, holds
the third-best time for running across the United States and also has
run the entire Appalachian Trail.
Johnston, of Waterford,
Vt., shadowed Hunter for much of the race until she fell behind
during the 2.8-mile stretch between Moreland and Edinburg gaps,
falling from nine minutes off the pace to 18 minutes. She more than
made up for it during the next 8.4-mile stretch to Woodstock Tower
gaining all but six minutes.
But Hunter still
appeared fresh and that, ultimately proved to be Johnston’s
Taking third among the
men and women respectively were Evan Sandt, a 33-year-old from
Lancaster, Pa., (3rd overall) and Deb Pero, 48, of Jaffrey, N.H.
The top local runner to
finish was Woodstock’s Kevin Black, 43, who posted his best
time ever to finish 10th overall.
Richard Kerby, 41, of
Berryville did well in his first 100-miler, finishing 19th overall
while Woodstock’s Amber Marshall, 24, and husband Roy, 47, ran
together the entire way to finish in a tie for 34th place.
Whitehead, 27, of Winchester finished in 55th place, while
Bayse’s Larry Friedenberg, 42, who also completed his first
ultra, finished in 62nd place.
Two other local runners
failed to finish.
Walsh, 47, dropped at Camp Roosevelt, while Fort Valley’s Jean
Heishman, 45, dropped out at Bird Knob. A total of 44 runners quit
the race, including 22 at the visitor station aid station, during the
height of the storm.
Chuck Jackson is a free
lance writer living in Maurertown, Virginia. This article originally
appeared in the May 12, 2003 edition of the Northern Virginia Daily,
Virginia Happy Trails Running Club
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