Recap of Beautiful Training Weekend: SMUT and 3 Ridges/Priest

Fall mountain splendor. Courtesy Jenny Nichols

Last weekend saw several great training opportunities and for many of us it was the last long-run weekend before the upcoming Mountain Masochist 50 miler.  It was also a spectacularly beautiful fall weekend to be in the mountains.

Below, Christian provides a quick summary and some nice pictures from Saturday’s SMUT (Southern Massunutten Ultra Trail) 50K, put on by Keith Knipling, and David does the same for Sunday’s CAT training run at 3 Ridges and the Priest.

Christian’s report from SMUT

The SMUT (Southern Massanutten Ultra Trail Run) is another low-key fat ass event that Keith Knipling from the VHTRC has put on every year for five years now.  Keith offers a 50k and a 100k option (both fall a little short of distance though). We CAT’s (Joey and me) opted for the 50k option and had a blast. As an “entry fee” everybody got assigned aid to bring to stock up the aid stations. Needless to say, there was a wide variety of aid and plenty for everybody.

Since there are no course markers we hung with Gary Knipling and Marlin Yoder (both team VHTRC)  almost the whole way to not get lost. We dropped Gary when he realized we were “just” in for the 50k. In addition we were provided turn sheets and Joey even brought a PATC map. It was just over 50F at 6:30am in the morning as we started up a gravel road for about 1.5 miles, and entered the singletrack trail by sunrise. Fall foliage and the sun coming up behind the mountain range offered gorgeous views as we ran on the first ridge. With 6000ft of elevation gain over 28.8 miles it was a good workout and I cursed the Massanutten rocks a couple of times. The course offered lots of rocks, some jeep roads,  single track, beautiful views and great company. The run was very nice and Joey and I finished in 6hrs 30mins.

A really nice low-key, no-pressure fat ass event with lots of VHTRC love, I would definitely recommend it! Here some impressions from the beautiful fall day.

David’s report from 3 Ridges/Priest

Fall colors on AT.  Courtesy Jenny Nichols.

We had a great and fun group turnout for Sunday’s run, with folks from all over Virginia.  When Nick Hamblet and I pulled into the Rte. 56 parking lot around 7:15 am, we met up with CAT-regular Bob Clouston, Matt Bugin and two other friends from Richmond, IMTRers Jenny Nichols and Guy from Southwest Virginia, and VHTRCer Quatro Hubbard from Richmond.  And then, CAT-regular Neal Church showed up from Richmond to round things out.

It was a picture perfect day with temps in the 50s as we got started.  Guy and Skinny B Nick started out with Matt Bugin and friends in a fast group, followed by Bob, Jenny, and Neal.  Quatro and I decided to “sweep” in the last grouping.  We first headed up the AT towards The 3 Ridges.  The colors were great; we started down in green leafy late summer, ascended through oranges and reds, and came up to yellow-colored trees and paths of fallen leaves on the top of the ridges.  The views were outstanding, as Bob’s and Jenny’s pictures, included here, can attest to. The Mau-Har trail was great — much nicer in autumn than in the humidity of the summer IMO– and Campbell’s Creek flowed strong and clear from recent rains.

Jenny and Neal on the Third Ridge. Courtesy Bob Clouston.

Quatro on Third Ridge with Priest in background.
Nick, Bob, and Neal on Priest outcropping.  Courtesy Jenny Nichols

Quatro and I finished the first leg in just over four hours and found Jenny, Bob, and Neal still hanging out in the parking lot. So we grabbed some quick food and drink and headed up the Priest trail all together.  We were met by another beautiful climb and great scenery at outcroppings as we ascended higher.  It was at the first outcropping about 2/3 of the way up that Bob, Jenny, and Neal met the fast group on their way down.  I caught up as they all snapped off more pictures (Q returned to the parking lot about a mile up the trail as the 24 miles he ran with Sophie Speidel plus several hours of UVA tailgating on Saturday began to catch up with him).   On top of the Priest, we visited the other outcropping with its incredible vistas, before turning for our descent.  As this was my first time up the Priest, I was sort of dreading the descent, figuring my quads were shot.

Tailgate!  From L:  Guy, Jenny, Quatro, and Bob.

 But we got down in what seemed like no time at all with my quads still intact. The big surprise upon our return was the spread that Q had set up at his car.  It was the UVA tailgate all over again, complete with fried chicken, lots of chips, a variety of beers, and bourbon and cokes.  Jenny added some 5-hour energy shots and Lusty Monk mustard and we were in business!

Overall, the day included 22 miles of distance and 7350 feet of climbing.

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