Sophie’s Summer Death March (SSDM)

This past Saturday Sophie Speidel hosted a group run at White Oak Canyon in the Shenandoah National Park.  The course was a slightly changed version of the popular VHTRC event  Vicki’s Death March that takes places in the winter. Of course, if VHTRCs’ ambassador calls, many cool trail peeps come together because they know that this will be a guarantee for a fun and good organized run.

Shortly after Drew, Nick and I arrived at the lower parking lot of the White Oak Canyon trail many others followed so that we soon filled up the parking lot and had about 45 (!) people gathered. People came from a multitude of places: Lynchburg, Harrisonburg, D.C., Richmond, Charlottesville, Morgantown WV….

Quickly we came together for the obligatory “before” picture:

45+ Runners of at least three clubs (VHTRC, CAT, WVMTR)

Sophie gave out maps and turn sheets that looked very straightforward and manageable. We took a quick look at the info and off we were….

Lots of climbing shortly after we started…

oh yeah, did I mention climbing?

 Little pace groups formed pretty quickly, the fastest being lead by Sabrina Moran and Neal Gorman. The weather was moderately warm in the beginning and trails were mostly shaded. Later in the day it got hotter and more humid, carrying a 70 oz plus a 21oz hand bottle was a good choice. The trail offered stunning views and varying terrain..

Who would want to run roads if you can have this?

…off course towards Fishers Gap

Marc Griffin, Jack Broaddus and Jared “from Lynchburg” and I were cruisin’ down the mountain enjoying the technical trail, stopped briefly to verify our direction and kept going…. until we ended up on a Fishers Gap parking lot – not where we should have been (5mi north on Hawksbill Gap). Oh well. After looking for trail markers, consulting a hiker and the map we took the AT north towards Hawksbill. About 3/4 of the way at another intersection we ran into Matt Bugin and Holly Baker who also got lost.
We had hoped to make it to Skyland Lodge in time to meet at least some slower runners of our group but didn’t. Upon asking an older lady at a cash register if they had seen runners she just replied “Runners?…. oh yeah, I’ve seen runners.. lots of them! But that was about 30mins ago.” Anyways, after re-fueling we decided to take a short cut on White Oak canyon fire road to be back at base in time for the party. …and we made it! We actually ended up with the same mileage as the planned route:
Distance: 25.53 mi | Elevation Gain: 5,572 ft | Moving time: 5:08hrs

Tailgate with lots of good foods and tales from the trail

It was a fantastic day with many old and new friends and good times on and off trail. Thanks again Sophie for hosting this great event, I am sure many of us will make it a regular event to attend to.

Q’s pictures of the VHTRC trifecta:

Sabrina Moran’s blogpost: 

Phil Turk’s blogpost:

5 thoughts on “Sophie’s Summer Death March (SSDM)

  1. Sophie Speidel

    Ah, now I see where you guys went off course. Too bad you missed the view from Hawksbill and Stony Man! Come to VDM in November and pay attention to the turn sheet! 🙂 thanks for coming, it was a great day!!

  2. Christian

    …I thought it would be impossible to get lost with the three other guys ahead of me. 🙂 I heard that we missed the biggest climb and the views. No doubts I’ll be back.

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