Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Massanutten Race Report 2012

The Start/Finish area of the MMT 100

Rock-it Man the theme of MMT

Caroline Furnace - Moreland Gap
4.1 miles  51 minutes

This section started with a basic road climb to the first aid station. Weather was nice and I took a few walk breaks to keep the legs relaxed as I eased into things. The plan was to try to run even splits throughout the entire race. So the body was was feeling good as I took in the moment.

Moreland Gap - Edinburg Gap
8.1 miles 2 hours 5 minutes
12.1 miles 2 hours 56 minutes

Finally on top and running
Leaving the aid station we went straight on to the trail and began the climb up Short Mt. which was covered in rocks. Taking my time with foot placement I was able to avoid smashing my feet or tripping. The congo line to the top of the mountain was steady with lots of good conversation. Gary Knipling the veteran on the course was giving out geographical call outs. I remember him saying to Tim, "when the big rock is against your right elbow we are 100 yards from the top." It is a great feeling having some guidance to the end of a long climb.

Final climb of the section

Running on top of the ridge I stopped briefly to remove my windbreaker and pack away my headlamp. The sunrise was beautiful from atop of the mountain. Weather was warming up and so were my legs in good way.

Edinburg Gap - Woodstock Tower
8.2 miles 2 hours 0 minutes
20.3 miles 4 hours 56 minutes

Starting the climb to Woodstock with Tim & Steve (Animal Camp Runners)
Rolled in and out of the aid station after grabbing a few hundred calories. As I entered each aid station I would get the logistics of miles and terrain for the upcoming section. Then from that I would would estimate my run time and eat 80 calories for every expected 10 minutes of running. That equation worked throughout the entire day. I would refill my bottles, attach them to the front of my pack, collected the needed calorie allotted food then eat while walking into the next section. Climbing out of that station I joined up with some of the Animal Camp runners on the way to the top. A bit later I was on top of a very runnable ridge and made good use of the time picking up the pace. The section went by smoothly.

Woodstock Tower - Powells Fort
5.6 miles 1 hour 13 minutes
25.8 miles 6 hours 9 minutes

Coming into Woodstock I caught up to Michelle Matys as she was about to leave. I had not seen her since the first mile. Her goal was inline with mine so I joined her throughout most of this section. A lot of the climbs my legs would power right up with my arms in a nice rhythm. The downhills I took precaution and kept a comfortable pace in order to ensure I had legs for later when needed. Again this section had some really good runnable areas on top.

Powells Fort - Elizabeth Furnace
7.5 miles 1 hour 55 minutes
33.3 miles 8 hours 4 minutes
Closing out the trail and into Elizabeth Furnace
Photo by Traci Phillips

Arriving into Powells Fort I was greeted by a volunteer who had just made french toast. He slapped some bacon & syrup on it to top it off. Then I pounded down a bunch of fresh fruit and heading on down the jeep road. Temperature wise the day was getting warm which I didn't mind. I was taking my time by occasionally stopping to wet my hat in order to keep me cool before falling victim to the heat. In addition, I was now adding S-caps to my fueling regimen. Soon came the climb again up another rocky trail. This time it passed by a bit quicker then the previous ones then came a nice long downhill runnable section. At this point I started leap-frogging with Zsuzsanna Carlson. She powered the downs quickly and I in return would sail up the hills. Most the time from here through the next several aid stations would we run together in the level sections then again play leap-frog up & down the climbs.

Elizabeth Furnace - Shawl Gap
4.7 miles 1 hour 18 minutes
38.0 miles 9 hours 22 minutes

Elizabeth Furnace Aid Station
Photo by Traci Phillips

At Elizabeth I saw Traci Phillips, Michelle's pacer/crew and David Snipes, another MMT veteran. Had some conversation with everyone in good spirits and ready for the next big hill climb. Took in all the food I needed and on I went. My entire body at this point felt amazing. It is the first time in a race that I didn't feel like work by easing the pace back to an overall 15 minute average this far into the run. I punched the clock and motored up the almost two mile climb.

Following Zsuzsanna into Shawl

Once at the top it was then about two miles all down into the next aid station. The day day was still getting warmer and probably about now it was near mid 70F. The S-caps & keeping my head cool was working like a charm. No cramping or white salty residue on my skin.

Shawl Gap - Veach Gap
3.1 miles 43 minutes
41.1 miles 10 hours 5 minutes

A quick bit to eat here at Shawl before I headed out for 3.1 rolling road section. Looking around as I ran the road I took in all the mountains around me. Knowing what I had covered and what was ahead of me I was feeling confident that my body was ready for the challenge. This section went by rather nice and before I knew it I was coming into Veach Gap.

Veach Gap - Indian Grave Trailhead
9.0 miles 2 hours 44 minutes
50.1 miles 12 hours 49 minutes

A surprise look when offered an ice cream sandwich
Photo by Kirstin Corris

I was greeted by ultrarunnergirl aka Kirstin, who I became friends with via twitter a few years ago. It was great to finally meet her in person. She helped me pop the blister that was forming on my right heel pad, attended a chafing issue on my right shoulder, gave me shout-out for my birthday and just made it a great experience there. 

Runners making the climb
Once again I the hill climb was straight out of the aid station and without hesitation I worked my way back to the top. Along the ridge at the top you are pushed to the outer most left edge of the mountain. There was a collection of leaves all over the rocks making it even trickier to maneuver. Suddenly, I slipped landing with my right quad on top of a rock and both hands were cushioned by the water bottles in my hands. As I laid there for a second I looked at my feet noticing the 1000' fall I just nearly escaped. Another runner just ahead of me stopped when he heard me fall then informed me a few years ago a woman fell off the mountain in this area and unfortunately did not survive. For the remaining portion of this section I slowed a bit to ensure good footing until I was back in a runnable section. A few minutes later I slipped again on some leaves but nothing as frightful as before on the ledge. I collected myself and ran the remaining section into the next aid station.

Finally on top and time to run the ridge

Indian Grave Trailhead - Habron Gap
3.9 miles 1 hour
54.0 miles 13 hours 49 minutes

Working the road section to the mountain in the distance
At the aid station I took a bit more to ensure I was staying hydrated. The last section was a bit long and I had made it through with just 48 ounces. Since everything was feeling good I wanted to continue that feeling throughout the race and not fall behind. The only problem that began now was both of my heel pads were getting sensitive & blistering. I expected with all the rocks to have the pain, but not the blistering. I thought at this point I had covered the issue by popping them. I jumped on to the road and headed to the next stop. The road was a gradual roll that again went by nicely. I didn't see many runners which I thought was odd.

Habron Gap - Camp Roosevelt
9.8 miles 3 hours 22 minutes
63.9 miles 17 hours 11 minutes

Again I saw Traci at the aid station, she said Michelle was close and she would be joining her since it was going on 6:00pm. I snacked on some cheese quesadillas, sandwiches and a few hundred more calories for the biggest section of the day. The word was two miles in your face straight up, a few miles on the ridge then a long decent into the next aid station. I went straight into climbing mode and made my way quickly up the mountain. Once on top the few people I had passed them and several more all began to zoom by me on the ridge section. Here is when I felt the blisters forming all around my toes. My stride on the downs was changing to adapt to the pain. A few miles before the aid station I sat down on the trail and popped three blisters on my right foot to try to escape the discomfort. Every step downhill was getting worse. Frustration was now in my mindset; here I was feeling absolutely amazing, my legs had not even felt like I had ran yet on the day, stomach was in check, no heat issues, no cramping, but my from my ankles to my toes a disaster was forming quickly. About two miles from the aid station I finally powered on my headlamp. Reaching the aid station I did the usual eat, drink and get the logistics then back out.

Camp Roosevelt - Gap Creek #1
5.8 miles 2 hours 38 minutes
69.6 miles 19 hours 50 minutes

Starting out it was a gradual climb and the trail started to become wet. Ankle deep in some areas and very wide. So a few times I ended up soaking my feet because there was no way around the wet areas. Mile after wet mile I felt the blisters getting worse. The uphill sections I could still muscle with no issues, but the downs were getting miserable. I would take a step then hesitate then step again. Walking at a snail pace into the aid station I knew it was time to stop. I informed the volunteer at the aid station I was dropping. The next several runners all come in running. Seeing that I knew my pace would not make the next 35 miles in 16 hours. I sat in a chair and waited out the ten minutes until the stoke of midnight and the start of my 40th birthday. Zsuzsanna was there, with her pacer Barry, and grabbed me a brownie to celebrate my birthday.

For making it 69.6 miles (Gap Creek AS #1)

All in all I truly enjoyed the adventure. Yes I wish I would have finished and gotten a belt buckle. I know that the training plan I used prepared me for this race was a success. My trainer pushed me hard for the past several months and now I see the benefits. Angeles Crest 100 miles is next in July. With some changes to my shoe lacing and foot maintenance I will be sporting a buckle at the end of the AC100. 


  1. Awesome mountain running, Steve! Your training was there, the nutrition firing for you, and mentally you were rocking that race. Damn blisters! Sounds like it was a great birthday experience despite the issues, and you will crush Angeles Crest and have your revenge.

  2. You did great Steve. It's all a learning experience. At least you know you did everything you could to prepare for the race and you were ready for it. You'll kick ass at Angeles Crest! Pack a few sandwiches, haha!

  3. it was great meeting you and sharing the trail with you. i had blisters also but i just keep taking to advil to dull the pain, it works for me anyway. i know that you will come back next year and turn that rock in for a nice shiny buckle. we will talk soon about AC100 and I will give you the scoop on the course.

  4. Steve,
    it was really great to meet you! You looked amazing and happy at Veach. Sorry the blisters got you -- come back again next year!