For those brave runners who came to rocky hills of the Massanutten course looking for a challenge this weekend, well, they got exactly what they were looking for. The race started off nice enough with clear weather at 5am, but mother nature took over shortly after that. First came the thick humidity, then the sunny heat (about 85 as a high), then a few powerful rain/lightning storms through the afternoon and evening. As much as 2 inches of rain fell in just a few hours during the evening, and just about every runner was slowed considerably on the sloppy technical track of the course. I say "almost" every runner because apparently nothing stops Karl Meltzer. He came through the first Aid Station (8 miles) with reigning champ Todd Walker as company, but that was the last chance for him to exchange recipies with anyone during the day. In the end, Karl won by 2 hours and 13 minutes with an incredible time of 18:29:57 on this nasty course.
Here's Karl crewing for himself at Habron Gap (mile 24.4). He ran the race in the "Stonewall Jackson" division, meaning he had no crew or pacer during the race (although his parents did drive down from New Hampshire to cheer him on!). At this point he had opened up a 2 mile lead over Todd and Glen Redpath, and the gap only widened from there.
Todd (on right) and Glen came through Habron next looking good and working together. They hung close to each other for most of the day until Todd faded late. Glen ended up in 2nd with a time of 20:42:44 (which would have won the race last year). Mike Mason (sorry, no photo) ran great all day long and finished just 20 seconds behind Glen for third place (imagine the race for the win if Karl hadn't shown up this year!).
Fourth place was claimed by Keith Knipling, who put on a great charge in the final hours and overtook a few runners ahead of him. Of course that kind of veteran move should have been expected from Keith. Sure, he's only 33, but this was his 10th finish of the Massanutten 100. TEN! Congratulations on that huge accomplishment, Keith!
The top 5 was rounded out by a hard-charging Adam Cassaday who overtook a couple runners after mile 96 to finish in a dynamite time of 22:39:28. Great perseverence, Adam!
On the ladies side, the race was over early with Amy Sproston coming out of the gate with blazing shoes. Here she is coming in to Habron Gap early in the race. She was running in 6th place overall at this point and already had a 30 minute lead on the second female runner. In the end, the weather probably kept Amy from challenging the course record, but she stil cruised in to win the ladies' race (and finished 10th overall) with a time of 24:59:55.
As for my day crewing/pacing for Nick Pedatella, well, it ended early. Nick re-aggrivated a hamstring injury early on, and he had to drop from the race at Habron Gap (hence my pictures ending from there). I had a great time crewing with his parents Yvonne and Steve who came down from Pennsylvania for the race....it's just too bad our day had to end so soon! If Nick comes back in the future, I hope all of us can finish what we started out there. We were having a great time (aside from Nick's hammy, of course)!
With a 36 hour time limit in this race, the runners have until 5pm today to finish their race. I can't imagine the condition those still out on the course must be in after the beating they took yesterday between the course and the weather. Considering only 40 runners finished under 30 hours, my hat goes off to 100+ still out on the course. That's some serious toughness, People!