Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bull Run Run 50 Miler

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Saturday, 10 April, was the 18th running of the Bull Run Run 50 mile trail race and the third year in a row that I was fortunate enough to be able to participate and complete this event. This race is run along the Bull Run-Occoquan trail in Fairfax County and is a mere 10 minutes from my house, so this is definitely a backyard event for me. I do a lot of my training on these trails and it was great to see more than 300 other runners get to share in its beauty. The run is sponsored by the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club (VHTRC) and they do a great job each year. This has become a major Ultra event on the east coast.

We could not have asked for a better day for running; “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24. The temps started in the low 40s and rose into the mid to upper 60s with low humidity throughout the day. The race started promptly at 0630 and it started out fast. Now with every race there is some strategy, for this event I like to get out a little fast so that that I can get ahead of an inevitable traffic jam that occurs at a very narrow and rocky section of the trail, just prior to the 2 mile mark. I was able to do this but in my haste I think that I kept the pace a little to fast for the first section of the race, fast for me anyway.

The first 16ish miles of the race, or the up river section, went very well and I was very much enjoying the day. As I approached the turn around in Bull Run Regional Park I started to see the lead group coming back down the trail. Leigh Schmitt was leading and he was flying down the trail, he would eventually go on to win and set a new course record in 6h:09m. I was able to complete the up river section and get back into Hemlock in 2h:39m, just a few miles behind the lead pack.

The next section of the course started the 11 mile down river stretch to Fountainhead Park, with a couple of aid stations in between. I was continuing to make good time and everything was feeling good. It was during the section that I realized I was running this race at my 50K pace, more on that later. After passing the marina aid station after 5.5 miles I had a 4 mile stretch into the famous Wolf Run Shoals aid station. These guys are known for their ever changing annual theme, this year it was “The Wizard of Oz” (reference the picture) and as usual the service was great.

The Fountainhead Loop is about 10 miles long and includes the shorter 3 mile Do-Loop . The Do-Loop aid station is at mile 32 and I hit that at 5h:25m, a real good 50K time for me. Everything was feeling good but I was noticing that I was dehydrated and starting to play catch-up. I was able to complete the Fountainhead loop in 1h:50m and start back up river at the 6h:30m mark, which was about 10 minutes behind my time last year.

I was still moving good but could definitely tell that I was slowing down and the last 12 miles seemed like the drug on for 2 hour and 26 minutes. About 44 miles into the race my left knee started to hurt a little, which was new for me. It was a discomfort at the time but nothing that raised to much concern. However, as I type this morning my concern has grown to fear as knee has gotten progressively worse. I have been icing and elevating since Saturday but think I will be consulting the Doc today. I was able to complete the race in 8h:56m, which was not my fastest time on the course but it was under my 9 hour goal time and it was a great day to be running. I was able to run fast enough to get to my son’s baseball game, always a good motivator to keep moving.

I have continually praised God for the ability to be able to run in some of the events that I have completed over the past 3 years and have relied on Him to provide direction, purpose and protection for my running; He has never once failed me. So as I work my way through this knee injury, I ask for your prayers for both a quick recovery and patience. Run Strong!

God Bless and Semper Fi,

Training for 5-11 April: Weekly Mi (78.1), Monthly Mi (109.6), Yearly Mi (697.0)

Mon: 5.2 mi – PRECOR EFX 546/Upper Body lift/ABs
Tues: 10.5 mi – WO&D Trail AM Run Commute / ABs
Wed: 7 mi – Roosevelt Island
Fri: 5 mi – Bull Run Trail Marking
Sat: 50.4 mi-Bull Run Run
Sun: Recovery


  1. Nice report Huffer and like your strong faith in the Lord.

    This was my first Bull Run Run and I enjoyed it; great trail and aid station support was fantastic.

    As my legs were tired and quads hurting, I stayed motivated thinking of others with real pain like our military and my wifes battle with cancer.

    Thanks for the faith filled report and I hope & pray for your knees to recover.

  2. Thanks for the report!....Had hoped to meet you at the race but it was not to be. This being my first 50 mile attempt I was way behind you. Coming from Florida where hills are overpasses on roads or bridges I was surpised to find a course along a body of water so hilly! Not mentioned on the website either. Guess this is just standard fare for Virgina not even worth mentioning. Loved running in the Bluebells but the hills broke me.

    But God is faithful and I finished...just as he carried the Isralites a long way in the wilderness Deut 1:31.

    In His Grip!

    Michael Patterson

  3. Thanks for the report! I am in love with this race! It was my first 50miler and it could not have been a better day. Good job to you!!

  4. Mike - thank you for the investment you make in your log - I appreciate your Christian emphasis and your love for God and for running in his creation. You are having an exceptional running year; I pray your knee quits talking and that you can continue toward your scheduled goals. Semper Fidelis, Bob Hagan

  5. Thanks for all of the encouraging comments. The knee is doing a little better. I have not run on it yet and I think that another week of rest will do it good. Unfortunately, I will not be running in the Promise Land 50K this weekend but hope to be back on schedule soon.

    Semper Fi,

  6. Mike, I hate to hear about the knee, but prayers will help you get well. You will certainly be in my prayers and I will miss seeing you this weekend at Promise Land. Rest up and relax a bit. You will be back soon enough. Rick

  7. Rick,

    Knee is getting better but not good enough for the Promise Land hills. Have a great race on Saturday and keep the prayers coming.


  8. Great after action report, Devil Dog! My knee went out at 44 too - I must have tripped on the Yellow Brick Road! Hopefully I'll recover for my #12 BRR. I'm doing BRR now just to see what Stan and Bunny come up with every year!

    God bless/SF,

  9. Thank you so much for this report... Your power is really very appreciative. well done.Running a mile everyday is very beneficial to people who are physically unfit or want to lose some weight. It greatly improves the stamina of an individual if done regularly

  10. Hi Mike,

    I ran across your blog after researching the Bel Monte 50 which I'm thinking of running. I'm the FCAE huddle leader here in SW Virginia and was excited to see you supporting the group. Our huddle is hoping to have a strong showing at Holiday Lake in 2011 and would love to meet up with you then. You can check us out at I hope you have a great race at Hellgate! Michael Medlin

  11. Great Post. This article helped me a lot about know what do follow really means. Thanks for the info.


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