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
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.