Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Mile Run

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Massanutten Mt Trails 100
2009 Report, Results, and Information

All 2009 MMT information -- including results, splits, reports, and photos -- will be linked from this page. Come back to check them out.

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Report

Mass Finish at Massanutten!

Ten runners finished together in a pack that some blamed on Gary Knipling. This is believed to be the largest mass finish in MMT history. (There are 11 people here. One was a pacer.)

Early versions of the Massanutten Mt Trails 100 were noted for their wild weather. Our comment at the time was that it was difficult to have 36 consecutive hours with no rain in Virginia in May. More recently, the weather has moderated, and we have not had the severe problems of old. That all ended at the 15th MMT.

Fifteen years is a long time to remember, so it's hard to rank this weather. There have probably been more violent storms, hotter and colder temperatures, and a wetter course. But we don't remember a prior occasion with the mix of these bad things all at the same time that we received this year.

Passage Creek
Jay Dobrowalski in Passage Creek near Elizabeth Furnace
Photo: Aaron Schwartzbard

The day started out alright. But it wasn't really even cool at the start. Quickly, it became quite hot and humid. Then the rain started. Off and on, there was rain throughout Saturday night. Then on Sunday, the rain stopped, but the temperature dropped. It was windy and cold.

One hundred and seventy-three runners braved this weather and 101 finished. It was the fourth highest attrition rate in the history of the event.

The Race - Men

Frankly, the winners of year's event were never in doubt. We have had some great mano a mano battles in the past, but not this year. Karl Meltzer had company for awhile, but pulled away to win by over two hours in 18:29:57. He ran a great race especially in the trying conditions, but he was off the event record, the record for this course, and his prior second place finish to Sim Jae Duk in 2006. This was Karl's second MMT win. Though his time was not an overall record, it is the fastest ever run by a masters runner (over 39 years old).

Alan Gowen
Alan Gowen Finishes

The race behind Karl was interesting. Todd Walker and Glen Redpath were battling all day. Glen got second (20:42:44) and Mike Mason worked his way up the field for third (20:43:04). Keith Knipling was looking bad at the Visitors Center, but came back for a strong fourth - his 10th MMT finish (22:32:48). Todd faded to seventh after course navigation issues over Shawl Gap (22:51:11).

Further back in the pack, Joe Clapper took the masters title. (We don't give two awards to the same person, so the masters award did not go to Karl.) Joe was second at the first MMT and has been around the event ever since. Even further back in the pack, Gary Knipling won his fifth super senior title. This was his 12th MMT finish. Should he finish next year, he will tie Tom Sprouse for most MMT finishes. This, by the way, was the first year MMT was held without Tom in the field.

The Race - Women

There was even less doubt about the women's race. No one could think of a woman who could challenge Amy Sproston. No one did challenge her. Leading comfortably the entire day, Amy repeated her MMT win of last year, but did it over an hour faster.

Amy Sproston
Amy Sproston within a minute of her finish.
Photo: Bobby Gill

Amy was on course record pace for awhile. As late as Moreland Gap (68 miles), she was six minutes ahead of Sue Johnston's 2005 course record. On Short Mountain, however, Amy lost 19 minutes to Sue's time. Given the weather, her time of 24:59:55 was a signficant accomplishment and is the fifth fastest woman's performance at MMT.

Sheryl Wheeler was second in 26:47:16, and was the first master. Robin Meagher was third in 26:51:15 and was the first runner under 30 years old. Vicki Kendall was fifth in a time of 28:00:24, a new record for a senior female runner. Vicki's time was one of the most talked about performances of the weekend. Partially because it would have won the overall women's division of four prior MMT's. It was also noteworthy for Vicki's pronouncement that "I will never run 100 miles."

The Jackson Division

New this year was the Stonewall Jackson Foot Cavalry Division. These were runners who would use no crew or pacer. Many MMT finishers have completed the course by themselves. Both the men's and women's course records were set by runners without crews of pacers. This year, we sought to honor them and, at the same time, reduce the number of crews.

Susan Donnelly
Susan Donnelly at Edinburg
Photo: Aaron Schwartzbard

It is likely that several signed up for this division without knowing what they were getting into. When the crew instructions were updated and it became clear that runners in this division would not receive a crew parking permit, people left the division in droves. As the rules allowed, some even dropped out of the division during the event.

Karl Meltzer won the race without crew or pacer. But since we don't give two awards to one person, the male Jackson award went to Keith Knipling.

The female award went to Susan Donnelly. Both winners were, appropriately, multiple former MMT finishers (Keith 10 times and Susan eight times).

The Event

A huge number of volunteers made MMT a great event this year. There were volunteers at many locations working throughout the weekend to help the runners attain their goals.

People volunteer for many reasons, but one is to be part of something big. We think that many people were out there not just for the runners, but for the larger event itself. MMT is bigger than any person or group. It's not only about runners. That, we believe, is the key to roping in all these folks to give up their weekends to the cause.

Moreland Gap aid station crew
Carl Newby and his crew at Moreland Gap
Photo: Carl Newby

It is quite amazing what everyone did. For example, an aid station captain's job started well before the weekend. The captains made their Costco runs, collected their gear, and worried whether they had enough. The four new aid station captains this year all made special trips to their stations before the event. Many took off work, all cooked food. The resulting aid stations had breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Quatro Hubbard noted that he had three breakfasts along the west ridge of the course. Like the runners, the aid station people were out in the rain and cold. Only they couldn't keep warm by running.

Meanwhile, Kevin Bligan and his crew were marking the course. They started on Thursday. Most marking was done on Friday. On race day, Kevin checked all the important turns and trail near roads where vandalism could occur.

Wraps at Elizabeth Furnace
Wraps at Elizabeth Furnace
Photo: Aaron Schwartzbard

At about 6 a.m., the last runner left the first aid station, and the ribbons started coming down. By Sunday night, the entire course had been swept. The result is that our markings were in the woods for, at most, three days.

But that's not all. A completely different group also dedicated it's weekend to the cause. Larry Miller and his radio crew manned the aid stations from Habron on. They communicated timely, accurate splits that were instrumental for runner accountability and for updates that went on the Internet. They did all of this in hazzardous weather weather conditions. They were very close to metal things pointing into the lightening filled sky. But they worked on with calm good humor. They were instrumental to out success.

Kari Brown
Kari Brown (right) finishes with pacer and former MMT champion, Marti Kovener

There is even more. Douglass Clark took over Bill Sublett's job of driving the truck with drop bags and aid station supplies. Bill left Douglass a 30 page paper that explained what to do. Douglass took it to heart and worked day and night to get the drop bags to the right places at the right times.

The Grim Reeper, aka Brian McNeill, dutifully went to every aid station to account for the runners and allow the station to shut down. After spending the weekend without significant sleep, he boarded a plane for a business trip to some place far away in Europe or Asia. We are not sure which. He did get to go business class. Bet he slept on the plane!

There is still more. (You didn't think we were through, did you?) Patti Schlundt and her crew provided food at the finish line from very early Sunday morning until the last finisher crossed the line. There was breakfast in the morning and burgers later. It was all served inside where it was warm. Outside was cold and windy.

Amy's Toes
Always in fashion, Amy Sproston's toes are still painted after her finish!
Photo: Bobby Gill

Finally, Stan Duobinis put it all together. A good RD doesn't do "work" on race day. The work is all before for the event. It's everything no one else will do. It's vital. Stan did it all.

All of these people, plus others we have not mentioned, were part of the great undertaking that is MMT. We expect that they will be back next year to continue to be part of the "big thing." They didn't run the race, but they were intimately involved in the quest of 173 tough individuals to conquer heat, cold, rain, rocks, fatigue, mud, and ticks to finish MMT.

Live Updates

We should probably give a quick report on our attempt to keep the world informed of what was going on in the Massanutten Mountains. While there were others blogging and tweeting, VHTRC.org was the only news organization there when the winner crossed the finish line.

Update Central
The nerve center of VHTRC.org Headquarters. From left: Lucia Davidson (data analysis), Esther Miller (radio command center), and Anstr Davidson (trying not to mess up)
Photo: Brenda Davidson (finish line judge)

We had mixed results with our Web updates. The major problem was delay in uploading data. We got a bit behind at first. Added to that was the problem of Internet access at the ranch. It wasn't where we were. When we took the computer to the access, we found that the access was very slow.

On Saturday afternoon, however, reinforcements arrived. The team consisted of data entry person Lucia, finish line timer Brenda, and rover/back up Wendy.

According to the VHTRC.org server stats, about 4,000 unique visitors came to the Web site each day of the weekend. You have to take those data with several grains of salt. But it is clear that a lot of people from all over the world were able to follow the MMT runners.

We feel that if you promote an event before the fact and claim it's a big deal, you can't stop on race day. Results are important.

Heartwarming Story 1 - the Happy Couple

Keith and Tracy
The Happy Couple -- Keith and Tracy
Photo: Bobby Gill

We know of two heartwarming stories. First, Keith Knipling, earning Brownie points that will probably keep him out of trouble for several years (unless he is related to Gary Knipling, in which case nothing will help him), proposed to his true love, Tracy, at the finish line. He carried the ring the entire 100 miles!! How romantic is that? It's every girl's dream come true -- a proposal at MMT! We at VHTRC.org wish the happy couple all the best.

Heartwarming Story 2 - the Cat

Kevin Bligan, the head of the course marking crew reported:

Stray Cat
He doesn't have a name so you can give him one!
Photo Delinda Hood

"Delinda Hoode, Bill Turrentine, and I marked the Gap-Jawbone-Kerns and 211-Gap2 sections. We parked our only car at Gap and did a loop from there. When we were finished, a guy drove by and asked if we'd lost a cat, there was a beautiful one up Crisman Hollow Road. I drove by him (the cat), but couldn't keep going (I've got five cats, Bill has three, Delinda has one...van full of cat lovers). When I got out of the van he began to meow at me immediately. As I walked toward him he got up, but couldn't put weight on his right front paw. That didn't stop him from jumping into my arms and immediately snuggling into my neck. He sat on Delinda's lap all the way back to the ranch...and all the way back in her car too. For all the trouble he's had he definitely likes humans and will be a great house cat. He's neutered, has all of his claws, and is a beautiful orange mackerel tabby...probably gonna be a big boy too."

Most importantly, the cat is looking for a good VHTRC home. This guy, like Woody before him who was rescued at MMT, would make a great pet. He has his shots and has been "fixed," though we don't like to think about things like that. If you are interested, contact Kevin

Fifteen Years

For 15 years, runners have gathered at the Skyline Ranch Resort to take on Massanutten's rocks. They all share memories of the views from Buzzard Rock and Bird Knob, the pastures before Habron, the mud of Duncan Hollow, the mystery of Short Mountain, the depths of Powells Fort, and finally the field to the club house. They and those who helped them are members of an exclusive club. Most will be there next year. Where else is there to be in Virginia in May?

Massanutten Mountain
Clouds on the Massanutten Mountain
Photo: Brenda Davidson

Comments: If you have any comments on the race, RD Stan Duobinis would welcome them. You can send an e-mail to Stan

Submissions: We welcome the submission of reports and photos that we will either post here or link to. Contact Anstr Davidson at anstr@vhtrc.org in this regard.

Finishing Rate

This year's MMT had the same number of finishers as 2008, but had 17 more starters. There were only three years with lower finishing rates and one of those was the first year when the cutoff time was on hour sooner.

YearStartersFinishersPercent
1995583153%
1996723751%
1997563868%
19981006767%
19991016059%
20001286148%
20011197765%
20021318263%
20031177161%
20041368865%
20051439365%
200615111375%
20071459465%
200815610165%
200917310158%
Totals17861114 62%

Finishing Rate by Sex

Did the 2009 MMT test endurance by sex? Probably not. Given the small sample, there is not much to be made of this. There were 22 women in the field, half of whom finished. The men finished at a rate a bit above half.

MMT 100 Starters Finishers Rate
All 173 101 58%
Men 151 90 60%
Women 22 11 50%

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