For a variety of reasons I had to skip out the MGM 50K this year. I was a bit bummed since I had run this 4 years in a row and really like it, so I made a last minute decision to jump into the Boyer’s Furnace 40 miler to make up for it.
Boyer’s Furnace is a low key 41-42 mile run out in the Massanuttens with an easy bail point at mile 21 where many people wisely call it for the day. I figured I would likely take this option given my lack of trail running and coming off an 80 mile week for the first time in forever.
I had a most entertaining drive out there listening to the audio book “Dad is Fat” by Jim Gaffigan that my mother-in-law got me for Christmas. It is pure gold, and I highly recommend checking it out.
The race went off at 7am, and it was a nice and brisk 18 degrees. It was supposed to be in the mid 50s later in the day, and with a 40 degree temperature swing I had literally no idea what to wear. I went for the initially stupid and with some luck subsequently smart option of shorts and a light pullover. This meant I ran a bit faster than I might have otherwise planned up the 4 mile climb to keep myself from freezing to death. Fortunately I did not die, and sunrise on top of the mountain was beautiful and started warming things up quickly.
Sunrise after some climbing
The next 8 miles were on some nice single track trail on the northern ridge of the Massanuttens. I was running in good company, and the miles flew by. We bombed down some really nice trail to the 11.7 mile aid station and then rolled along roads for the next 9 miles, which also went by fast.
I rolled into mile 21 at Camp Roosevelt in 3:22. That was way faster than I expected, and I was feeling good. I decided I was feeling foolish enough to run the whole thing. The weather was also as good as it gets at this point, and I was running in shorts and a t-shirt the rest of the way.
The next 17 mile stretch was all up on the southern Massanutten ridge, and I knew it would be tough. It was 12 miles to the next aid, and it would all be very rocky with lots of short, steep climbs. But for the most part I felt good and enjoyed this long stretch. There were some fantastic views along the way across the valley to the Shenandoahs. I felt pretty rough for a few miles, but an S-cap, a Hammer gel, and some Coke snapped me most of the way out of it. The guys who hiked an aid station up to Milford gap were also amazing, and some refueling there was hugely helpful.
Looking over the ridge of the Massanuttens
Looking out over the valley and the river towards the Shenandoahs
I came off the ridge with 5 miles left and was definitely ready to be done. My legs were beat, and I was undertrained for this length of run. I pounded down the mountain as best I could. As one last kick in the teeth, the trail literally ran through a stream for a few hundred yards, getting my feet nice and icy cold.
Believe it or not this is actually the trail!
There were 3.5 miles of rolling roads left, and I made pretty good time. Although it was only 2:30pm, the sun was already well on the way down to the mountains, and it was a beautiful end to the day. I wrapped up in about 7:40, first one back for the day.
I very much look forward to getting back out to the mountains a bit more often again. Hopefully the MLK and President’s Day long weekends will provide good opportunities.
Sun already going down on the last road section