Thursday, May 8, 2008

Massanutten Roster Update

Barring any last-minute additions, the roster for the 101.8 miles of Massanutten fun is set. This race has a maximum field limit of 160 - a little lower than some 100 milers since it's tough to ensure enough quality support for runners on this terrain. The Race Director(s) put safety and quality first, and rightly so. The good news is, despite the smaller field, there is no lack of elite runners signed up to duke it out on the hills of the Shenandoahs next weekend. Fresh off my 17:05 at Umstead, my goal is to break 24 hours (that's how much harder this course is), and in doing so most likely finish in the top 10. Not too many years have gone by in the history of this race where 10 people have broken that time barrier. It's that tough of a course. The reward for a sub-24 finish is a SILVER buckle - everyone else gets a pewter one. There is, of course, no shame in the pewter buckle, but seeing how few silver ones exist out there, I'm really gunning for that goal. I'll post more about my plans/goals in the race next week, but for now, here's a quick run-down of the elites/notables in the race:

Sean Andrish - 2004 Winner (20:49) - He looks to be running strong this spring, so I expect him to go for the win right from the starting gun.

Serge Arbona - Remember him from his Umstead win last month? Well, we'll line up again next week, only this time on a much tougher terrain. He's never won this race but has two solid times (22:47 and 22:53) to his credit. Look for him to run close to that time again and finish Top 5.

Adam Casseday - Sort of a dark horse in this race. He's never run Massanutten before, but as a West Virgina guy he's surely got plenty of training in on this type of terrain. If his speed on shorter distances translates here, he could contend for a podium spot.

Joe Clapper - Sure, it was back in 1995, but his 23:39 finish that year deserves a mention here. I would be lucky to have someone mention a 23-hour finish of mine 13 years from now.

Keith Knipling - Part of the historic Knipling tandem, Keith and his dad Gary essentially ARE the Massanutten Mountain 100 miler. Gary is going for his 11th(!!!) finish this year, and last year Keith (with 8 finishes of his own) really stepped it up to break 24 hours for the first time with a crazy-fast 21:18. If he comes back in that kind of shape this year, look for him to hang close to the front all day long.

Mike Mason - Great mix of speed and endurance, he comes back to Massanutten healthy and ready to improve on his 22:33 from 2006. He will contend all day long.

Tom Neilsen - This 2003 winner (21:55) from California is back to show the young guns he's still got mad skills in the hills (he's 48 years young).

Michael Schuster - Another dark horse with good speed at the shorter distances. Has a DNF on this course in the past, so look for him to avenge that this time around.

Todd Walker - Here's my pick to fight it out w/ Sean Andrish for the win. He's one of only 6 people to ever break 20 hours on this course (and he's done it twice - 19:13 in '06 and 19:24 in '05). Last year he clicked off a 21:11. The amazing thing about all these fantastic finishing times is he's NEVER WON. That's just a crime. Look for him to end that streak next weekend.

Brennen Wysong - Another sub 24 hopeful with a 24:37 finish last year. He's that much more familiar w/ the trail now. Look for a sub-24 and top 10 for him this time around.


Stanley said...

Do all races reward with buckles? As a buckle enthusiast, I'm curious about the prizes.

Dan Rose said...

Back in the late 70s, during the annual 'Tevis Cup' 100 mile horse race in Northern California, a couple guys showed up and found their horses too injured to compete. Being a little crazy, they decided to try and complete the 100 miles on foot. About 24 hours later, during the award ceremony for the horse race, the two guys stumbled out of the woods and across the finish line. The guy coordinating the horse race was so impressed he gave them both the same belt buckle the riders who finished the race received. ...and so the world of both 100 mile races and the belt buckle award was born.
Today that course in CA is the 'Super Bowl' of 100 mile races known as the Western States Endurance run. If you break 24 hours, you get a huge buckle that, right below the image of mountain lion on a rock, says "100 Miles, One Day". That time-limit and phrase are common themes in most 100 mile races today.
Personally, I find the award of an originally-designed buckle that you can actually wear is infintely better than a normal medal that you can't wear for longer than a few minutes after you finish a regular marathon without someone questioning your sanity. I'm pretty sure if you went on eBay right now, you'd find a bunch of people auctioning off Boston Marathon medals, but you wont find a single 100 mile belt buckle listed.
One last note - The Massanutten course is so tough, they award a buckle to anyone who finishes in the 36 hour time limit. Like I said in the post, that buckle is silver if you break 24 hours, pewter goes to everyone else. I'm going out there gunning for silver or bust.

Jamie Donaldson said...

Think Silver! You will do it Dan! Good luck to you!

jengardner said...

So how does Elix feel about your running this race a week before your wedding?

Dan Rose said...

Shhhh!!! Quiet, or you'll blow my cover! I was hoping to sneak out of the house, run the 100 miles, and then sneak back in before she noticed. Also, there would have been fistfulls of sedatives slipped into her dinner the night before allowing me to pull off this plan. Now you've ruined it!

Actually, Elix is quite a loving, understanding, and supportive wife-to-be. She promised only to kill me if I can't walk on the Big Day. While I'm pretty sure I'll be able to avoid that fate, I wouldn't expect too many Dance Fever moves from me on the dance floor. The splits might be tough to pull off.

Staci said...

Good luck Danny Boy- we can't wait to read the play by play of the race. Chris's comment cracks me up. I wonder what the technical term for buckle collector is? Too tired to google it right now. Let me know.

Trail Goat said...

Danny, best of luck this weekend. Thought that I'd share I had pretty much the same exact thoughts re the field. As I note in my post, I only came across your post while writing mine (I think I was search for results for Casseday). Anyway, you might want to take a look.

Brennen said...

Thanks, Dan, for the encouragement. Training went completely different for me this year (more races, less intense workouts), so I'm pretty uncertain how I'll do -- but it will take an awfully good day for me to break 24 hours.

Based on your Umstead finish, your time spent on the MMT course, you're sitting pretty. One piece of advice: Be on top of Short Mountain or somewhere beyond it by nightfall.

And, hey, my wife-to-be endured my first MMT about a month before our wedding in 2006. She still makes a crackerjack crew two years later, so maybe that's proof they'll still love us even if we do stupid stuff like run this race right before our weddings.

Dan Rose said...

You said the magic words re: Short Mountain. During my first training run on that section, I immediately thought "I need to get through this ridge before dark or I'll be a bloody mess by time I make it to Edinburg Gap". As it is, I'll be aiming to reach the start of the Short Mt. climb by 7:00pm or so. That should get me through those nasty ridge rocks (and #%*@-ing thorns!!) before sunset.

I'm sure we'll run a few miles together at some point on Saturday, but if I don't get chance to meet you, Good Luck out there!