A Defense of John Dodds

Massanutten Mountain Trails 100
May 8-9, 2004

by Jaret Seiberg

Jaret coming into Camp RooseveltNever has one done more work for less than a minute.

That's right. I finished MMT nearly one minute faster than last year. Over the course of 101.8 miles, I managed to complete the run 55 seconds better.

But I get ahead of myself.

I never intended to run MMT this year, let alone do it 55 seconds faster. I had promised my very pregnant wife that I would not make any more overnight running trips after May 1. I even signed up for Promise Land with the intent that it would be my final pre-baby out-of-town run.

Then I realized MMT was in early May. Really early in May. In fact, it was so early in May than it might as well be April. And given that I was already doing running trips in April, what difference would one more make.

Yet I had this problem. MMT was not really in April. It only seemed that way. So I had to find a way to convince my wife May 7, 8, and 9 were really in April. Mike Bur tried to give me advice on this. But let’s face it. He’s not married and really has no expertise in this area.

So I turned to the masters: Bob Coyne and Ed Schultz. Bob goes on these insane trips where he disappears for weeks at a time to climb mountains where people regularly die from lack of oxygen. Then he comes home and buys his wife a new kitchen.

Ed does not disappear quite as much. Yet he does seem to do more big ultras and other running events than anyone I know. He pretty much leads a Greenway trail run every day of the week. And he’s remained married.

Bob was of little help. He basically suggested I do the run and then come home and figure out what type of home remodeling project she wanted done. That sounded dangerously expensive.

Ed was a bit better. He suggested I surprise my wife unexpectedly with gifts. Then use the brownie points earned from that to suggest that I was going to do MMT. He said I needed to just slip it into conversation as an already agreed upon decision.

So for Valentines Day, I upped the present ante by getting her some nice jewelry. That was followed by running out to get Krispy Kreme donuts when she was having one of those pregnancy food cravings. Other smaller gestures followed, such as a nice dinner out the night before the Fairfax Cross County run rather than the simple pre-run meal I would have preferred.

Still, I knew that would not be enough and I thought my MMT plans were doomed. Then divine intervention occurred. My wife got a promotion at work and needed to go to Chicago for five days.

Given that she would be gone for five days, it was hard to object to me disappearing for two days. Plus I arranged to import my mom for the weekend to help. (Yes, my mom is really a big help. She’s not the stereotypical mother-in-law.)

Before I knew it, I had filled out the application and was entered. My wife only later realized that it conflicted with Mother’s Day weekend. But by then, it was too late.

Now that I was running, I needed to find a pacer.

I figured everyone would already have grabbed up all the pacers. But then I heard that John Dodds might be pacing Kerry Owens, who actually had an entire other support/pacing system set up.

Selecting Dodds could be dangerous. Few have a quicker wit on the keyboard then John, whose race reports are legendary. Spending 15 hours with him on trail certainly could give him lots of material on me.

Yet that was really a minor concern. What really worried me was John’s chaffing problem. Some may recall that at MMT 2002 John removed his pants to run from Woodstock to the finish because of chaffing. What if he was similarly afflicted?

Despite these worries, I asked John to pace. He eventually agreed after going through a laborious process of ensuring that Kerry did not need his pacing services.

The pre-race day included dinner at Jalisco’s and some whitewater rafting in downtown Front Royal where the road suddenly became a raging river. The Scottish Inn is a classy joint. I asked for a 3:45 am wake-up call. The woman at the front desk brought me an alarm clock instead.

Fueled with a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit sandwich and coffee, I checked in with Bill "The Grim Reaper" Antwerp and then went downstairs to find the start line. I was talking with other runners and did not even realize the race had started, but off I was. Ran the first section with Gary Knipling. Then Mike Broderick and I pretty much ran together until the top of Bird Knob.

At that point, my day turned south. I got very lightheaded, probably from a combination of allergies and electrolyte imbalances. Yet I still made it into 211 East not far behind Mike. At that point, Dodds joined me for the remaining 45 or so miles.

Jaret in Edinburg Aid StationDodds was a great pacer. I know many may not believe me, but he kept the conversation going when I wanted to talk and was quiet when I needed peace. I had a real problem on Short Mountain when my lightheadedness turned into dizziness. That is when Sue Baehre temporarily passed me. Then Gary Knipling passed me. I told Dodds to join Gary because I was moving too slow to make this fun for him. Being a real pacer, he did not bail on me, something for which I am quite thankful.

About two-thirds across Short Mountain, I started to feel a bit better and began power walking. Then I ran the downhills, passing Sue.

Powell Mountain went better, though I was still moving much slower than I wanted. Leaving Powell, the dizziness was gone and I was much less lightheaded. I still had some running issues, but I was power walking pretty fast.

Kerry Owens caught me at this point and we either ran together or leapfrogged each other most of the rest of the way. At Powells, I grabbed a sandwich and left. Dodds is yelling after me that he had not gotten food yet. I felt like a slower-moving version of Russ Evans, whom Dodds had previously complained often left him wallowing at the aid stations.

That actually gave me a boost out of Powell’s. Kerry and I moved pretty well around the reservoir and up the Bear Wallow trail. We found a very shocked Gary Knipling at the top, who thought we were 30 minutes behind him. We briefly passed him, before he took off down the hill.

Kerry gave Gary chase, but I lagged behind. Figured I had one big push left in my legs and I wanted it for the Shawl Gap downhill to the finish. Spent little time at Elizabeth Furnace and moved quickly up Shawl. I passed Kerry on the downhill and figured there was a very slim chance of finding Gary.

Instead I encountered Vicki and Joyce in the woods. Vicki yells out "Here she comes," thinking that either myself or Dodds were Kerry. No offense to Vicki, who had been awake for a very long time and had been all over the course, but both John and I have very short hair. Kerry has very long hair. We really don’t look alike.

But I digress. The advantage of running 101.2 miles at that point is you can pretty much get away with anything. I proved that.

"You bitch," was my very un-PC response. "Gee I run 101 miles I don’t even get any respect."

Of course I meant it in jest and fortunately Vicki took it that way. Still, I’m not sure I’ll use quite those same words again. Not everyone could be as understanding as Vicki. (My plan had been to blame Dodds if she was mad at me. Fortunately, that was no necessary.)

Soon afterwards, I hit the grass field and ran to the finish in 29:02:30, besting my time last year of 29:03:25.

At this rate, I’m going to have to run MMT three more times to break 29 hours. Oh well. What else is there to do on Mother’s Day?

Thank you to Stan, Anstr, Scott, Vicki, Bunny, Valerie, and all other volunteers. You make this race great.

MMT 2004 Report | MMT Home Page

Jaret leaves Camp Roosevelt. John Dodds at right.
Jaret leaves Camp Roosevelt. John Dodds at right.

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