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2011-09-03 - DNF The Ring

~40 miles @ ~22 min/mi

Real-time tweets tell the tale:

0259Up early getting ready to try The Ring, 71 mile Massanutten Trail loop
0806Shawl Gap, dead last ... so far so good ... humid ...
0849Sherman Gap ... bees buzz ...
10110945 Veach Gap - kind Cindy crewing for husband David Woll gives me water... THANK YOU! ... lonely in last place
1116Milford Gap ... refuel and move on!
1144Indian Grave Trail crossing - haze in valley - zippy lizard whizzes by
13111255 Habron Gap - Kerry Owens passes, started half hour late - bear scat? - thunder rumble? - no service in valley soon
1412Kennedy Peak - last post for a while - pass Brian, chat, commiserate
1847Wow! Mega climb to Crisman Hollow aid station
2214DNF! Missed cutoff at mile ~41 - Moreland Gap - too slow night rock runner - fear of falling & breaking bones (again!)

Yep, it's yet another Did Not Finish on The Ring, aka the Massanutten Trail. During the 2009-09-05 - One Third of The Ring attempt comrade Kate Abbott and I wisely decide to punch out at mile ~25. This time the bell tolls at mile ~40.7, after 15 hours en route. I arrive at 10pm, half an hour behind the official cutoff. Is it really appropriate to keep kind volunteers waiting at the aid stations ahead while I stumble through the night? Perhaps not. Elite ultra runner Dan Rose gives me a ride to Edinburg Gap. I drink chocolate milk, help a couple of runners as they come through, nap two hours. Ride back through fog to the start/finish, drive home, arrive 4:03am — precisely 24 hours after I left. The circle closes.

Of ~35 starters this year only a dozen finish The Ring. Weather is warm and humid. For most of the day I'm all alone in last place, though near the start the position is briefly inverted when fast runners take a wrong turn and reverse course to get back on track. I cheerfully salute as they pass. The motto today is "Relentless Forward Progress" with aggressive focus on hydration and nutrition. A water backpack plus hand-held bottle help with aid stations ~10 miles apart. Luna bars, Clif Bloks, and GU energy gels fuel the journey, though something in that diet produces major intestinal gas. Fortunately I'm alone in the woods most of the time.

I've now experienced the entire Massanutten Trail. The final two segments were Camp Roosevelt to the Waterfall Trail, and Jawbone Gap to Moreland Gap. My pace averages ~18 min/mi in daylight, but slows to ~30 min/mi or worse when night falls. That's marginally adequate to do The Ring successfully, if one doesn't get injured, lost, or dispirited. Maybe next year?

Memories:

(cf. 2008-01-20 - Massanutten Mountain South Training Run, 2009-01-04 - Massanutten Mountain Mayhem, 2009-09-05 - One Third of The Ring, 2010-01-15 - Massanutten Trail over Short Mountain, 2010-04-03 - Chocolate Bunny, 2010-05-15 - Half Massanutten Mountain Trails, Between, ...) - ^z - 2011-09-17

I like this!