Sometimes you eat the trail; sometime the trail eats you. Last year I had a great run at Boyer’s Furnace and won it in 7:40. This year I was chewed up and spit out, and I struggled mightily to finish in 8:56.
Somehow my hydration bladder leaked all over my pack during the night, so I had a bit of a disaster to deal with in the morning and got to the start line late. The runners were already off, so I hustled to catch up to my usual running crew and eventually made my way to the front of the pack. I made quick work up the 1,000 foot climb to Woodstock tower, averaging just under 9:00. The next 8 miles on the MMT orange trail up on the ridge went well, and I got to Edinburg Gap at mile 11.8 in 2:07, about four or five minutes ahead of last year.
On the next 9.5 mile road stretch things started going south. Last year I ran impossibly fast on this section and seem do have averaged well under 8:00s. I don’t really remember running this stretch fast, but I guess it had something to do with running it with a 19 year old. Ah, young legs. This year I was still moving well, but my stomach was not cooperating. I threw up a bit at mile 19, but it unfortunately didn’t seem to help.
I rolled into mile 21 at 3:43 elapsed thinking I was going to drop, which sadly would ruin my no-DNF year. But there is no rush when you are out in the mountains, so I sat down and relaxed for a bit. After some soup and PB&J I was feeling better but still wasn’t great. If I left this aid station, I would be committed to another long, tough 21 miles with most of it up on the ridge. It was also a long, long 12 mile stretch until the next aid station. But stupid is as stupid does, so I grabbed some food, left the aid station, and started hiking.
I managed to keep hauling myself along the trail over the next 12 miles at a somewhat respectable pace. The views over to the Shenandoahs were great, and the weather was as good as it gets with temps in the low 50s. I managed to run out of water and Coke more than an hour from the next aid station. Woops. I had some Perpetuem in my front bottles, though it wasn’t really agreeing with me and I suspected it might have been the culprit upsetting my stomach. But I was just too thirsty and drank it anyway.
The Milford Gap aid station appeared like a mirage, and I was tremendously thankful that they hiked everything up to the trail. What service! I spent some time gathering myself together here with soup, Coke, and Ginger ale. Reluctantly I dragged myself out for the last 8.5 mile stretch and was somewhat revived for the next 3 miles or so.
But sadly it didn’t last, and I threw up again about four miles from the finish. I felt much better for the first 2 miles after that but then had a tough slog for the last 2. Let’s just say I was super happy to finish and just sit down for a while.
It was not exactly my best day out in the mountains, but I still had quite a few fun stretches and was pleased to keep it together more or less. I still haven’t fully cracked this stomach issue and maybe I never will, but at least I was keep to keep on moving and get it done!
Beautiful sunrise over the mountains
First glimpse of the Shenandoahs from the far ridge in the first half of the course
We were treated to awesome views of the Shenandoahs for 15 miles up on the ridge
That is one sad, tired dude coming into the Milford Gap aid station at mile 33
Must find food I can stomach ...