Race: Old Dominion
Date: June 3rd, 2016
Finish Time: 22 hours, 19 minutes
Distance: 100 miles
Gain/loss: 14,000 ft
The course kept me in touch with my surroundings. The combinations of gravel roads, hiking trails, and paved portions made me feel as though I was traversing all the human activity in Fort Valley and the Massanutten Mountains. While some locals aren't sure what to think of Ultra-Runners at other races I've participated in, at Old Dominion I received plenty of words of encouragement from on-lookers. One fellow cruising by in a truck even offered me a ride up the climb to Woodstock Tower. I replied that it was a tempting offer but one I would have to pass up! Plenty of wildlife was out as well. I heard reports of a bear spotting; deer and bunny rabbits criss-crossed the trails and turtles came out in the late afternoon hours. Snakes were the main topic of conversation among runners though. I saw 3 huge rattlesnakes, one of which was coiled with its tail rattling away, a clear message to keep your distance. This was also interesting to me since that while I realized there are Rattlers on the east coast, Copperheads and Cottonmouths tend to be more common in Virginia when it comes to poisonous snakes.
The whole race was tough; at no point did I feel great, however I never felt remotely close to quitting either. Instead I just buzzed along at a steady pace, picking away at the course as the day waned. I hit my lowest point around the middle of the race before the mountain top aid station. I was hungry and tired, and having difficulty drinking enough fluids to off-set my sweat rate while at the same time not being able to stomach much food. Somehow at the Edinburgh Gap and Little Fort aid stations I was able choke down enough calories which, combined with some cloud cover and decreasing temperatures, gave me a 2nd wind to push into the last 1/3 of the course.
One last test came almost 94 miles into the race. Coming down off the last climb from Woodstock tower, during the dark and rainy night, I somehow strayed left on the road instead of veering to the right. This looked like the course but as the road turned to gravel I realized something wasn't right. Staying calm is truly key in this instances. After a brief freak-out I stopped, consulted my map, and determined I needed to back track. A local was driving home and stopped to direct me back to the last junction if I wanted to reach the finish in Woodstock. It seemed like an eternity but in hindsight I only burned about a mile or 12 minutes. The adrenaline rush of missing a turn gave me some fresh legs to make some of that time up on the way back. I was just happy to be back and going the right direction!
|"Flying" into the finish at 2:19 am Sunday.|
This race is classic Ultra-Running. Paper mail-in applications, no sponsors, no live-tracking, no mercy, and certainly no bullshit. The finish proved equally underwhelming; 1 person recording finish times, and 3 or 4 other supporters hanging out. That was it. Its low key and everyone involved knows what they are doing. The race directors have admirably kept it this way for almost 40 years and I hope it continues.
|Race HQ at the Shenandoah fairgrounds.|
The Old Dominion endurance run, still a reason to get strong since 1979.