Welcome back to another edition of This Week In Running, and a look at just a handful of the events/races that are scheduled for the weekend of May 16 and May 17, 2009. This week, a week that commemorates the 34th anniversary of Japanese climber Junko Tabei becoming the first woman to summit Mount Everest, TWIR will take a look at three events/races (although there are plenty of others to choose from), the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Mile Run, the Keys 100 and the Berryman 50 Mile.
On Saturday, May 16, the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club brings you the fifteenth running of the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Mile Run, over the trails of the Massanutten Mountains in the George Washington National Forest in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. MMT is a challenging 100-miler, run on a demanding, rocky course which includes short but rugged mountain climbs that total over 18,000 feet. Starting at 5:00 AM at the Skyline Ranch Resort near Front Royal, just below the Massanutten Mountain’s northeast ridge, runners tackle the eastern Massanutten Trail and connecting trails, before crossing the Crisman Hollow Road for an ascent on the Jawbone Gap Trail to the Massanutten Trail on Kerns Mountain. The course then gets back to the Crisman Hollow Road again and heads south on the Massanutten Mountain South Trail to the Bird Knob Trail. After a loop back to the Picnic Area and the crossing of Route 211, runners take the Massanutten Connector Trail to Scothorn Gap where it goes down the hill to the Crisman Hollow Road to Gap Creek, then up Jawbone Gap again, and eventually up the western Masanutten Trail before returning to the Skyline Ranch Resort. Got all that….if not, check out the course map.
by Keith Knipling (we think) (click to enlarge)
The MMT course record is held by Sim Kae Duk (17:40:45 in 2006). The women’s course record is held by Sue Johnston (22:38:29 in 2005). The 2008 running featured an epic battle between Todd Walker (1st place; 20:58:53) and Keith Knipling (2nd place; 21:07:47). Walker and Knipling spent the entire day within minutes of each other, with Knipling taking an early lead which he held for nearly 65 miles. In fact, Knipling came in to the 64.9 mile aid station a mere one minute ahead of Walker. From there, Walker took charge, opening up a 5 minute lead on Knipling the 67.7 mile aid station. But Knipling would not go away, cutting Walker’s 5 minute advantage to 4 minutes by the 75.9 mile mark, and to 1 minute at the 84.1 mile aid station. Between miles 84.1 and 89.3, Walker would lengthen the gap to almost 10 minutes, but Knipling would not go away, and by the 96.8 mile aid station the two were back to being 1 minute apart. In the end, Walker would prevail by about 9 minutes. Amy Sproston took the women’s title with a time of 26:08:57. Walker and Sproston are both slated to return in 2009 to defend their titles in a field that includes many top ultra runners, including 2007 champion Karl Meltzer, Keith Knipling, Joe Kulak, Greg Loomis, Glen Redpath, Bradley Mongold, and Kerry Owens. Check out Karl Meltzer’s May 9 post “Time for Nutten” for a look at the top runners in this year’s event (complete with odds and commentary). MMT competitor Greg Loomis also took a look at the field. iRunFar will be posting its own MMT field analysis on Friday and hopes to provide at least a few on location updates much as it did last year.
Keeping with the 100 mile theme, the Keys 100 kicks off its 2nd edition on Saturday, May 16, and raises money and provides funding for educational outreach and free prostate cancer screenings in South Florida and the Keys, and supports prostate cancer research to find a cure. The Keys 100 is almost entirely run on US Highway #1, known in the Keys as “Overseas Highway”. At least half of the race is run on existing sidewalks and service lanes, with the balance facing traffic on the road shoulder, where traffic can be heavy. Alisa Springman took top honors in the inaugural event (23:02:23), finishing ahead of Alan Geraldi (25:37:52) and Yen Nguyen (26:32:53). Only 7 of the 20 starters finished. Springman returns in 2009 to defend her overall title.