Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Terrapin Mountian 50K

“Inspiration, move me brightly. Light the song with sense and color;
Hold away despair, more than this I will not ask. Faced with mysteries dark and vast, statements just seem vain at last. Some rise, some fall, some climb, to get to Terrapin.”
The Grateful Dead: Terrapin Station, July 1977

I usually lead off my race reports with a biblical quote but in this case, being a closet “Dead Head”, I could not resist a quote from The Grateful Deads, Terrapin Station. However as the tunes of the Dead were filing through my head on Saturday, I remained forever “Grateful” that the Lord provided me with another opportunity to run in the beautiful mountains of Virginia and open my ears to hear: “The voice of the one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth.” (Isaiah 40:3,4).

I ran the Terrapin Mountain Marathon in 2008. This was the second year that the race was run as a 50K and it was a great opportunity to run on some trails during the daylight that I had only run in the dark. The race started at 0700 from the Sedalia Center with a loud bang of the gong. It was a little cold at the start, about 28 degrees but it would warm up to 50 by the end of the race, perfect day for running. The 50K runners and the half marathoners started together and ran the first four miles to Camping Gap. The race started out on pavement for about a mile, then switched to dirt road and finally dumped out on to a trail for the last 2 mile climb to the first aid station.

After hitting Camping Gap for the first of three stops it was down, down, down for about 5 miles. This section was run on some of the Hellgate 100K course. It was nice to see it in the day time because during Hellgate I usually hit this section of the course about 0230 in the morning. This section was all on dirt roads and a little pavement and moved very quickly but I was careful not to overdo the downhill. Once we got to the Goff Mountain aid station we started the slow climb back up the mountain. Again we started on dirt road and after about a mile we got back on the trail to the next aid station and then the steady climb, on dirt road back to Camping Gap (16ish miles).

Leaving Camping Gap for the second time we headed out to the White Oak Ridge loop, which was 6 miles and covered some trails that will be used in the upcoming Promise Land 50K. I was feeling pretty good at this point and was able to run the loop in 1 hour. Coming back into Camping Gap for the last time I knew that I had one last big climb and then a lot of step, rocky downhill trail up ahead.

I left the aid station at 1100 with 22 miles under my belt and started the hard climb up Terrapin Mountain. The views from the summit were awesome, you could actually see the Sedalia Center and the finish line from the rock outcropping. Playing off the adrenaline rush of being on the summit I picked up the pace on the downhill and made good time in to the last aid station. With 5.5 miles to go I knew that I was going to be able to finish under 6 hours and in fact was able to run the last part of the course on a 10 minute per mile pace and crossed the finish in 5h:43m (results).

This was the second race in “The Beast” series and is 7 weeks out from the Massanutten Mountain 100 miler. At this point in my training I am feeling good about my conditioning and am looking forward to the Bull Run 50 miler in two weeks. The Race Director, Clark Zeeland, and his volunteers did an awesome job with the race. The only drawback for me is that most of the races in this series are about a 3 hour drive from my house in Fairfax, so it’s a little disappointing when the total time in the car exceeds the time spent running on the trails; a small price to pay. The Lord continues to keep me healthy and I continue to feel His joy as I run and for this, as always, I give Him all of the thanks and the glory. Run Strong!
God Bless and Semper Fi,


  1. Michael, It was great to finally meet you Saturday. We have been in numerous races together and I have followed your blog for some time, but I have never had the chance to officially meet you. Even though you were passing me, it was great to meet you out on the trail. You ran a strong race Saturday on a tough course. Promise Land is not any easier and to me it is harder. Maybe it is the heat and the few extra Horton miles, but it is always tough. I do not remember courses very well, so I will have to remember to re-read your post before next year. Rest up my friend and good luck at Bull Run. See you at Promise Land, Rick

  2. Michael, Great report, gives me some insight on the race due to hoping give the Beast Series a go in 2011. Hopefully I will get to meet you at BRR or MMT. Run Strong!


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