Massive Nothing

Massanutten Mountain Trails 100
May 8-9, 2004

by Rich Limacher


Why do I sit here shell-shocked in my freaking seat thinking that I just got back from a whole week's worth of time travel to The Stone Age?


Because that's exactly where I've been!

I have been to the Massive Nothing Mountin' & Hurtin' 100-Mile (for some) Kinda Footrace. To the best of my knowledge, this event took place in the Pleistocene Epoch. Maybe One Million Years, B.C.! But... you can bet your sweet bippies that Raquel Welch was NOT wearing any skimpy bikini or little fur booties. No, she probably Did Not Start or else got smart and stayed in the cave.

Here's what probably happened, although of course this is just IMHO and not at all based on anything scientific, or biblical, or even good ultrarunning:

The Deity sat on a rock... and got inspired.

"I KNOW!" spake the One. "First there shall be light, and then there shall be heavy. We shall create two earths: Earth Lite and Earth on the Rocks. Then," the Deity continuedeth, "the latter shall be dumped out and emptied upon the former. It shall be considered virgin territory, or Virginia, and the name of this work shalt be henceforth forever entitledeth: The Massanutten Mountain Trails."

"Heh-heh-heh," the One chuckled to Themselves, "TRAILS!!!"

And so it chanced to pass, umpteen and boucou millennia later, our non-hero Little Putzy suddenly also became inspired. He thought, "Hmmm, I've never done Massive Nothing before. Might just as well fly there and knock that thing off in my spare time."

"Besides," he reasoned (having been recently tempted to join this here "50 States and DC" marathon and/or beyond thingamajigy), "I still need Virginia."

Thus, armed with the invitation of a good buddy who lives there (or close to there or, nah, over four hours away from there in heavy traffic--causing us to completely miss the briefing), our little anti-hero Putzive finally put up the Chutzpah to journey thither, and thence to partake his place upon the starting line... and the rest, as they foretold in the bible movie, is history.

And here is his story: (intact and in keeping with the spirit of the original) "Veni, visi, victatus sum." (Translated now by the Esteemian estoned classics scholar Professor U. Gottabekiddingme:) "I came, I saw, I got my ass kicked."

And following my bitterly embattled DNF at (or before) Powell's Fort, I told Mike, my buddy and host-with-the-least for the weekend: "Mike," I said, "let me put this course into perspective for you. You've not done Hardrock yet, but let me assure you: You could take one or two of the highest mountains out there, blow 'em up into a billion-chillion 50-pound chunks, dump the whole mess on these Massanutten trails--and nobody would notice any difference."

You can gather, I'm guessing, I'm dissatisfied.

No! Not with the MMT course or the event or the VHTRC or their website--nah, none of that. These things are all beautiful people. What I'm actually kinda dissatisfied with... is the Deity. Heck, I thought Hell was DOWN, not East! I thought Sadam was captured already. In Iraq! I never ever imagined I'd be staring at the Prince of Darkness dead in the face for 89+ miles in Virginia--which, I'd thought, was (didn't John Denver say it was supposed to be) "Almost Heaven"???

I was completely unprepared. How could a "loving" Almighty concoct such a thing? Trails?? Gosh, here I thought all along that Barkley was the only "trail race" on Earth without trails. Turns out, that's no longer true.

Let me condense my illogic into a syllogism for you. OK. If a regular "trail" is a path in the woods where humans can run, walk, locomotate, crawl, ooze, or slide; and a Massive Nothing gap betwixt and between trees is a path where none of those things are possible; then is a Massive Nothing pathway a "trail"?

Once again, I found myself the other night explaining my absence to a co-worker.

ME: Let me try to illustrate what those Virginia mountains are like.

SHE: I'm listening.

ME: See this entire huge building we're in?

SHE: (Looking around) Yeah. So?

ME: Well now, just imagine--and I'm not hinting or advocating anything here--but let's just suppose some terrorist came along and blew the place up.

SHE: That's terrible!

ME: Yes, but illustrative!

SHE: How so?

ME: Well, think of what this place would look like after being exploded into a kajillion chunks on the ground. Rubble, right?

SHE: Yeah.

ME: OK, now pile the rubble of a billion buildings for a hundred miles and then try to imagine running over the top of it.

SHE: Whoa.

ME: See what I mean?

(After an even longer pause than the last time I used this literary device in a race report :)

SHE: You are absolutely CRAZY, Rich.

ME: Ah, I see you see what I mean.

Well, after all is said and done, what after all can I say? Here all along I thought Barkley and Hardrock were tough. Folks bitched about Massive Nothing, but secretly I *knew*: How tough CAN it be? Rocks? Heck, we got rocks in Wisconsin. That damn glacier scraped 'em all out of Canada and dumped 'em HERE back in the Stone Age. (Ice Age?) Surely, hard rockin' near D.C. couldn't possibly be any worse than stumbling through the Kettle Moraine!

Guess again.

Fiends, I'm tellin' ya, Hardrock is high, yes, but most of the time... you can walk! Barkley is impossible, yes, but most of that jungle is mud. It *is* possible to live several daze, if need be, in the mud. But trying to motivate yourself across the Stone Age rubble of a quadrillion chunks of busted biblical structures the size of the milkbox on your front porch (nah, sometimes the size of the porch!)... well, in my case, the challenge was just a tad too tough.

All of which brings me to my final (yea modest) proposal:

Trail work? Lots of ultramarathons are now starting to require runners to do a certain amount of "volunteer" work maintaining trails in order to qualify just *to enter* their events. So, how about this: I suggest for the next umpteen years that ALL ultras throughout ALL the world require this trail work to be done ONLY on the Massanutten trails. Yea, this means everybody. Ye all, who are thus willing and hence crazy, shall henceforth be required to clear rocks off of ONLY that theoretical "trail" winding its way across the annual Massive Nothing 100-Mile Crawl.

And yes, I do truly and honestly believe that, sometime within the next, oh, six dozen years or so...

...nobody will notice any difference.

Yours troubly,

Rich Limacher

Yankee Folly of the Day:
Man, we should've just let Robert E. Lee have his way. Then, thank heaven, ALL damn Yankees would still be FORBIDDEN to enter Virginia.

Scothorn Gap Trail
A Few Rocks on the MMT Course on the Scothorn Gap Trail

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