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The caper sounded intriguing: a new loop trail had just been completed in the mountains overlooking Virginia's Fort Valley and a small group of long distance runners intended to circumnavigate it in one fell swoop. The going would be tough, but the views of the north and south forks of the meandering Shenandoah River would be spectacular. The runners were a fit, fun-loving lot who planned to stick together as they explored the woods and took on the trail.

There were, however, a few challenges involved:
1. The trail was notorious for its ankle busting, foot mashing, mind-numbing surface. There was very little soft or smooth ground. It was almost entirely rocks.
2. The trail extended for 71 miles, which made it nearly three marathons long. The "organizers" of the get-together had taken 28 hours to complete the circuit. They claimed it was "the worst experience of their lives."
3. The trail was not easily accessible. "Aid stations" would be pretty much non-existent. Dehydration, hunger, nausea, and blistered feet were all but assured.

In other words, for this endurance-junkie reporter, the whole idiotic adventure sounded ideal.

"The point is to share the experience we went through, replied Chris Scott with a chuckle when asked why he and Anstr Davidson had concocted the Massanutten Trail Circuit Run. "We suffered miserably, and we thought it would be great fun to sit back and watch others go through the same kind of hell..."


The online advertisement warned that "other than water (that's unattended water, NOT gatorade, coke, tequila, grilled cheese sandwiches, back rubs, etc.) at Milford Gap to help with the 25 miles without aid, we are not providing ANY aid. None, nada, zilch." And yet, while not exactly a highly organized urban 10-K race with multitudes of volunteers handing out cups of water every mile, the event had evolved into a roving smorgasboard in the woods.


Instead of simply dishing out verbal abuse and laughing at the stupidity of others, Chris and Anstr had actually recruited volunteers to help with the cause, and participants were expected to bring help of their own. As a result, the various aid points would now offer everything from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to homemade brownies, from ice water to Mountain Dew and electrolyte drinks. Just as importantly, smiles, positive energy, and constant encouragement would be dished out every time participants emerged from a long stretch in the woods.

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