Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Massanutten Inspired

The stories from last weekend's Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 are still coming in. Every year, this is one the most inspiring events to watch, running or otherwise. The rocks of MMT arguably create the most brutal, joint battering, foot bruising, running conditions of any American footrace. The 36 hour cut off, volatile May weather, and 9-10 mile stretches between aid stations can wreak mental havok on even the most prepared athletes.

I had the priviledge of volunteering, albeit for only seven hours, at the picnic area aid station. I also bounced back and forth to the visitor's center aid station, thus allowing me to see runners at mile 77 and 87. Unlike earlier in the race, runners are truly battling within themselves as they come through these late aid stations. Sadly, because I was only working until 2am, I only saw the top 15 runners come in and was unable to see many of my friends come through the picnic area.

Things that I will remember from the 2010 MMT are as follows:

1. My friend, and trail "Mom", Caroline Williams finishing with less than 2 minutes to spare. Caroline went the furthest of all runners during the February snow run of the Reverse Ring(46 miles). She completed the September version of the Ring(71 miles). Now she has an MMT buckle. Without a doubt, Caroline has proven to be far tougher than she looks, and very dedicated to her goals.

2. Sheryl Wheeler once again making a late move to take the women's title. She proved her 2nd place from last year was no fluke, and crushed it from 60 miles to the finish. In the end, Sheryl ran one of the fastest female times ever at MMT.

3. Dan Barger looking relaxed and smooth, even after 87 miles en route to a win.

4. Aaron Schwartzbard flying through our aid station trying to catch a tiring Todd Walker. I have never seen anyone look as fresh, or move as fast as he did through 87 miles. Aaron eventually caught and passed Walker to finish 3rd.

5. Joe Kulak's physical collapse at mile 77. Joe is a very experienced MMT runner, and an overall elite in 100 mile races. At mile 77 he struggled to get off the ground, threw up, was shivering, and had a glazed look in his eyes. Slowly, to the concern of many volunteers, he made his way back to the trail. He later fell asleep by a tree and lost hours on his typical sub 24 hour finish....but he finished.

6. Mark Tanaka's epic chaffing. I think he used up all the petroleum jelly at our aid station literally spooning it onto his twig and berries. Mark also get's the quote of the night award for "chaffing so bad that his left testical was swollen." In addition, Mr. Tanaka had a bad reaction to cheese and requested mustard instead of cheese on his turkey sandwiches. Nothing like a good sense of humor when your going balls to the wall (pun intended)

7. Drops from elite runners Sean Andrish, Mike Mason, and Harland Peelle. Ironically, many so called "back of the pack" runners were able to fight their way to the finish line to gain 100 mile glory.

MMT 2011- I finally have priority, so I will likely get in. Two years in waiting. Time to settle unfinished business.