|Anstr Davidson takes good photos — at about mile 18 he catches me at the Fountainhead aid station of the VHTRC's Magnus Gluteus Maximus, a trek along the Bull Run Trail in northern Virginia. My GPS, in the full-res version of this photo, shows an elapsed time 4:28:34 at a 15:10 min/mi pace. The bottle of "Evan Williams Honey Reserve" bourbon is tied to a tree limb with a red string. Anstr apologizes for forgetting to bring the Bull Run Run "I" pin that he intended to give me, to replace the one I lost; I apologize for failing to remind him as I promised to do.|
This morning I arrive at Hemlock Overlook about 0645 and meet Bill Wandel, who advises me on the "official" route for this low-key fun-run. At 0700, an hour ahead of the normal start, I set off. Icicles form on my moustache. Three deer bound across the path in front of me. Geese honk and ducks paddle in formation. Little Rocky Run, a tributary stream, is partially covered with ice, as is the surface of the Occaquan reservoir.
I pass Carolyn Gernand and meet multiple small groups of Asian hikers who greet me politely as I trot past. The ground is covered with a thick blanket of fallen leaves, but although I repeatedly stumble I manage not to fall. Ten miles in I experience a twinge in my left heel, perhaps an achilles tendon strain? It doesn't bother me during the run, but the next morning and several days thereafter it feels tight.
|The fastest runners begin to pass me about mile 12, as I approach Fountainhead. For a change I don't get lost in the "Do Loop" maze of horse trails at the southern end of the course — or rather, I only go astray briefly, for a few dozen yards. Caroline Williams meets me and gives me a hug as I congratulate her on her recent ultramarathon successes.|
I'm a mobile pharmacy: about mile 19 I pause to give 4 ibuprofen tablets to a young runner who is suffering from knee and ankle pain. A few miles later I catch up with Mike Hannon, who remembers me from the Bull Run Run earlier this year. Mike is suffering from leg cramps, so I give him a couple of Succeed! electrolyte capsules.
Cheerful Rob Colenso and his fast friend Amy Lane zip by me, as do Gary Knipling, Michele Harmon, and countless other speedsters. Between miles 23 and 26 I accidentally stop my GPS, but since the course is an out-and-back that doesn't affect the map. About mile 29 Andrea Varea whistles to get my attention and asks what route we need to follow. I show her the path back up to Hemlock Overlook and we finish together. I snag the last slice of veggie pizza.