May 202012

by George Alexion – “I didn’t do Massanutten, Massunutten did me”…(103.7)

That was my first FB post after finishing at a time of 34.21 and I still find it appropriate. I first decided to enter the MMT lottery after looking at Spring 100’s and coming up with a list of races that scare me and I have no business doing. Being a mostly back of the pack runner who is low on ability, but high on attitude, I entered the lottery. Upon getting into the lottery, I actually spent the next 10 weeks training with mostly high mileage weeks. This doesn’t make me any faster, but it does give me a chance to finish. I’m still on a learning curve as far as drop bags, pre-race diet, and just getting a good night sleep before the run. These were problems I had before the start at 4 a.m. with 2 hours sleep.

The run starts typical enough with a 4 mile uphill road section in suprisingly chilly conditions. After 4 miles we turn on to a rock uphill section of Short Mtn. This was basically a slow conga line hiking to the Edinburg Gap Aid Station. Still early in the race, I thought this section was not bad, but I could tell the day was going to warm up quickly. By the time I got to the next aid station, Mile 20, I was already starting to feel dehydrated and switched to a double bottle pack and focused on watermelon and liquids to minimize the damage. I don’t remember much of the next 2 Aid Stations until I get to Elizabeth Furnace at Mile 33.

Let me stop here and give the Aid Stations a big shout out. They were some of the best, most professional, well equipped Aid Stations I have ever encountered. For not the first time, I will make note I am getting schooled on how to man an Aid Station. I am now 33 miles in and it was already past 8 hours on the course. The next miles went by uneventful until I reached Hebron Gap at Mile 54. I remember thinking to myself, if this was a 50 mile race, it would stand alone as a very tough one. Little did I know, this was the easy good time section. From Hebron Gap you have a 10 mile section to Camp Roosevelt where Annie was waiting for me with a bag of miscellaneous gear very little of which I would ultimately need. This section and the next section all I can remember is when you left the Aid Station you are hit with a rocky never ending steep climb and darkness and night were here.

I just concentrated on keeping moving no matter how slow it felt. Heading from Gap Creek 1 up Kern Mtn. where you switchback on the rocky ridge trails was a slow process for me, but it ends on a downhill section that takes you into the Visitor Aid Station at Mile 78. I was 2 1/2 hours ahead of cut offs and feeling pretty good about being 3/4 done. Once again, another top notch Aid Station experience. This is the only time I will sit at an Aid Station and change my socks and have a cup of soup. I notice that many people are deciding to take short naps and enjoy some of that 2 1/2 hour buffer. A little voice inside me told me this would be a bad mistake for me and not to let my guard down. So off I go up to Bird Knob which is basically a 2 1/2 mile rocky climb finishing at 81 miles with a power walk to the Picnic Area Aid Station.

The day is getting hot and I am starting to feel dehydrated again, but I am mentally in “get it done” mode. The next 6 1/2 miles section was one of my better parts of the second 50 miles of this run. My feet were in a lot of pain and my quads were trashed, but except for some steep climbs I ran this entire section to the Picnic Area Aid Station. This section was where the wheels fell off. My feet were shooting pain with every step. I was having a total system melt down. No hallucinations or any drama, I just could not will myself forward in anything but a drunkard stumble. This 9 mile section of pain took 3 hours and 15 minutes with finally at Gap Creek II with 1 more climb and section to complete I experienced a little rebirth. Though I still had plenty of time on the cut offs, I felt in panic mode after that last section. I gagged down 2 Espresso Gu’s and vowed to finish no matter how much pain or damage.

I started out on the last 2 mile climb up and over Jaw Bone. The next 2 miles were basically a rock jumping downhill which went by pretty good because I knew the finish was close. The last 4 miles is a repeat of the road section we started out on only downhill this time. It hurt the same to run slow as run full sprint, so I would play a little game and sprint for 10 breaths and walk for 10 breaths, finally turning into the road which lead to the field area and finish. I am walking at this point but I notice a runner flying down the road behind me. I decided not to be an easy pass, I start sprinting with all I have down the hill, over the bridge and to the field. I fell short by 2 seconds, but would have it no other way, I was 100 at 100, ran across the finish and all in good fun. We embraced and took pictures of each other and had a good laugh.

Special thanks to Annie for basically picking up the pieces. Stephen once told me that MMT is very hard and there is nothing like it for rocks. I also remember asking him if he ever takes a nap during the night and he told me to just keep moving even if it is a crawl…these were very wise words. I had a great time at MMT, the whole race has a great feel and is very professional without feeling corporate. The support is unparalleled and I am looking forward to next year. I experienced a lot of death during this race, but also some rebirth and hidden in the rebirth were little bits of magic and sometimes a wee bit of magic goes a long way. Once again, a top notch experience.


  One Response to “Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Race Report – George Alexion”

  1. great report George….I am jealous and I havnt even done a 50 miler yet….

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