Share |

Saturday, May 13, 2000 -- Front Royal, VA
VHTRC Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Miler
Story and photos by C.A. Jackson Jr., FreeLance International

[Details] [Coverage] [Pic Set 1]
Results and additional pictures can be found at the MMT 100 Web Site.

Ricklef and Torrence
Chad Ricklef and Ian Torrence lead at the halfway point
Ian Torrence went through Hell and back to win the sixth-annual Massanutten Mountain Trails 100-Mile Run this weekend in Virginia's famous Fort Valley region. The 27-year-old native Marylander, now of Seattle, battled heat and humidity, high winds, torrential rain and even hail - and that was just during the first 12 hours of the battle. Later in the run, now under the cover of darkness, Torrence had to fight his way through a blackened 300-acre splotch of forest fire, darting at least five separate burn piles still smoldering.

His time of 20:14 was well off his 19:16 mark in 1999 when he also won but given the difference in conditions, this year's win was all the more meaningful.

Over 125 runners began the race in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday, May 13, at the Skyline Ranch Resort near Front Royal. But over half didn't have the fortitude of Torrence and dropped out.

"I had stomach problems early in the race but they're gone now," the red-head said at the Washington-Jefferson National Forest Ranger Station near New Market, during a brief respite at the half-way mark of the race. "Now the heat and humidity is really high and it's hard to breath."

Susan Donnelly
Susan Donnelly gets refueled at the Gap Creek Aid Station
Other finishers included Sue Johnston, who hails from Waterford, Vt., picking up her third win in the women's race in four years. The top Virginia Happy Trails Running Club (organizing host) member to finish was Reston's Russ Evans and the top international athletes finishing were a pair now training in California - Australia's Jonathan Worswick and Germany's Patrik Gunnarson, who placed third and fourth overall respectively. Boulder Colorado's Chad Ricklefs took second overall.

It's understandable then that nearly half of the original pack dropped out. Some had sprains, blisters, broken bones and other sundry ailments and some just hadn't prepared themselves adequately for the conditions. But David Roemer, a 40-year-old New York City physician, may have taken the prize for the most unusual - and potentially life-threatening injury: a Timber Rattlesnake bite.

Doctor Roemer, however, was prepared for a run in the country, though urban legend may have attempted to creep into the scenery. On the trail Saturday night at the Woodstock Tower aid station it was reported Roemer had been bitten, given himself an anti-venom shot and found his way down the mountain to civilization and assistance.

Dermody & Sayers
Charlie Dermody and Kevin Sayers... the stories they'll tell
It turned out however that not all the facts were true.

Yes, Roemer was bitten but all he had in his fanny pack was an Epi-Stick for bee stings. He treated himself with that and five hours later made it to help. According to race director Ed DeMoney, it's believed Roemer and his wife headed back to NYC for treatment.

Roemer received a granite plaque, not for the self-heroics but for at least completing half of the run. In fact, all the participants who made it to the National Forest Visitor Center on U.S. Route 211 east of New Market, received such an honor.

DeMoney and the club members designed the course almost entirely on trails which lead through the state's Massanuttan Mountain range. Runners went up and down in elevations from around 600 feet at the start to a peak of over 2,700 feet twice on the course.

They were allowed 36 hours to complete the course to earn a distinctive "finely detailed, machined pewter belt buckle". The top division winners as well as the second through sixth-place finishers received an upgraded Sterling silver buckle.

The author is a free lance writer living in Maurertown, Virginia. He may be reached via e-mail at