Boyer's Furnace 40 - A Fat Ass Run
At 2:30 a.m. waking was easy thanks to my mind fighting sleep. It was hard to stop thinking about the adventure to come. Boyer's Furnace. Boyer's is a club run or "fat ass" of about 42 miles which they describe as minimally supported but it is anything but "minimally" anything. Having run this event before I should have been off in dream land envisioning that faster finishing time I had hoped to have this year but my mind kept replaying things; like the encouraging message between D and myself where I encouraged her to run even though she wasn't feeling great so we could share some time on the trail. My mind couldn't help but also linger on the fact that my sister had dropped out. I kept wondering why I felt so hesitate myself about my return to the Massanutten trails which I hadn't spent any real time on since May when I ran the MMT100 there. So when I finally drifted off to sleep after 2:30 I wasn't completely surprised to hear my husband tell me it was past my wake up time and I needed to either get up or snuggle back in bed and keep dreaming of the Massanutten trails. Obviously I got up.
Ready to take on Boyer's Furnace
After trying to get ready as fast as I could, I started the hour and a half drive toward one of the race director's homes. The race would basically start and end at her front door. That is one of the things I love about this course and many of the cub runs; that family feeling that taking part give you. This year I did arrive at the start in time to hear the two minute warning and jump in for the group photo. I threw my donations and drop bag down as I heard the seconds counted down and rushed to buckle my pack as I ran through the small pack of runners to settle in with some trail friends. Since I am also a streak runner I wanted to take advantage of the early road section and get my consecutive minimum mile run so I stayed with a group of faster paced runners and fell in with a trail runner that I had run the majority of this event with last year, Katie. I made mixed emotions about sticking with her again this year. I knew that she would be great company and we would definitely be able to set a faster pace than last year but I couldn't help but remember that I had encouraged D to run today when she might otherwise have stayed home. So I finished the first mile and a half and then said goodbye to Katie to take a few photos of the rising sun as I waited for D to catch up.
I waited a while before first her husband and then she rounded the turn. She was power hiking the hill and said she wasn't feeling the best thanks to a nasty cold. We chatted a bit to catch up since we hadn't been able to share the trail in a long time. Her husband Harry and I would spend the majority of the first half of the run running together and then waiting for D to catch up. I enjoyed the climb up to Woodstock and since Harry and I had such a lead on D, we ran out to climb the fire tower. This was something I had never done on the trail. I just had never taken the time to enjoy it but today I was so glad I had. The view was amazing with the sun still low in the sky.
Woodstock Fire Toward
The rising sun through the gap
So happy to be back on the trail
After our quick detour we were back on the trail and through the first aid station. Carter told us that D had just walked through with another runner. Harry and I quickly made our way over the trail to D and Patricia, a relatively new trail runner.
The pace was slow but the scenery was beautiful so I stayed back hoping the slower pace would help D find the joy in being out again. I knew there were several forest road sections that we could make up time on so I still wasn't too concerned about our pace.
As we went along this section Harry and I pulled ahead to settle into a more natural pace. Harry was keeping his pace leisurely and we were pausing to clear as much fallen trees and branches as we could move without tools. When we arrived at the Edinburg Gap aid station we were ahead of D and Patricia by a few minutes and knew that D did not have much push in her body or mind today.
Hoping some positive energy could help her rebound we quickly fueled up on oranges, chips, coke and ginger ale as we talked with the volunteers and race director who had come out to support the runners. Once D had refueled we were off again. But the conversation quickly turned to dropping at Camp Roosevelt about 20ish miles into the run. We tried to talk D into continuing at the relaxed pace she was going but it seemed as though she had made up her mind.
Harry and I pulled ahead over this forest road section on Edinburg Gap. We talked about how lucky we were to be out on such an amazingly mild, almost hot, December day. I had already removed my base layer and was still wishing I had worn shorts.
When we made it to the intersection with Moreland Gap, Harry decided to double back and check on D. I was torn and falling into my bad habit of not running my own "race." After a quick nature call I decided I had to continue on my own and knew D would be happy that I did.
Alone on Moreland Gap Road I was reliving the joy of finally getting to that same spot after 100 miles in May. Today, the beautiful scenes along the road that I ran past in May, I paused to photograph.
Still feeling no real pressure to watch my pace I simply enjoyed a few miles alone and took in the scenery. I knew Camp Roosevelt was only a few miles away.
I ran into Camp Roosevelt aid station to a group of happy helpful faces. After learning the last runners to past through left about 15 minutes ahead of me, I grabbed some noodle soup, pickles, coke and my headlamp. I struggled with not knowing if Harry and D would drop but I was eventually encouraged to keep moving. I made the climb up to the ridgeline and paused to snap a few photos. There were a lot of cars at the overlook were the Massanutten trail hops out onto the road at the eastern ridgeline and a picnicker offered to snap my photo.
The next 12 mile section was part of Boyer's that had gotten lost in my mind. I forgot how completely false it is when they say it "runs like 14." It's false because it runs like 20! It teases you with a wide easy to navigate trail for a few miles but then narrows and hardens as it runs the ridgeline keeping you from finding any semblance of a steady pace.
But the views are always worth the effort! This section was a real reminder of just how much training it takes to run on the Massanutten trails. It is easy to forget all the hours of training practicing how to navigate these rocks trails but the eastern ridge was a fast reminder of all the work ahead to be ready for a date with her in May.
At some point along the ridge, Harry caught back up with me. I was so happy to see him thinking that he had talked D into continuing. However Harry wasn't sure if she was coming or had dropped. I continued with Harry for a few miles but a nature call would delay me enough to fall behind again.
I was perfectly happy to be alone on the trail. Even the thought of running alone once the sun had set didn't bother me. Just being able to be on the trail for such a long time is a gift. Early on the eastern ridge I had called my husband to hear how his day was going. It is only because he was home with the kids that I was able to take a day for myself and I am always so grateful for his support and encouragement. When I finally got to the Milford Gap aid station I saw Harry again and they confirmed that D had dropped at Camp Roo. Harry said he was going to continue on his way to get as far as he could before the sun set. The aid station crew was awesome! They filled my pack and got me soup and soda while I sat down with Gary K for a little break. I wanted to get all the wonderful soup into my body but it just wouldn't cool down fast enough and daylight was going to be fading fast so I had to get moving. 8 miles to go.
The last 8 miles of Boyer's Furnace should have been much faster than it was. I had a turn sheet which was basically a bunch of lefts before coming down off the trails but then switch from Orange to Blue/Orange to yellow challenged my brain and my feet. As the trail descended it became more and more a flowing creek filled with rocks and mud. I quickly remember the fun of the yellow trail which actually lays within the creek bed. It was fun to have the woods all to myself and splash through the muck. But I was happy to hit the gravel road and begin the twisting country roads that would lead me back to Carter's home.
2014 Boyer's Furnace
There was the wonderful trail magic that was left by a home owner along the trail, a little basket of fruit, water and snacks. Then there was complete quiet where there was nothing to hear but the breath of the earth. A few turns and there were houses, Christmas lights and a car coming towards me. It was Tony and Arthur coming to check on me and ask if I wanted a ride. Of course that was a silly question. Arthur offer to "run" in with me. Such a nice gesture even though he wasn't dressed for it. So we made our way around a few bends to Carter's front yard and I ran up the front walk to tell her, "I'm home!"