Old Dominion (The Original) 2006
Two years ago I ran the MMT as my first and only 100. Thirty-five and a half hours later, along with 28 blisters and a black eye, I decided that I liked 50Ks a lot more. This year however, I decided to give 100s one more chance and picked the OD 100 as my trial run. This turned out to be one of my better decisions. From the prerace briefing Friday night to the awards breakfast Sunday morning, I had nothing but a positive experience. Everyone I encountered was so helpful, enthusiastic and encouraging. There were aid stations every four miles or so and the volunteers and other runners' support crews (thanks Anita, Susan and others) helped me with everything from filling my water bottle and making me jelly sandwiches to finding tape to fix my MP3 that I dropped.
The race started Saturday morning at 4:00 a.m. at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds. After a lap around the track, the runners were off with a police escort through the sleeping town of Woodstock. The first four miles or so were paved, but then gave way to a gravel road winding up the first significant climb to Woodstock Tower. I followed a veteran of many 100s, Dan Brenden, up the mountain, jogging here and there to keep up with his fast walk pace. He left me at the top, but I would see him off and on throughout the day. Joining me was Michael Oliva, from New York City, who was running his first 100. Not only was it his first 100, but he had also never run on trail nor in the dark. He would spend the first 50 miles with me and the last with Jay Finkle and ended up placing 2nd overall.
After the tower, the course followed gravel roads down deeper into the woods and then onto a rocky section of trail as it was starting to get light out. The weather turned out perfect- cool, overcast for most of the day, with low humidity and a breeze. After leaving the trail, the course followed winding dirt roads through the Shenandoah Valley countryside. The scenery was beautiful and the first 50K passed quickly and easily. The course again turned to trail, winding through mountain laurel in full bloom. The Duncan
Hollow Trail was the first slow section of our run as it climbed ever so slowly until it finally crested and dropped quickly to our first medical check station. We came up on horseback riders who willingly gave us trail and encouraged us in our run.
The next 12 miles or so again followed country roads and the race personnel had marked the 50 mile mark for us. At 10 hours and 36 minutes, it was a PR for me (although the Masochist is the only 50 miler I run!). It was at this point that Jay Finkle caught up with us and gave me good advice about finishing sub-24. He also pointed out the trail to Short Mountain, which thankfully we passed by. Jay would end up finishing 3rd overall with his best OD time.
The last half of the race is more difficult. There is a steep, rocky ATV trail, ("This is a monster hill, good luck!," said an ATVer who passed me) followed by another section of gravel road, and then the rocky trail with several creek crossings after leaving Mudhole Gap. This is followed by some nice downhill, to the next medical check station at Elizabeth Furnace at mile 75. (Brian Kistner, last years' winner, had been well in the lead when he was forced to drop out here due to a knee injury). Here I picked up my husband, who made the transition from my Happy Meal supplier (NFI) to my safety-runner, although he insists he is retired from running. The next eleven miles up and over Sherman and Veach Gaps are the slowest and most difficult of the race and I was very glad for his company. Joey Anderson is right- this part sucks. When I started the race, I was only hoping to finish. As the day went on and more and more people told me I could finish under 24, I began to believe them. Veach Gap made a disbeliever out of me.
I couldn't believe it took over 4 hours to cover 11 miles, 3 of them a stretch of dirt road. But after that section, something kicked in and I realized I only had a half-marathon to run. After the climb back up Woodstock Tower, blasting down the other side and a brief encounter with a skunk, who eventually yielded the way, I found my way back to the fairgrounds, completed the same lap around the track as I did in the morning (only I think they added a mile or two to it) and finished in 23:38. I was glad to see Fred Dummar come in shortly behind me.
I had a great experience and highly recommend this race. The course is beautiful with enough varied terrain and scenery to keep you distracted from the fact you are running 100 miles. There were bear and deer sightings, along with the skunks. The aid was excellent and frequent, the course well-marked, and the race was professionally run.
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